Scenes from Irene

This home on Darbytown Road in Varina was among several in the county crushed by falling trees during Hurricane Irene (photo by Tom Lappas).
Two days after Hurricane Irene, Henrico residents were displaying not only their ingenuity, but their sense of humor in the aftermath of the storm. The Henrico Citizen visited neighborhoods in the particularly hard-hit Tuckahoe District Monday and found widespread damage but positive attitudes as well.

On Sweetbriar Road in Westham, near the University of Richmond, the owner of a home partially collapsed by the weight of a huge fallen tree displays the sign, "Scratch and Dent Sale."

On Lakewood Drive in Westham (above), F. Claiborne ("Jay") Johnston, Jr., brought his car to a stop next to a reporter taking pictures and said jokingly, "I hope you're my adjuster!"

Although a crew was busily at work on their damaged roof – and a crushed car sat in the driveway – Johnston and his wife Carolyn considered themselves "extremely lucky."

They heard their tree come down at 3:15 p.m. Saturday, as Johnston was upstairs and his wife was downstairs.

"It was like a hand grenade going off," said Johnston. He speculated that the noise was the result of the tree hitting his wife's car, which appeared to take most of the blow.

"It's almost like the tree forked when it hit the house," he said, tracing the paths of the two tree-top pieces.

The glancing blow left a small hole in the corner of his roof ("You could go up in the attic and see daylight") but there was no water damage and not a single broken window.

"It went down one side of the house and killed the crepe myrtle and holly in the front. But hell, we can live with that."

With a smile, Johnston noted that his wife was inclined to look at the bright side of the destruction as well.  He quoted her reaction upon seeing her clobbered automobile as a delighted, "I get a new car!" 

Three trees fell within a half-block radius on Lakewood Drive; one of them totaled a Henrico County Department of Public Works truck that had responded to an earlier call, according to Henrico Fire spokesman Chris Buehren. It was the only damage to a county vehicle reported from the storm.

After seeing the damaged truck, Johnston marveled, "It was crushed! If those guys had been in it...."

Johnston's neighbor on Lakewood, Julie Black, lost her landscaping and a flower bed when county crews dragged a neighbor's hickory tree off her lot in order to clear the street.  

"They have a lot of nuts!" she said of hickory trees, tossing handfuls into the pile of debris she had collected.  "You never realize it until they fall."

But Black also considered herself fortunate. 

Home from her job at the darkened downtown offices of the Virginia Capital Trail Foundation, Black said Irene was much kinder than Hurricane Isabel, which dropped a tree on her home in 2003.

She offered nothing but praise for Dominion Power and the county utility crews, who responded quickly after both storms.

"A lot of people complain about Dominion Power," she said, "but I always defend them."

She waved to a neighbor driving by, and the neighbor opened her window to tell Black excitedly, "Dominion [Power] is here!"

As she drove off, the neighbor called out with a laugh, "We must have someone powerful in the neighborhood!"

A beach ball lies squashed – but remarkably, still inflated – between an uprooted tree and a now undulating fence on Glendale Road (above). Nearby, a BBQ grill tilts dangerously off kilter.

On Cedarbrooke Lane off Ridge Road (above), a fallen tree lies sprawled across the front yard.

An upended mailbox still rakishly clings to its pole on Cedarbrooke Lane (above), open to the sky, as if belatedly begging for mercy from the storm.

A car lies crushed beneath a huge tree felled by the storm on Cedarbrooke Lane (above).

On Baldwin Road at Stuart Hill, a tree blocks the road (above).

A tree lies across a yard on San Juan Drive off Forest Avenue (above).

On University Boulevard off Patterson Avenue (above), a falling tree had a domino effect on a utility pole and strands of wire are everywhere.

A fallen tree blocks the sign at Cheswick Park on Forest Avenue (above).

A tree at this home on Sweetbriar Road (above) was uprooted during the storm, taking out others as it fell

A neighbor on Sweetbriar Road (above) jokingly erected this sign, which read "Scratch and Dent sale" in the aftermath of the storm's damage.

On Tarrytown Road in Sleepy Hollow (above), the damage was similar.


On Cedarbrooke Lane, a tree flattened a barely-recognizable basketball goal.
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Smither named director of Henrico’s Department of Finance

Henrico County Manager John A. Vithoulkas has appointed Edward N. “Ned” Smither Jr. to serve as director of the Department of Finance, effective July 1.

Smither has served Henrico since 2013 as director of the Accounting Division in Finance. He will succeed Eugene H. Walter, who has delayed his retirement until June 30 to ensure an orderly transition within the department.
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State honors EMS officials this week

There were nearly 1.5 million emergency medical services calls and 4,063 incidents per day in Virginia just last year.

This week, May 21-27, declared as National EMS week by Gov. Terry McAuliffe, recognizes the more than 34,000 EMS personnel and 631 agencies in the state and commends their efforts and commitment to Commonwealth citizens.
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Norfolk man arrested at RIC after TSA catches him with gun

A Norfolk man was arrested at Richmond International Airport May 18 after Transportation Security Administration officers detected a loaded semi-automatic handgun in the traveler’s carry-on bag.

A TSA officer detected the .40 caliber semi-automatic handgun inside the man’s carry-on bag as it passed through the security checkpoint X-ray machine. The handgun was loaded with 13 bullets.
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Police release photo of hoax bomb

Henrico Police have released a photo of the clock that resembled a bomb that led to the arrest of a Richmond woman in Shot Pump earlier this week.

The device, which the woman told police she purchased at a yard sale, was visible in her car at the Whole Foods at West Broad Village May 19, and a passerby called police, fearing it was a real bomb. Police responded as they would have had the device been real, they said, because they weren't sure if it was real or not.
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Henrico school buses with compliance issue to be fixed this summer


The 176 Henrico school buses that have been purchased since March 2011 will be fixed during the summer, Henrico Schools spokesman Andy Jenks told the Citizen. The bus manufacturers will retrofit the buses at no cost to the school division, he said.

The brake interlock device is required on all automatic transmission buses in Virginia that were purchased after March 2011, which is when the device was added to the state Board of Education's requirements for school buses. As many as 4,000 school buses in the state may be affected, according to the Virginia Department of Education.
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The Shady Grove Coffeehouse at the Unitarian Universalist Community Church, 11105 Cauthorne Rd. in Glen Allen, will conclude its 16th season with Robin and Linda Williams at 8 p.m. For more than four decades, the Williams’ have made it their mission to perform the music they love – a blend of bluegrass, folk, old-time and acoustic country that combines observant lyrics with a wide-ranging melodicism. Tickets are $20 to $25; teens are admitted at half price and children age 12 and under are free. Net proceeds benefit UUCC. For details, call 323-4288 or visit http://www.shadygrovecoffeehouse.com. Full text

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