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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Mother, son work to raise funds for Make-A-Wish


A mother and son duo raising money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Betsy Owen, Goochland County native, and her five year old son Israel have been making a difference in the Henrico community for two years. Owen works at Maggiano's Little Italy in Short Pump. Betsy and her fellow co-workers have split into teams to raise a total of $15,000 for Make-A-Wish. > Read more.

Eyes in the sky


Members of the Henrico Citizens Police Academy Alumni (pictured) got a rare peek at the “high” side of law enforcement recently, with a trip to the Metro Aviation Hangar adjacent to Richmond International Airport.

About 25 academy alumni gathered at the hangar July 11 to hear Officer Shaun McCarthy describe a typical day aloft - and some not so typical – in a Cessna owned by the Metro Aviation Unit. > Read more.

Rock on!


The painted rocks craze is thriving in Henrico, as a walk around the grounds of local libraries and parks will demonstrate. This rock was spotted near Libbie Mill Library, and there's a slideshow of many more uniquely-painted stones on the RVA Rocks Facebook page (https://facebook.com/groups/RVARocks/).

Painting and hiding rocks is a family activity appropriate for all ages, and parents especially like the way it fosters creativity and gets kids outdoors. > Read more.

Goochland man arrested at RIC with gun


A Goochland County man was arrested at Richmond International Airport July 19 after Transportation Security Administration officers found a loaded semi-automatic handgun in the traveler’s carry-on bag.

A TSA officer detected the 9 mm caliber handgun inside the man’s carry-on bag as it entered the security checkpoint X-ray machine. The handgun was loaded with 12 bullets. > Read more.

Kansas man struck, killed while crossing West Broad Street

A 54-year-old Kansas man was struck and killed by a car while attempting to cross West Broad Street near Bethlehem Road in the Near West End at about 10:30 p.m., July 19.

Julius A. McBride of Overland Park, Kansas, was struck by a car traveling east on West Broad Street. > Read more.

Henrico Business Bulletin Board

July 2017
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Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden will present Flowers After 5 on Thursday evenings through September. Stroll through the gardens and enjoy live music from Trio na Bossa, as well as family activities, wine and beer, dining and shopping. Lawn chairs and blankets are welcome. The Garden partners with the Richmond SPCA on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month for Fidos After 5 where leashed pets are allowed. Admission is $8 to $13 or free for members. For details, visit http://www.lewisginter.org. Full text

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