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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FirstComp Insurance Company, Markel Corp. named top insurance carriers


Two Glen Allen-based insurance carriers have been named among the top such companies in the nation.

Markel Corp. and FirstComp Insurance Company (now owned by Markel) are among 38 carriers recognized on the Insurance Business America list of the top insurance carriers in the country. > Read more.

Walmart honors Citizen’s ‘Top Teachers’ during grand opening


The much-anticipated new Walmart Supercenter in Eastern Henrico opened to busy crowds last week, and company officials welcomed a special group of shoppers, too. > Read more.

‘It’s such a blessing’


On Independence Day, a Brazilian-born Henrico resident took the Naturalization Oath of Allegiance on the steps of the Virginia Historical Society and felt peace finally settle around her.

Jeanette Hamlett’s journey to U.S. citizenship is a story of faith and love, which she told with her husband, John Hamlett, by her side. > Read more.

Preschoolers give pillows to families in need


A group of preschoolers from Chesterbrook Academy Preschool donated 56 pillows to local families in need at the Housing Families First shelter. The shelter is always in need of pillows and linens as, since families take the donated ones with them to their new homes.

Housing Families First provides shelter and support for homeless families and assist them in finding a permanent housing solution. The shelter serves people year-round, said Terri Iguina, operations and volunteer manager at Housing Families First. > Read more.

Dairy Queen’s Blizzard sales July 27 to benefit Children’s Hospital of Richmond


Dairy Queen’s 13th Annual Miracle Treat Day – Thursday, July 27 – will raise fund to benefit sick and injured children being treated at Children's Miracle Network hospitals throughout the United States. Locally, $1 or more from every Blizzard Treat sold at participating locations will be donated to the Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU. Last year, the event raised more than $14,400 for the hospital. > Read more.

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July 2017
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The Senior Film Series at Sandston Library continues from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. with “Wattstax” (R, 102 minutes, 1973). The movie is related to the book “Respect yourself: Stax Records and the Soul Explosion” by Robert Gordon. Coffee and snacks will be provided. For details, call 501-1990 or visit http://www.henricolibrary.org. Full text

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