BUCHANAN COUNTY, Va. (WJHL) – Buchanan County is no stranger to natural disasters. Parts of the county were rocked by floods that destroyed dozens of homes earlier in July, prompting several agencies and hundreds of volunteers to respond.

Less than a year earlier in August 2021, the county – and specifically the Hurley area – fell victim to flooding that killed one person and displaced several more.

But predating both instances was the flooding of 1977, which devastated large swathes of the Southwest Virginia region and Buchanan County especially. Some of the victims of 2022’s floods drew unwelcome comparisons to the disaster decades before.

“This house went through the ’77 flood, so it had a lot of sand and stuff in it then,” said Jeffrey Horne, who spoke with News Channel 11 as he cleaned his aunt’s house. “So it survived one, but this is worse.”

The Virginia Emergency Management Agency updated its original damage assessments Wednesday, now estimating that 32 homes were destroyed, 59 were damaged and another 36 were affected.

“It got more water in it, a lot of sand in the floors,” Horne said. “We pulled the carpets out. The fire company [came] down, and we washed down with a fire hose – the mattresses. It was pretty much the same kind of damage, but there’s more mud in the house this time.”

Burns Mullins lives on Dismal River Road and told News Channel 11 that the latest floods far exceeded the damage done by the 1977 disaster.

“At least ten times worse in my opinion,” Mullins said. “People got washed off. It’s come up and messed us up, and we’ve never had no water in here before in 50 years.”

“It had a lot more power to it,” Horne said, comparing the latest floods to 1977. He said a nearby camper was swept up in the floodwaters and collided with his aunt’s house, taking off a whole brick side of the structure. “It was deep, and now you’ve got so much mildew and mold in there. I don’t feel it will be liveable for anybody.”

Crews have been hard at work attempting to clear debris that was swept into creeks and rivers nearby. Officials say everything from furniture and propane tanks to vehicles and actual pieces of houses have been removed from various locations.

“There’s no telling what’s been in this water,” said quality paving supervisor Mac Osborne. “You’ve got that tank yonder. There’s no telling what was in that tank. It contaminates the water.”

Crews say clearing debris from below bridges is the first priority so water can flow rather than build up and cause further risk.

The extent of the damage varies for each victim. Some face a few days of clean-up, while others are looking at a timeline of years.

“We had stuff lost, but it’s no problem,” said Mullins. “We’re still alive.”

“It’s a sad feeling,” Horne said. “It really is. There is no comparison; this was totally worse.”

To donate to the Buchanan County 2022 Disaster Fund, text GIVE to 276-200-2440 or click here.