Senator Warner visits Buchanan County flood sites as disaster relief continues

Published: Aug. 22, 2022 at 5:53 PM EDT
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BUCHANAN COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), Virginia Senator T. Travis Hackworth (R-38) and the U.S. Army Engineering Corps visited the Buchanan County flood sites and held a community roundtable discussion with residents on Monday afternoon.

The community meeting with Whitewood, Pilgrim’s Knob and Jewel Ridge residents comes one month after devastating floods destroyed nearly 100 homes. Volunteer groups like Christ in Action have been helping Buchanan County residents transition from short-term disaster relief to long-term recovery.

One volunteer explained a pile of rubble on the side of the road used to be someone’s home.

“Yeah, if you look at it, that was somebody’s home and we just finished tearing it down a few minutes ago,” Dale Everly said. “It’s really sad.”

Many of the homes hit by last month’s floods now have to be completely torn down. Christ in Action’s director of operations explained how residents now have to face the tough decision of rebuilding from the ground up or moving away.

“We were at a brick house yesterday where the family had built that house,” Chris Zitzmann said. “The lady that was there, 40 years ago she helped lay the first brick with her dad and now that house is destroyed.”

Senator Warner, Senator Hackworth and other state officials heard the concerns from residents about FEMA relief eligibility at Twin Valley High School.

“My sister is a widow and her home is fixing to fall into the creek. Everybody we went to, the county, every agency that came in here, said ‘Sorry Miss Davis. You don’t qualify.’ How do you not qualify?” one resident asked Senator Warner.

Other residents discussed possible damage causes from the surrounding gas and lumber industries.

“I want to know, what weight from your office can you put behind a reasonable study starting now to determine if those issues were the cause,” another resident told Warner.

Buchanan County’s Chief Deputy to the sheriff’s office explained the senator’s visit is important while Buchanan County waits for FEMA’s damage assessment.

“Its important that he sees the damage, understands the needs of the citizens and the county over there and that he can see that first-hand and relay that information on to the White House and let them know that we need this,” Eric Breeding said. “We need that help.”

United Way Southwest Virginia is still accepting monetary donations for disaster relief and recovery.