1985 Virginia Election Day Flood, Waynesboro/Augusta Co

At the time of the flood, we lived smack dab in the middle of a flood plain, in the beautiful neighborhood of Club Court, in Waynesboro (Augusta Co), Va. Raising four children, in a lovely area of homes on cul de sacs, meandering streets on the banks of the South River, a usually safe and quiet area of 49 homes, nestled in the Shenandoah Valley, at the foot of Afton Mountain, & the Blue Ridge. It was a joyous & serene setting for families. We had lived there for 9 yrs, & knew when to worry from previous high water events. For example, the large rock in a neighbor’s back yard on the edge of the river, when it was covered in water, we knew to be concerned. The city was quickly approaching flood stage. The City Manager, Police, WFAC Rescue Squad, Fire Dept., & City Shop’s personnel, would periodically visit our neighborhood, to keep us aprised of river conditions, in the 48-hrs preceding the flood. We felt their concern, and consequently felt safer, & we so appreciated their presence, as a show of support. Waynesboro is blessed to have now, as we did then, a caring city government & emergency services sector. Small towns care for their own, oh so well. However, nothing really prepared us for the unexpected days of continuous rains, and rising waters, eventually resulting in 3 1/2 feet of swiftly moving water, reaching over our kitchen counter tops. We slept with our clothes and boots on, in our Family Room, night after night, monitoring water levels. Cars had been moved to higher ground, and we prepared a list of friends with room for a large family, if we needed to flee in the middle of the night. Two times that week, we sought higher ground, the first resulting in water receeding before it entered our home. My daughter, in middle school at the time, recalls her father at one point yelling, “run up the hill to the car, we’ve got to go”. I began to cry for the first time, when I saw Christmas decorations made by the children, floating away in flood waters entering our garage. The four children were moved three blocks away, high on a hill, at the entrance to Club Court, to the home of a close personal friend. Later, the two youngest children were moved out of state to our families, the Tydings & Frushours, in Md., while renovations took place. It takes a special type of person to welcome a family of six into their home in the middle of the night. God bless Judy Mauck, a Physical Therapist, at Waynesboro Community Hosp. We will never forget her kindness; the children lived with her for 2-wks., as we did periodically, when not guarding our home. Looters had sneaked into our neighborhood, bypassing the barricades set up by Law Enforcement. Disasters bring out the best & worst in people. By in large, our experience was wonderfully supported. Someone stole my husband’s power tools, and my stamp & coin collections. Many wonderful people came to our aid, preceding & following the flood. Friends & strangers moved our first floor furniture to the 2nd floor. Fishburne Military cadets offered their services with heavy lifting; such wonderful teenagers. Our teenager’s friends came out in droves, along with their parents. Former clients of mine, were some of the first to show up, the morning the waters receded. Isn’t that amazing, people wrestling with their own demons of addiction and major mental illness, rolled up their sleeves, & showed up to assist, some even before my own friends could get to the house. Offers for cleanup came from far and wide, with supplies and food; relatives from out of state arrived by the car loads, with mops,cleaning supplies in hand, and shoulders to cry on. I cried a lot the first few days after the flood, my husband looked numb. People remember the darndest things in retrospect, after experiencing a disaster. Jerry remembers 1st, as he drove back down to our house on the river, an “Oh No” moment, as he realized approaching the back of the house, on higher ground than the house, that the woodpile, he added to all summer, cutting down trees won in a Lottery Program from the National Park Service, was gone. My daughter Kelley, 1st remembers that the dog house was missing from the back yard, as was her two younger brother’s sandbox. She remembers my crying over loosing my mother’s 1st edition, signed copies of the original OZ books, & photo albums. Her two younger brothers lost all their toys & games, stored in the basement. She & her older brother never complained that their College Fund, went to cover repair costs not reimbursed through insurance. They went on to attend, between the two of them, four fine Virginia colleges & universities, as out-of-state tuition was out of the question. Regardless, they thrived & succeded quite well. We hugged a lot. We had each other, the kids. Our work and church communities wrapped loving arms of support around us. Many flood survivors in Augusta Co. were not as fortunate; some had deaths, & some just a cement slab, where a home once stood. Some had no support system and few friends. We sent extra volunteers to the homes of people needing assistance. We were blessed. My collegues from Western State Hospital, janitorial staff, many, many social work friends, the Treatment Team I worked with, & physicians, spent countless days cleaning, along with Hershey Choc. employees, & local Elks. The City “fathers” made countless visits with words of support, and we got to know FEMA intimately. A surprise to some, we became & are to this day, FEMA fans. The Red Cross ERVs & Salvation Army Canteen food trucks would make their rounds through the neighborhood, with sanwiches & hot coffee. Ministers from a gazillion denominations came by; all were wonderfully available for a chat when my heart felt too heavy from upsettedness & grief. I took 2-wks leave from work. We were lucky, as we were well insured through our Home Owners coverage, and National Flood Insurance. We pumped out the basement, to find snakes, fish, and a turtle. We all got very sick with a GI bug, from cleaning up sewage affected items, even after taking all recommended sanitary precautions. We ripped out insulation and walls, flooring, tore out carpet, refinished floors, and slept like the dead, exhausted, at night. Waynesboro recovered, many homes were bought out through Project Impact funds; the city continues to wrestle with flooding problems to this day. We now live on a hill. Susan Tydings Frushour 10/22/10


About tydingsfrushour

Retired social worker, EMT, Red Cross disaster responder. Disaster response, animal rescue, gardening, family, & writing, round out my life. Enjoy country life in the Shenandoah Valley & Blue Ridge mountains.
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2 Responses to 1985 Virginia Election Day Flood, Waynesboro/Augusta Co

  1. Alison VanderMolen says:

    Susan, when I saw ur post about ur blog, I jumped immediately to it. I have felt connected to u since we first met, so I knew I would be in for a treat. Needless to say I was not disappointed! Thank you for sharing!
    Love You!

    • Thank you Ali. You are the first person to ever respond to one of my Blog posts. What a treat to hear from you. I didn’t edit it well, ck the spelling, & only put it together on my BlackBerry. Will polish it up when I get home. Just wanted to put my thoughts on paper while the writing juices were flowing. Susan

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