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Virginians Overcome Devastation Stay High and Dry During Isabel

ISLE OF WIGHT, VA - Like many communities along the Atlantic coast, Hurricane Floyd wreaked havoc in 1999 on Mark and Patricia Thompson's home with 19-inches of floodwater.

"We don't live near a creek or stream. There is a dried up swamp behind us and we actually live in a 500-year flood zone, so we were taken completely by surprise when the water began to come into our home," Mark Thompson explained.

After the floodwater receded from their first floor, the magnitude of the destruction of Hurricane Floyd hit. "That's when you realize how much you've lost. We had no idea how bad the damage was," Thompson added. The house was nearly destroyed: the entire first floor and most of their roof due to high winds.

"That's where FEMA and the State (Virginia) and our local government (Isle of Wight) came in. We tied into a Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) project and got an SBA loan (U.S. Small Business Administration) that allowed us to rebuild and elevate our home," he said. "The choice was to elevate or move, and we chose to stay."

When Hurricane Isabel struck in 2003, the Thompson's home came through undamaged; however, their neighbors who came to experience flooding a second time around weren't as fortunate. "They came and stayed with us, and now they plan to elevate their home. We just feel lucky and fortunate that we live in this country," Thompson added. "We just can't say enough about FEMA and the other (agencies) and organizations that helped us."

Last updated June 3, 2020