VIRGINIA

Huntington flooding: Residents debate options after flood destroys homes

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Nearly a week after flooding destroyed dozens of homes in Huntington, it appears the inherent problem that caused the flooding in the first place will not be fixed.

“I need to make sure I can survive past that and not have to declare bankruptcy. And that is my biggest concern,” resident Ben Whelan-Morin said.

For Whelan-Morin and other Huntington residents, the stakes are high. They packed a hearing room Wednesday night to push for a long-term solution.

Among the attendees was Wayne Jones, whose family was rescued from their home. It traumatized his 38-year-old son, who has Down syndrome.

“Ever since the last flood, Wayne my son, has watched the Weather Channel, every day, for at least five hours a day, because he's scared to death,” Jones said.

Moving to a new place may be the best solution. The community is considering lifting the conservation plan to allow developers to buy residents out and construct high rises built for flooding. While that would allow homeowners to receive at least some money for their property, they'd have to leave their beloved community.

“For the first time my wife and I felt at home in a community, and to see what has happened, it’s just devastating,” Whelan-Morin said.

The other option is to get the county to allocate millions of dollars to building a levy. That idea has been talked about this for years, but probably wouldn't get enough votes to pass.

Even if Huntington could get the votes for a storm-water bond it would take five years to build the levee. The buyouts, on the other hand, could happen a lot sooner. ]

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