- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 21, 2003

Sofas, tables and mattresses littered lawns yesterday in the Belle View and New Alexandria sections of Fairfax County, where the smell of mildew lingered as residents cleaned up their flooded homes in the aftermath of Hurricane Isabel.

Carl Sell was working on the house where his daughter and two grandchildren live and was surprised the house was flooded.

“I’ve known this area since the 1940s, and we never had water in the house before,” Mr. Sell said. “We had 3 feet of water in the house … and everything on the first floor was ruined.”

Mr. Sell was one of the residents Gov. Mark Warner met yesterday as he toured the area. Karen Corbett Sanders and other residents asked Mr. Warner to call Dominion Virginia Power.

“We just asked the governor to make a personal phone call,” she said. “These neighborhoods that are dependent on electricity to run their [sump] pumps are continuously affected. We lost power on Thursday at noon before the storms hit the area, and sump pumps couldn’t work.”

Mr. Warner later said he had already contacted the utility “to reinforce” that neighborhoods in the flood plain are dependent on power for sump pumps to operate.

With more rain in the forecast for today and tomorrow, Mr. Warner said residents without operating pumps could dry out their homes only to have them flood again.

Some of the 2,500 Belle View residents who were evacuated because of Isabel may not be going home for a long time.

An inspection by county officials left residents with green, yellow or red stickers on the doors of their homes. Green meant it was safe to re-enter, while yellow indicated some damage but a livable home. Red meant the home was uninhabitable, and no one should enter it.

Merni Fitzgerald, director of the county’s Office of Public Affairs, said 16 homes had red stickers.

Earlier in the day Mr. Warner toured Alexandria, where some store owners in Old Town said Isabel left their merchandise under at least 2 feet of water.

Gary Crowe, owner of Kennedy Studios Custom Framing, said some of his valuable framed artwork was spared, but he believed he lost up to $100,000 in other merchandise.

Mr. Warner said as he looked at Isabel’s destruction around the state that he often thought Virginia was “incredibly lucky to only have 17 fatalities.”

He also said Isabel may prove to be Virginia’s most costly storm.

“All of Northern Virginia has been declared a disaster area,” Mr. Warner said. He said if people think they may qualify for federal assistance, they should contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Washington and suburban Maryland are also eligible for federal assistance due to the storm.

FEMA disaster-relief assistance: 800/621-FEMA.

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