Last Thursday, I put on rain gear and headed out while rain was drenching the region and waterways were coming out of their banks. I decided to head for Lorton Lick Road and started wondering if that was such a great idea.
Water was rushing across the road and sometimes I couldn’t tell how deep it was getting. I soon came to the point when I decided things were getting too dicey and turned back. I’ve heard how only a few inches of rushing water can wash a car downstream, so I wasn’t prepared to risk a crossing.
I headed back up the road and spotted a couple of residents I could talk to. The fact they were standing under a front porch was an advantage since I have trouble taking notes in the rain. What I learned quickly was that the high water wasn’t anything new to them.
Like a lot of other communities in this region, Lorton Lick’s residents are between two mountains. Water flows down the slopes and right on top of them, so the homeowners deal with high water every time there’s a heavy rain in the forecast. Despite the mess, they were keeping cool and soldiering on.
I’ve been reminded repeatedly while working in this profession that the people of Four Seasons Country are resilient and ready to help each other in times of need.
This was driven home yet again Tuesday when I went with photographer Eric Dinovo to Richlands, Va., to see how the flood recovery was progressing. I decided stopping at the Richlands Police Department would help us learn which areas we should visit, plus I could talk to folks who were coming in for supplies.
The police department’s garage looked like the floor of a discount store. Whole pallets of bottled water were available along with rows of canned food, jugs of bleach, brushes, snow shovels, hygiene products, and even big bags of dog food were ready for anybody who needed them.
All of it had been donated by local businesses, churches and individuals, and more goods were arriving. Some of the donations had been trucked in from as far away as Danville, Va.
We drove to the Doran area and soon found some people who wanted to talk about their experiences. One woman was getting ready for work – life was going on – while a couple of her relatives were mopping up the ground floor.
I could smell the dank odor of river water that had soaked into the ruined carpets and the floorboards. The family was going to sleep on the second floor while they cleaned up and repaired the ground floor a little bit at a time.
Down the street, one couple who twice lost everything they had to floods back in the 1970s, came close to seeing major damage yet again. They had raised their house to safeguard themselves from more floods, but it wouldn’t have worked if the water had risen another 12 inches.
Despite the close call, they were thankful and remarked on how many of their neighbors stopped to ask if they needed any help.
Rain was in the forecast Wednesday, and I’m hoping that a flash flood watch for McDowell County doesn’t turn out to be anything significant. After you’ve been through a flood, a weather report predicting rain is stressful.
I’ve talked to flash flood victims, and I know how nervous they can get when the sky gets dark and rain starts falling. I haven’t been hit by a flood, but the possibility of more rain gets on my nerves after a flood has hit the region.
Flood recovery will proceed and flood victims will get back on their feet. Some people will seek new homes and others will clean up and pray that another big flood won’t strike anytime soon.
Some day we will see more flooding thanks to the nature of this region, but I’m confident that everyone will reach out to help one another when the water starts to rise again. And we will again see the resilience that keeps everyone going in the face of adversity.
I’m confident that everyone will keep going despite their losses and defy the wrath of Mother Nature.
Greg Jordan is the Daily Telegraph’s senor reporter. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org