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One Dead; Rescuers Search for 3-Year-Old Girl Swept Away by Floods

June 28, 1995

CRIGLERSVILLE, Va. (AP) _ Rescue teams used helicopters and dogs to search for a 3-year-old girl who was swept away by flooding that also carried a 43-year-old man to his death.

The search for Alexis Orantes resumed at daybreak today in northwestern Virginia.

Heavy rainfall continued today across the central Appalachians and caused flooding today in southern West Virginia that forced people from homes and a hospital.

Alexis’ grandparents, Roy and Virginia Smith of Manassas, watched in horror Tuesday and screamed for help from a tree where they had sought higher ground. The family had abandoned their motorhome after trying to drive out of a campground near Gooney Creek.

Pamela Marcon-Holt was fleeing her own flooded home in Warren County when she heard the couple’s screams and saw Alexis. She said she began wading toward her and came within about 20 feet, before Alexis was carried away.

``I saw her and I was near her and the next minute she was gone,″ she told The Washington Post.

Authorities found the body of Kirk Davis three miles from his home in Washington, Va., a small town 35 miles west of Manassas. Davis was last seen walking away from the house after his car was swept into the Rush River.

More than 3 inches of rain an hour fell in parts of the state on Tuesday, leading Gov. George Allen to declare a state of emergency for all but the eastern and southwestern tips. The declaration allows the state to use the National Guard in rescue efforts.

In the hilly central Appalachians, 2.6 inches of rain fell overnight at Bluefield, W.Va., the National Weather Service said. Water was up to 4 feet deep this morning in the city.

In adjacent Princeton, W.Va., Princeton Community Hospital was forced to close because of up to 1 foot of water on its first floor. And up to 30 flood victims sought refuge at the Mercer County Courthouse in Princeton, said sheriff’s dispatcher Charles Trukenmiller.

Parts of Madison County in central Virginia were cut off by high water that tore up bridges and washed out roads.

A tree 30-feet-tall lay across what was left of Virginia 609, a state highway where muddy water tore a gash in a small concrete bridge at Criglersville, 30 miles north of Charlottesville. ``The water lifted up the asphalt like it was layer cake,″ said Mike Viar of the Virginia Department of Transportation.

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