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Soaking rains cause WVa rock slide, prompt river warning

Workers assesses a rock slide Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020, along old U.S. Route 52 in Williamson, W.Va. (Mackenzie Koch/WOWK-TV via AP).

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Soaking rains caused part of a hillside to collapse in southern West Virginia and prompted a flood warning along the Ohio River.

Highways officials said high water forced road closings in multiple counties Thursday.

Near Williamson, a rock slide Wednesday night covered old U.S. Route 52, knocked over power poles and caused a minor traffic accident. No serious injuries were reported. Crews were trying to remove multiple boulders on Thursday.

Rising water levels have hampered search efforts for a kayaker who went missing in Barbour County.

Jamie L. Gray, 41, was a part of a group of about 10 kayakers near Audra State Park, said Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety spokesman Lawrence Messina.

Weather-related school closings or delays occurred in at least 15 of West Virginia’s 55 counties Thursday.

The National Weather Service issued a warning for minor flooding along the Ohio River at Point Pleasant and Huntington. The downtown areas of both cities are protected by floodwalls.

The weather service said some areas received about 1.5 inches (3.8 centimeters) of rain over already saturated ground.

In Huntington, the storms prompted U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams to postpone a visit to Marshall University, which said the event is expected to be rescheduled.