HURLEY, Va. (WJHL) – Months after devastating flooding destroyed homes and livelihoods in a small Southwest Virginia town, residents are still picking up the pieces.
2021 had its fair share of disasters, but one of the most heartbreaking events happened in the community of Hurley. It’s been months since the fatal storm in late August, and debris and damage are still very present.
“I am there every day, and I do see these people, and it’s hard to understand just how impacted they really are,” said Buchanan County EMA Coordinator, Bart Chambers.
Chambers told News Channel 11 rebuilding is a process. Originally, state officials estimated a year timeline to rebuild and recover, but he says it looks like it will take much longer. Securing funding to rebuild is a battle being fought both locally and in Washington D.C.
“This community was devastated by this cloud burst and it’s not something that’s commonplace or something they can afford to fix on their own,” said U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith, who represents Virginia’s 9th District.
While elected officials do what they can to help the community of Hurley, residents continue to support one another. This winter break, the cafeteria at Hurley High was full of helping hands. One volunteer, Tamsey Coleman, who happens to be both a school employee and a flood victim herself, said she’s disappointed in the recovery process.
“Roads are still horrible, the creek is where the road should be, and the road is wherever you’ve got to watch because there are some areas that are literally 4 feet deep on each side. I’m somewhat disappointed because I figured it’d be somewhat fixed and to have a teenager drive on that road? I would not,” said Coleman.
Coleman lives on Guesses Fork Road, one of the hardest-hit communities following the flooding. She said her home is barely livable, but they have nowhere else to go. Coleman said her 12-foot basement filled entirely with water in the flood, and she constantly worries about the threat of mold and worries whenever it rains.
While she continues to live in her heavily damaged home, she finds peace in work and helping others. On Tuesday, she and other volunteers helped provide hot meals to the community, made possible by the Virginia Oil and Gas Association.
“Buchanan County, being our biggest gas-producing county in the state, that means a lot of our folks are from here, they’re from this area,” said VOGA Public Relations Director, Beth Stockner.
Tuesday marked the last day for their ‘hot meals’ initiative which provided 200 free meals and Food City gift cards to Hurley residents and also provided a total of 1,350 meals to six different communities across the Commonwealth.
This was the second year for the project.
Meanwhile, FEMA had recently denied individual assistance to those impacted by the flooding. Griffith told News Channel 11 that’s a decision he and his colleagues are hoping gets reversed by the Biden Administration.
For now, work continues in the Guesses Fork community and residents wait for some much-needed assistance.