'It looks like a war zone': Virginia flood victims survey damaged homes
Residents start the long process of cleaning up and rebuilding after floodwater consumed their Buchanan County communities
BUCHANAN COUNTY, Va. – Flood victims searched through ruins of their homes in western Virginia hoping to salvage anything not damaged in Tuesday's flooding.
Jewelry boxes, photo albums, and documents were just some of the items Buchanan County residents told FOX Weather’s Will Nunley they hope to find. Others hold no hope of recovering valuables or mementos because there homes were completely washed away.
Many residents are coming to grips with not only lost belongings but financial ruin. Flood insurance is not part of a standard homeowner’s policy.
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"I didn’t realize it until this conversation with my family that we don’t have any flood insurance either. I just assumed we did," Alison Rife, a third generation local resident, said. "So just thinking about rebuilding, thinking about the loss of all these people I care deeply about."
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Eastern areas of the county saw up to 8 inches of rain fall on grounds that are used for coal mining in the Appalachians. Floodwaters rushed down the steep terrain and swelled creeks which washed homes off their foundations.
"This happened within a 30-minute window Tuesday night. Water came rushing into this town and it was waist high. Neighbors had to seek higher ground," Nunley reported, recounting a survivor’s experience. "Neighbors were pulling one another to safety trying to get out of the floodwaters."
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In Pilgrim’s knob what used to be Main Street now looks like a dirt road. Cars have to drive around a home that was washed onto the street. Two nearby residences were washed further down the river.
More than 100 homes were damaged, during the heavy rainstorm. Shell-shocked residents said they just finished cleaning up after the remnants of Hurricane Ida flooded the area in August.
"It's like you dropped a bomb on it. It looks like a war zone out here," said Robert Minton, another third generation resident. "I would imagine this is what this looks like. It’s an environmental catastrophe."
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Mail carrier Darlene Osborne drove around Oakwood, Virginia not recognizing the route she traveled for the past 18 years. She told FOX Weather’s Brandy Campbell that many of the homes were gone. She tried to console victims she’s grown close to over the years.
"Most of them just cry. Their whole life’s destroyed. Now they just don't know what to do. And a lot of them don't have flood insurance. So they've lost everything," said Osbourne. "It is devastation."
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Residents not in shelters have no electricity, water or cell phone service while they clean up. Many roads washed away further delaying incoming work crews to fix the infrastructure and remove dirt off the roads that are still intact.
"Its been a long couple of days," said Buchanan County Deputy Sheriff Eric Breeding. "We’ve got a long road ahead of us."
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