On July 12th, 2022, Buchanan, Virginia was hit with heavy rains which led to severe flooding. While everyone made it through the floods safely, several hundred homes were badly damaged.
Due to the severity of the damage, assistance was needed to help with recovery. The week of August 8th-12th Inspectors and Building Officials from Goochland, Staunton, Town of Pulaski, Abingdon, Town of Tazwell, and Smyth Counties, along with Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and Virginia State Fire Marshall’s Office staff, assembled in Buchanan to begin assessing the damaged structures. The officials formed teams to review and confirm damage reports as part of the damage assessment process.
Casey Littlefield, Goochland County Deputy Building Official recounts his time in Buchanan, “Personally, I have dealt with Earthquake and Tornado damage but very limited damage assessment with flooding and what I found was heartbreaking.” During their second day of inspections, the group had deemed close to thirty homes a complete loss. Accessing the sites themselves proved difficult. “Multiple sections of road were washed away or undermined from excessive water to the point where travel could not be done.” said Littlefield. Working in a disaster area meant little to no cell service or internet. Crews unfamiliar with the area were unable to utilize GPS and left to rely solely on paper maps provide by Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT).
During the week he spent in Buchanan, Littlefield, along with others assessed over 300 homes. “We met the most resourceful and resilient people, [they] cared more about how their neighbor was doing than themselves.” said Littlefield. Many of the residents did not have flood insurance, nor do they have the means to rebuild on their own. Regarding his experience he said, “I am humbled to have been able to go and help where I could.”
United Way of Southwest Virginia is currently helping to coordinate volunteers and donations to support relief efforts. To learn more, please visit https://www.unitedwayswva.org/take-action/buchanan-county-2022-disaster-relief.