YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Residents Try to Mop Up Mess in Virginia After Deadly Floods

September 02, 2004|From Associated Press

RICHMOND, Va. — Police and fire officials escorted Richmond residents and business owners into their flood-ravaged homes and shops Wednesday, but only to allow them to retrieve pets and essentials such as prescription drugs.

Flooding touched off by the remnants of Tropical Storm Gaston on Monday left at least seven people dead in Virginia and devastated a historic Richmond district that was the heart of the Confederate capital during the Civil War.

Cleanup and restoration in the Shockoe Bottom neighborhood of restaurants, shops and loft apartments would have to wait a day or so until the buildings are deemed safe, City Manager Calvin Jamison said. He said 19 of 230 buildings inspected by midday were condemned.

The preliminary damage estimate was $15 million and expected to rise.

Shops and restaurants were a watery, mud-caked mess Wednesday, and cars that had crashed into each other as they washed down streets were mired in mud or overturned.

Tonya Entzminger, 31, retrieved an armful of clothes, a mesh bag containing shoes, her cellphone and a muddy purse from her first-floor apartment.

"It looks like Armageddon," she said. "I'm lucky to be alive."

Entzminger said she left in haste when a fire alarm sounded during the storm Monday. On her return, she found her refrigerator had floated across the apartment and blocked the front door, and it took three men to force the door open.

She said she also lost her car, which was found in the middle of a stack of vehicles, one underneath it and another on top of it.

Entzminger didn't know how she would recover. "I didn't get renter's insurance. I guess I'll get it now," she said.

The sixth and seventh confirmed victims were found Wednesday, more than a day after the heavy rains ended and floodwaters receded.

Authorities in Dinwiddie County, south of Richmond, found the body of a person who they said was swept away in rushing water.

Earlier in the day, a woman's body was found in a wooded area east of the city, after she apparently was swept away while driving. The other victims included two people who may have been part of a human chain trying to reach people stuck inside a van.

The state reported 120 roads remained closed. Many were still underwater. At least six bridges were washed out.

"There may be a few more, but until the water recedes, we're not going to know," said Linda South, a Transportation Department spokeswoman.

Los Angeles Times Articles