Hidden in bushy mountains behind a quarry and beside the Shenandoah River is a community known as The Bloomery, a tiny dirt-road stretch of mobile homes, barking dogs and mud-splattered cars.
Jim Roberts lives there with his wife Deanne and small son. Although he sometimes makes as little as $114 a week as a truck driver, he recently repainted his trailer, filled it with new furniture, and bought a new color TV.
Today, as the flood waters of the Shenandoah continued to recede, Roberts was in shock over the devastation in his town.
"We didn't have it real good to begin with," he said, "but now, we have nothing."
Although other West Virginia communities were hit harder by the flood than The Bloomery section of Charles Town, it is of little consolation to Roberts, whose trailer home lies broken and smashed against the autumn trees, and whose life savings now total $25.
Like others here, Roberts is angry that West Virginia Gov. Arch Moore has not declared Jefferson County a disaster area, which would make The Bloomery eligible for low-interest loans and other assistance.
"If this is not a disaster," Roberts said, "I don't know what is."
Without a place to live, the Robertses have been sleeping anywhere they can, including in the back of their 8-year-old Oldsmobile. With virtually all of their clothes gone, they have gratefully accepted Salvation Army donations.
Of the 39 trailers in the Shenandoah Plantations and neighboring Jones mobile home parks here, only two were washed away by the river. But many of them received extensive damage that will take years to restore.
"You know what disturbs me about the whole thing?" asked Charles Price, owner of Shenandoah Planations. "I don't have anybody down here on welfare. They're all retired, or they work for a living. So, when something like this happens, it makes you feel real bad that they can't get anything from the government."
"This place is bad," said Roger Hudson, a jockey whose own home nearby has buckled wood paneling, a ruined living room floor and a mud-filled bathroom where once-black riding boots now float in a brown goo. "But, I got friends and stuff, and some of these people got nothing."
David Ash, the county administrator, said local officials have neither the money nor the authority to offer relief.
They are referring victims to human service and charitable agencies that might help.
"For the county as a whole, things don't look at all bad," he said, looking around The Bloomery, where people worked in boots to remove piles of broken furniture and soggy rugs.
Linda Mitchell, a 38-year-old maid at the Hilltop House in Harpers Ferry, spent the last several nights sleeping in her 1979 Pontiac to protect it from vandals, while her husband and son have been staying with friends.
Her brown trailer is intact, but the furnace she just spent $110 to have fixed for the winter is ruined, and the family's Thanksgiving turkey lies rotting in the meat drawer of the broken refrigerator.
Everywhere, there is mud -- on the hamburger package that floated down the hall to the bathroom, on the Cabbage Patch Kid, coating the 50 pounds of dog biscuit strewn about the house.
"I just feel sick," she said. "We all feel just so sick down here. There's only about two people who have insurance."
Andre Roques, a retired 63-year-old who has had a heart attack and a stroke, said he did not know how he would have the strength to sweep the debris from his trailer.
His ice box had toppled, and the floor was littered with soggy Jell-O instant pudding boxes, birdseed and gravy packages.
Everything was brown, including the sink.
"I can't clean it," he said. "If somebody doesn't come along to do it for me, I'll just have to forget it."
Like many neighbors, he spent the first few nights sleeping with his dog in his car -- the station wagon with "ELVIS" license plates. "Hon," he said, "There's just no way to commiserate to you how I feel."
Millard (Blackie) Everts, a retired construction worker and part-time apple picker, has been sharing his car with his black Chihuahua, Queenie, since Tuesday. On the front seat are a muddy blanket and pillow.
Most of his belongings -- a fan, a mattress, some furniture -- were in a pile outside of his trailer. About the only thing left inside was a wooden sign on a wall that said: "He Careth for You." Said Blackie Everts, "The Man upstairs, He's the only one that's got the answer to this."
Ward Spring, a 42-year-old construction laborer, said he had full insurance coverage -- except for floods.
A pile of debris outside his trailer contained a Barbie sticker album, a muddy shoe, a doll without an arm.
"I'm going to try and stay," he sighed, peering into the broken deep-freeze, where the flood ruined most of his meat and left him not much more than a melted box of Popsicles and a bag of pinto beans. "I'm going to try and fix this up."
Linda Reed, 31, said the river carried away her back porch and an oil tank with $400 worth of fuel, among other things.
"I'm just hurt and frustrated," she said, a broom in one hand. "I broke down crying over it. I'm telling you -- especially when you've got four kids."
She said she rented a U-Haul truck and drove some of her furniture, including a china cabinet, to her mother-in-law's for safe-keeping. Now, she worries how she will pay the $50-a-day truck rental fee.
"I would move from the river if I had a place to go," said Reed, whose machinist husband makes $200 a week. "But a lot of these trailer parks are closing down because of the zoning, so where would you go, really? We have to stay."