Flood strikes Heart of Virginia

Published 1:06 pm Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Heavy rainfall and severe spillover from the Appomattox River created flooding in roadways, businesses and residences.

Numerous roads in the area were closed, according to documentation from The Virginia Department of Transportation. Below is a portion of the impact the flooding has had in each county of our coverage area:


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Sarah Elam Puckett, assistant county administrator and emergency management coordinator for Prince Edward County, said the Farmville Communication Center reported 12 instances of downed trees that crossed

and six accidents that took place in the county over the weekend. At least two accidents were the result of hydroplaning, Puckett cited. Out of the six accidents, three involved injuries.

“On Saturday, the County Emergency Manager and the Director of the Piedmont Soil & Water Conservation District field checked the water levels in two watershed lakes and one private pond in the western part of the county,” Puckett said. “During the 24 hour period from Friday into Saturday, based on citizen reports and rain gauge measurements, some portion of western Prince Edward County received in excess of 7 inches of rain.”

Puckett cited that Routes 608, 609, 651, 625 and 659 had been closed, with Route 615 being passable with caution.

Dean Farmer, chief of Farmville Fire Department, said the department responded to four weather-related calls for service, which included downed power lines and trees.

The Town of Farmville has sought to unclog a pipe in the area of South Virginia Street and East Third Street Monday, which Town Manager Gerald Spates and deputy director of Public Works Mike Gaines said was due to sand in the piping. Spates and Gaines said no residents or businesses have been affected by the pipe.


Linda Sakowski, vice president of FACES food pantry, described the inside of the pantry after the flood as devastating after stepping inside of it Monday morning. “All of the freezers have been toppled over,” Sakowski said. “Fifty-pound bags of onions floated, knocked more stuff off, the smell was unbelievable. All of the stuff we put on top of the freezers were tossed into the water. Thousands and thousands of dollars worth of food gone. Over a thousand pounds of pizzas, Little Caesars, ruined. Mashed potatoes smushed everywhere. Just a trail of oozy, disgusting mud.”

“You can’t believe what it looks like inside,” Sakowski said. “The freezers are just knocked over like toys.”

“I’ve gone through hurricanes,” Sakowski said. “I’ve never seen anything like when … I just did not expect to see that when I walked into that building this morning.”

Sakowski said efforts to clean up the pantry and salvage food have been in full swing, but that the damage would be a desperate setback.

She estimates FACES could be out of business for a month or more.

“The people that we serve can’t afford that,” Sakowski said.

“We can’t afford $8,000 for new freezers,” Sakowski said. “I don’t know what we’re going to do right now.”

She said the pantry was featured on a segment of “Good Morning America.” She said FACES generated interest due to being in Farmville, the Vice-Presidential debate location. She also said it is one of the largest food pantries in Central Virginia.

“We’re run by volunteers,” Sakowski said. “No one is paid. It’s amazing we can get so much work done with people who are willing to volunteer so much time, and effort, and give of themselves.”

She said a lot of retired professionals offer to volunteer for FACES. She said BB&T Bank have donated $1,000 for a new freezer. She said they are grateful for the aid, and encourage the community to continue to donate.

“Without the public’s support, I’m not sure we can weather this,” Sakowski said.

She said the main phone line is down due to the flooding, but encouraged people to visit www.facesfoodpantry. com, to donate funds via PayPal, to look out for a potential GoFundMe for FACES, or call Sakowski at (434) 265-0278.


Khalil Latif, imam of the Islamic Center of Prince Edward County, said the inside of the building received approximately 2 feet of water.

He said he and the congregation have ripped out the carpeting and pulled out the rugs.

Latif said he and the congregation are seeking places to hold Friday prayers and Iftar celebrations, which is when the fast is broken at sunset for Ramadan, which is a month-long fast beginning May 17.

Latif said one prayer would take place at the Moton Museum.

“As of right now, the building’s not habitable, and we’re kind of trying to dry out, trying to dry the carpet out, if you go down there now, you can see we pulled the carpet out,” Latif said.

Latif said the center has received a called from Farmville Presbyterian Church and may look into having iftar at the area library.

“We welcome any assistance the public would like to offer,” Latif said.

To reach Latif, contact the Law Office of Khalil W. Latif at (434) 315- 0360.


While a few roadways in Cumberland had been closed, Cumberland Fire & (Emergency Medical Services) EMS Chief Tom Perry said the flooding has not had a serious impact in the county.

“Other than a few high water areas from flooded rivers and streams, there has been very minimal impact to Cumberland County,” Perry said Monday. “No major road closures, and no calls for service involving high water as of Sunday May 21, 2018. The county is under normal operating procedures.”


As of Monday afternoon, Routes 608, 633 and 609 are reporting closings due to flooding and washouts. On Route 633, Twin Creek Road, the road has been reported a washout, with an entire section of the road crumbling into the stream below it.