Nov 2, 2016

"I will never again live near water": Weeks after hurricane, Chesapeake residents still seeking help

Pughsville Rd, Chesapeake, VA
USA
by
Katherine Hafner
,
Virginian-Pilot
Cynthia Hall, left, and neighbor Hannah Riley have been displaced from their Chesapeake homes. Photo: Vicki Cronis-Nohe, The Virginian Pilot
Cynthia Hall, left, and neighbor Hannah Riley have been displaced from their Chesapeake homes. Photo: Vicki Cronis-Nohe, The Virginian Pilot

Hannah Riley still feels anxious when she turns onto her former street.

“I’m having physical reactions” of trauma, she said.

Just a few weeks ago, as Hurricane Matthew swept through Hampton Roads, Riley and her husband were driving home from a family birthday party in Portsmouth.

When they entered their Pughsville neighborhood, neighbors rushed out to warn them of heavy flooding.

Riley turned onto her street and found several feet of water engulfing her home.

“I literally fell to the ground,” she said. “My husband swam through the garage” but wasn’t able to save their undeveloped wedding photos from August.

“I will never again live near water,” Riley said last week. “I don’t even know what I’ll do when it rains.”

...

Deputy City Manager Bob Geis said there are limits to what the city can do. Workers with the city and the Federal Emergency Management Agency went to Pughsville a few days after the storm to assess damage, he said. They did not need to enter the homes because they could see water marks feet above the ground, he added.

The city of Chesapeake declared a state of emergency on the Saturday during Hurricane Matthew. The state sent a report to President Barack Obama requesting a disaster declaration to qualify certain cities, including Chesapeake and Virginia Beach, for federal aid, which he signed Wednesday afternoon. That means residents – including those in Pughsville – soon will be able to apply for FEMA aid.