Nearly 10 inches of rain poured down Thursday night, sending rivers of floodwater sweeping across roads and through homes.
Late Saturday, President Obama signed a disaster declaration making federal funding available for flood victims in three counties.
Search and rescue teams -- some on foot, some by boat -- went door to door in the town of Rainelle looking for survivors.
"It looks like a war zone when you go inside these houses," State Trooper C.S. Hartman told CBS News. He worried that among the destruction will be more bodies.
"That's the last thing I want to do, but we're prepared for it," Hartman said.
The once-a-century flood left the small town of Clendenin mostly underwater. Forty-four of West Virginia's 55 counties were inundated.
The National Guard and FEMA have been called in to help. Thousands are without power. At least 100 homes suffered significant damage or were destroyed.
"Everybody lost everything," said Becky McClung. She struggled to take in the devastation as she waded back to her home of nearly 20 years only to throw out most of what's left.
"We never thought it would be this bad," McClung said.
Steve LaMontagne was last there Thursday, using a boat to rescue his elderly aunt. Her dog -- a very scared little guy -- was left behind.
It took a little teamwork to get the dog out from under a bed, into his cage and out of the wrecked house. LaMontagne said having the dog safe would mean "everything" to his aunt.
"The dog was the main thing she was worried about when she left," he said.
While there was a lot of water in parts of Rainelle, like elsewhere in West Virginia, levels were quickly going down Saturday afternoon.
The recovery effort, however, would take considerably longer.