The lead stories in today’s Potomac News and Manassas Journal Messenger say a lot.
The wind, rain and rising water brought on by Hurricane Isabel left a mark on our community that will not be forgotten anytime soon. The high winds blew over trees that could no longer be supported by the rain-saturated earth. Large trees fell through homes and onto area roads. Power went out and it is still out in many parts of the Prince William- Manassas area.
Sherrie English, who lives in central Prince William near the upper part of the Occoquan River, lived through the type of experience that so many fear when a severe storm hits. At the height of the storm, a century-old oak tree fell through her home.
“You feel like you’re in a nightmare – like it can’t be real,” she told one reporter.
Her story was similar to many others the day after Hurricane Isabel rumbled through Northern Virginia. These are stories of Mother Nature’s fury and the destruction it caused.
Tim’s Rivershore restaurant, a local landmark on the Potomac River near Cherry Hill, was hit hard by the storm. A new deck where happy patrons were eating steamed crabs and having cold drinks just days ago was reduced to a mangled wreck of splintered two-by-fours. The restaurant was flooded, the docks are under water and no one, not even the owner, is sure just exactly how bad the damage is.
The news was similar up and down the Potomac and Occoquan river shores on Friday as residents and business owners surveyed the damage.
Butch Waite saw his summer cottage explode “like someone put a bomb in it.”
Steve Gill checked on his parents’ home on Bay Street the day after the storm hit and found similar destruction. His parents had fortunately left the house which was severely damaged. “They don’t have a home to come home to,” Gill said.
Hurricane Isabel was technically a tropical storm when its eastern flank struck Northern Virginia, but that’s no consolation to those who lost homes, businesses and other prized possessions.
There was some good news.
It’s the type of good news we often take for granted. No one in our area was killed or severely injured. That’s fortunate, considering what we were up against.
“We can always patch up real estate, but we can’t put somebody back together,” Barbara Tyrell told a reporter from her flooded Bay Street home near Occoquan Bay.
That says a lot.
While storm damage might costs thousands of dollars, docks, homes and boats are replaceable. The lives of our friends and neighbors are not.
It appears we were fortunate after all.