“Picking up the pieces we have left.” Buchanan County residents deal with aftermath of destructive floods

Published: Jul. 14, 2022 at 6:29 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - More than 100 homes were affected by flash floods Tuesday night in Buchanan County, and officials are still assessing the damage. Now residents are left picking up the pieces.

James Mullins and other neighborhood residents are trying to rebuild and save what was lost, but explained most everything can’t be saved.

“It’s a total loss in there,” James Mullins said. “12 inches in the house, and the mud is just unbelievable.”

Mullins has lived in the Whitewood neighborhood almost 50 years.

“I thought we had it bad with the flood of 1977, but it was nothing like this,” Mullins said. “I’ve never seen something like this in my lifetime, and I probably won’t ever see it again.”

Neighbors are heartbroken as they carried a lifetime of memories out of Mullins’ house and onto the lawn. Those items are now covered in mud and floodwater.

“We’ve lived here almost 50 years, and nothing like this has ever happened,” Mullins said.

Families struggled to find each other during the flooding. With no power, internet or cell service to get in touch with his sister, who lives three doors down, Mullins said it was one of the scariest nights of his life.

“I rapped on her door and I rapped on her door, the water was lapping up in my truck floor at the time, and I couldn’t find her,” Mullins said. “It scared the living daylights out of me but luckily she had left just a little bit earlier and didn’t turn her car off I guess.”

Now community and family members are coming together to try and repair the damage.

“We’re just trying to pick up what pieces we got left to try and help out where we can,” brother-in-law Rick Horn said. “It’s devastating, really.”

Even though most of his stuff is destroyed, Mullins is focusing on moving forward.

“Sometimes you just have to take the hand that’s dealt you and go on. There’s nothing you can do,” Mullins said. “We’ll survive. We’ll survive.”

United Way is accepting monetary donations for residents who were affected by the flood.

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