For some flood evacuees, return to homes a relief

Leon McCray, pastor of Lighthouse Church and Marketplace Ministries, stands inside the foyer of his church in Woodstock while a dehumidifier dries out flood damage Wednesday afternoon. Rich Cooley/Daily

WOODSTOCK — Residents of the Wood Park Lane trailer park who were forced from their residences by flooding were back home enjoying a quiet afternoon Wednesday after restoration of normal water, electrical and sewage service.

The residents, many of whom had been staying at Peter Muhlenberg Middle School, were notified late Tuesday afternoon that the 27 trailers in the park had been approved for occupancy after a day of building inspection.

At least 45 people were evacuated, but public safety officials said others were at work or elsewhere when the evacuation order was issued.

Deborah Spitler was one of those relieved that life was back to normal as she sat on the deck of her trailer. Spitler stayed with family members in Toms Brook during the evacuation. Like other residents, she returned to Wood Park Lane to find the electricity on but no water or sewer service.

Gary Yew, chief of the Shenandoah County Department of Fire and Rescue, said residents were able to obtain free bottled water at a convenience store and gas station across the street. The county, using a private contractor, also provided portable toilets until water and sewer were restored Wednesday.

“My husband went to the store to get a couple jugs of water, and the gas station out here was giving out water,” Spitler said.

Greenfield of Woodstock, the other site evacuated, was recovering more slowly.

Kristen Bolling, vice president of asset management at Greenfield’s corporate headquarters in Falls Church, said the 47 evacuees are scheduled to return Monday to the assisted living center at 935 Oak Road.

Bolling was at the site with contractors, who worked on replacing drywall, flooring and carpeting, all of it the result of a quarter inch of water that crept into the building and forced the evacuation.

Bolling said the residents are staying at the Comfort Inn and two assisted living facilities in Strasburg operated by the same company as Greenfield of Woodstock. No one suffered any ill effects from the evacuation to their temporary living quarters.

“We had a smooth transition — no injuries, no decline in conditions,” Bolling said of the residents.

Bolling praised businesses, private organizations and local government agencies for their contributions in caring for the flood victims and repairing the building.

“From a response standpoint, the local folks have been incredibly supportive,” she said.

Pastor Leon McCray of the Lighthouse Church Marketplace Ministries International faced a more uncertain struggle in his flood recovery effort.

McCray said his congregation, with considerable help from an Ohio-based religious organization, managed to clean up water, mud and debris that he discovered upon arriving at his church Monday morning.

The church at 246 E. High St. stands next to Spring Hollow Run, which overflowed its banks in the downtown and nearby streets.

“I woke up and came here and it was just like a river,” McCray said, adding, “all this was part of the stream. The building was part of the stream.”

The 8 inches of water and mud in the church are gone now, and 2 feet of drywall and insulation from the floor upward have been removed, but daunting repairs remain to be done. The work includes replacement of ruined carpeting that was removed from the church’s stage.

Christian Aid Ministries, an Amish-Mennonite organization whose mission includes providing relief for victims of natural disasters, sent volunteers who helped with the cleanup.

“They just showed up on the day of the flood and asked us what they could do,” McCray said of the Christian Aid volunteers.

McCray said church services will be held Sunday at the Comfort Inn, but he is unsure where later ones will be conducted while new drywall and carpeting are installed. The church’s insurance does not cover flood damage, and McCray said he needs to raise money to pay for the water damage.

He asked that donations be sent to Lighthouse Church and Marketplace Ministries International at Woodstock, Virginia 22664, or contact McCray by phone at 540-335-1528.

Yew said he hoped to have a damage estimate to submit to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management today. The agency will determine what, if any, aid Woodstock will receive from the state.

Yew said the relief efforts were bolstered by close coordination between the county and outside agencies.

“It went extremely well,” he said.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com