I’ve been–like everyone else in the state I suppose–thinking about the flooding that devastated so many lives on Friday.
As you know, Michael and I have been trying to visit all the state parks and forests, and in doing so we’ve driven through so many of these areas in the past two years.
Last week we were in Richwood. We drove past houses that seemed hadn’t seen better days for a couple decades. Shop front after closed shop front. Roads that were in need to repair–like all the roads in the state.
These small towns were already struggling to survive, what will this horrible destruction do to them now?
While the Cherry River has receded and the streams of water coming off the hillsides have resided Friday, many in Richwood were concerned that it was only the beginning of their problems.
Both of the towns remaining stores where people could shop for food had been destroyed. The Rite Aid and Dollar General stores, next to the Richwood Fire Hall, had been submerged in more than three feet of water.
(from the Charleston Gazette Mail)
That’s correct. The only local place for people to get groceries was a dollar general and a Rite Aid. It’s not uncommon in this state for people to have to drive 30 to 60 minutes to get to an actual grocery store. (See: Food Deserts)
Look closely at the pictures of the cars and homes destroyed. So many of the people whose homes and vehicles were destroyed were already living on the edge, how many will be pushed right over the edge after this? How much do you think insurance gives you for a 10 or 15 year old vehicle–the only way you had to get a job? Enough for a new car? Certainly not. If your house was already in need to repair, how much do you think the insurance is going to give you, for a home in an area with already low property values?
With so many businesses destroyed, what will these people do for employment?
So many roads that were already in bad shape were destroyed. And I do mean destroyed.
In so many of these towns, if a road is destroyed, you can’t just go a couple blocks around to get to your location. You have to go miles and miles down roads–some gravel–to get to where you are going. And if you’ve never driven down a lot of gravel roads, five miles can take you half an hour or longer–probably longer with likely flood damage.
We’ve got all this damage in already struggling areas, in a state where we were barely able to pass a budget because there simply is no money.
So, just how is all this going to be fixed? How can you rebuild businesses when roads are destroyed? How can you rebuild homes when jobs are few and far between? How can you even move when your insurance settlement is unlikely to be enough to get you a good start somewhere else?
I love my state, but I worry how much more we can take.
Doesn’t mean we won’t keep on trying, but all of this breaks my heart as I worry about all those who lost their homes and jobs and vehicles–and family members.
We’ll go on, because we’re a proud and stubborn people and we love our state more than you can imagine, but it’d be nice if someone would cut us a break.