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Superstorm Sandy: Flooding forces evacuations

Stephen Van Stee, of Edinburg, stands near his home along Stoney Creek, where he said the water came up to the "Road May Flood" sign by 2 a.m. Tuesday. — Sally Voth/Daily

Six-year-old Christina Epard was still in her pajamas Tuesday morning after she and her family sought shelter at Peter Muhlenberg Middle School in Woodstock. Sally Voth/Daily

Sierra Epard, of Woodstock, amuses herself with a word game Tuesday at the storm shelter set up at Peter Muhlenberg Middle School. Sally Voth/Daily

Wilmer De Leon walks outside the trailer park on Wood Park Lane in Woodstock, which was under water on Tuesday. — Rich Cooley/Daily

A flooded resident inside this trailer on Wood Park Lane in Woodstock looks out the window beside Grubbs Cheverolet. Rich Cooley/Daily

Vehicles behind Grubbs Chevrolet were partially underwater on Tuesday. Rich Cooley/Daily

This group of vehicles parked in a low-lying area behind Grubbs Chevrolet are partially covered by water Tuesday morning. Rich Cooley/Daily

This group of vehicles parked in a low-lying area behind Grubbs Chevrolet in Woodstock were submerged in water Tuesday morning following the remnants of Sandy. Rich Cooley/Daily

By Sally Voth

Six-year-old Christina Epard was in her red and green plaid pajamas as she played at Peter Muhlenberg Middle School on Tuesday morning.

Nearby, her great-grandmother Elaine Rosengrant and Rosengrant's sister, Cheryl Brasington, played cards in the school cafeteria. Brasington's husband Ted was nearby, as was Christina's 8-year-old sister Sierra.

The family lives in two trailers on Woodpark Lane in a trailer park that was evacuated Monday night as superstorm Sandy roared through the Northern Shenandoah Valley. An emergency shelter was set up at the middle school.

Rosengrant said they were helped out by firefighters at about 10:30 or 11 p.m. after water surrounded the trailers. She said a firefighter carried her to safety.

"It was an adventure, all right," she said. "At first, I wasn't going to come up, but [Christina] said, 'I want to evacuate. I want to evacuate.' So, the poor old fireman -- I guess they're used to carrying a lot of weight on their back."

Brasington said they were told they could return to their homes Tuesday morning.

"We went down, and it's deeper today than it was yesterday," she said.

"So, back here we came," said Rosengrant.

The women bought cards Tuesday to keep themselves occupied, and Brasington lamented she might miss "Dancing with the Stars" that evening.

"I've got to see who they eliminate," she said.

Ana Figueroa and her three children also came to the shelter from the trailer court. Thirteen-year-old Patricia Figueroa said they, too, tried to return home early Tuesday.

"There was a lot of water," she said. "There was more than yesterday. It was like above our knees. We're just hoping they get the water out."

Translating for her mother, Patricia said they especially hoped they wouldn't need shelter more than one more night, "especially for the kids because, like, my brother, he was crying that he wants to go home, check on our pets and stuff."

The shelter was set up by the Shenandoah County Department of Social Services, said Lorrie Rhoton, program manager of the Top of Virginia chapter of the American Red Cross.

"They always open the shelters and run them for the first couple of days, and we're here to assist them," she said.

Rhoton said 28 people came to the shelter Monday night.

Dunkin Donuts donated breakfast Tuesday morning, Red Cross volunteer Julia Bowser said. She said a family from Pennsylvania stayed at the shelter after being in a car crash.

Assistant Shenandoah County Administrator Mary Beth Price said Tuesday afternoon the Red Cross would be moving three families still needing assistance to a motel.

Down U.S. 11 from Woodpark Lane, Grubbs Chevrolet had eight cars get swept up in flood waters.

"We had a few get drowned," Bobby Grubbs confirmed. "Water can only go so far. We have a holding pond in back of the lot that supposedly holds the water."

But if the water can't dissipate fast enough, it comes back up, he said. Water made it to the back of the car dealership, and there was about 4 feet of water in the wash room, Grubbs said. Workers did their best to save all the cars.

"They were down here [at] midnight moving stuff, getting some out of the way," Grubbs said.

Insurance will cover part of the cost of the lost cars, which were used, he said.

"I think we got by pretty good compared to some of the rest of the country," Grubbs said.

Also having a late night Monday was Stephen Van Stee, who lives on Palmyra Church Road right in front of Stoney Creek. He moved his office supplies out of the shop behind his home, but the water never made it that high. It did get up to the top of a sign warning of possible flooding, though, at about 2 a.m.

"This was the highest that I've ever seen it," said Van Stee, who has lived there for three years.

Not only was he watching the rising water, as a volunteer firefighter for Edinburg, he ran calls on three water rescues Monday night.

"It was people being stupid, and they're all guys aged about 22-25 in a small car and they're crossing flooded areas, and they get the car in the middle and then it stalls," Van Stee said. "What do you need to be doing in the middle of a hurricane at 11 o'clock at night? We had one of our fire trucks and we just pulled right up alongside of them and opened the door. They climbed out their window and climbed into the cab with us."

There will be no climbing or hiking or sightseeing in Shenandoah National Park for some time, thanks to Sandy. The park has been shut down indefinitely due to the storm's effects, according to the National Park Service's website.

Shenandoah National Park's Facebook page says rangers have reported about a foot of snow near milepost 35 on Skyline Drive.

Contact staff writer Sally Voth at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or svoth@nvdaily.com


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