Victims face a long wait

Published 12:20 am Friday, September 2, 2011

Washington County is facing tough challenges in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene.

Interim County Manager Cheryl Young said Wednesday afternoon that some residents have a long wait ahead before life returns to normal.

“The initial damage assessment on structural damage was about $6 million. I cannot say that is the complete number. We still have a lot of border issues down on the eastern end of our county. This includes the communities of Creswell and Cherry.”

Young said that the county was still experiencing power outages. The vast majority of the systems throughout the county were powerless for a significant period of time. She mentioned that she was thankful that the county was down to about 5,000 customers or households that were still lacking power. She estimated that this number would drop by Saturday.

Washington County has approximately 12,500 people. It is comprised of three municipalities that are chartered: Plymouth has an estimated 4,300 residents; the town of Roper has an estimated 600 to 700 residents; and the town of Creswell has about 300 residents.

Tideland Electric and Dominion Power provide power services to Washington County.

Young spoke of reports that three larger businesses in Washington County had sustained damage. Big M in Creswell had the back of its building taken off. Lake Phelps Granary sustained major damage. Creswell Furniture Company lost its roof and entire warehouse contents.

The initial estimates of crop damage in Washington County are in excess of $28 million.  Corn has an estimated 41 percent loss. The cotton crop has an estimate of 55 percent loss. Tobacco withstood a 90 percent loss with an expectation of topping out at 100 percent.  The soybean crop had 33 percent tallied at a loss.

Young said that most of the crops are not insured.

Flooding has also been an issue.

“Portions of the Creswell and Cherry area are still facing water. I don’t mean like two inches of water. I think its somewhere like 24 inches of water. It is not receding very quickly. It does not have anywhere to go and everything has been saturated. I rode out there today with FEMA representatives. Portions of the roads are not passable, we used two four-wheel-drive SUVs to get through some of them,” said Young.

All of these problems mean a lot of work for everybody.

“With everything we have had, taking weeks to recover could be optimistic,” said Young.