“I wanted to save more, but we didn’t have time,” Espino said Friday. “It happened so fast. We [lived] 12 years in this trailer, and it’s all gone.”
The damage to the trailer park was so severe that Prince William County officials condemned every single home Friday, leaving about 100 people homeless.
Washington — a region that has been baked by heat, shaken by an earthquake, soaked by a hurricane and set on edge by a new threat of terrorism in recent weeks — awoke Friday to a new mess after Thursday’s flooding.
A day of relentless rain Thursday built into sneaky, swift-rising rapids that swept four people to their deaths, including a 12-year-old boy, forced hundreds to evacuate in Fairfax County, and shut several major highways, including the Capital Beltway and Interstate 66. At the peak of the rains, dozens of drivers had to be plucked by rescuers from their vehicles.
Some Fairfax County schools became impromptu shelters for hundreds of students stranded by the storm after their buses encountered traffic jams and impassable roads. In Prince William, about 300 people took shelter at Woodbridge High School, many from Holly Acres.
By Friday, officials were working to clear debris and tally damages to washed-out bridges and roads, commuters began returning to the formerly flooded Reston North Park and Ride to claim their mud-caked vehicles, and hundreds of people evacuated from the Huntington area returned after county inspectors examined their homes along Cameron Run to ensure their safety.
The effects of the deluge still are being felt this weekend, as high school football games in Northern Virginia and Prince George’s County, other outdoor sporting events and even some 9/11 commemorations have to be moved or rescheduled.
A joint search Friday by Fairfax County and military personnel from Fort Belvoir recovered the body of a fourth victim who had been missing since Thursday night. The Virginia Railway Express halted rail service Friday, and Fairfax County public schools canceled classes and warned that damage could disrupt bus routes next week.
Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) declared a state of emergency, while Sen. Sen. Mark Warner (D) toured Huntington, balancing the promise of a swift federal response while trying not to create unrealistic expectations at a time of severe budget problems.
Some Huntington residents, mindful of floods that washed into their homes three times in the past five years, expressed bitterness about promised remedies that have never come.
“They’re going to give us free pizza, free cleaning supplies, loans but not really assistance,” said Geoff Livingston, who evacuated his house about 6:20 p.m. Thursday and later posted video of the flood on his blog.