Cleanup underway after flood waters wreak havoc

Flooding at First Baptist Church, on Riverside Drive in Bassett.

By Brandon Martin

A weather system Sunday brought significant rainfall, which caused flooding, blocked roadways and power outages in Henry County and surrounding areas.

The Bassett and Fieldale communities were among those hard hit with storm damage.

The First Baptist Church, on Riverside Drive, had an estimated 3 to 4 inches of water inside, according to Brandon Helms who attends the church and helped with the cleanup effort.

He added that many had been watching the Smith River rise steadily for a while that afternoon and evening, so it came to no surprise when the water built up outside of the church.

Helms said he and 20 to 25 other people had been helping move furniture and remove water from the building.

“For the most part, it was mostly members of the church, but we did have a couple people stop by just because they wanted to help,” Helms said.

Helms said the cleanup this time around was a lot easier than a 1987 flood where four feet of water entered the church, causing “the piano to float a little.”

Extreme flooding occurred in other parts of the county as well.

New record high water levels were set at Philpott Lake, where campground closures have been extended until June 8, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which operates the lake.

The corps reported that heavy rain triggered a mud slide adjacent to and downstream of the dam. That in turn damaged the switch house, transformers area and infrastructure for the backup generator, which led t a temporary loss of electricity.

Water buildup behind Cunningham Tire in Bassett. The roof of the building collapsed.

The pool of the lake reached spillway event elevation on Friday, May 22, flowing over the spillway for the first time in history, the corps said.

Henry County Administrator Tim Hall declared a local state of emergency on May 24 to help first responders coordinate the numerous resources needed to respond and recover from the disaster.

A fallen tree limb causes a power outage on the 200 block of Rives Road.

Other than “a tree here and there” and “a few short outages,the City of Martinsville remained relatively unscathed, according to Danny Turner, who also serves on Martinsville City Council. He said the storms caused a significant power outage on the 200 block of Rives Road.

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