Flood damage assessment and cleanup continued Wednesday in the Dry Creek community of Washington County as homeowners scrambled to recover belongings before mold growth sets in.
Washington County highway workers took down Doug Wilson’s house that was ripped from its foundation by the floodwaters and ended up lodged partly in the road.
Doug Wilson was not at the scene Wednesday, but his brother, David Wilson, was there.
“I was born in it, I’m watching it go,” he said. “It hurts.”
David Wilson said he and 11 brothers and sisters were raised in the farmhouse, and he’s lived in it most of his life. Watching it being torn down was just another chapter, but it may be one that ends his living along Dry Creek.
“We might just go on,” he said. “I don’t know. It might do it again.”
David Wilson said he’s seen his community grow closer since the flood, and he added he appreciates all the help from outside the community.
“I thank everybody’s help, especially the sheriff’s office. They’ve been extra good.”
Before the house demolition got under way, a few members of the sheriff’s office trudged through Wilson’s front yard — now filled with mud — to fix a broken flag pole that had an American flag hanging upside down.
Lt. Doug Gregg took a photo of the upside down flag — a signal of distress — on Monday, but with the outpouring of help, he and others righted it as a signal of strength.
“A flag upside down is a sign of distress. This community was in distress for sure. A lot of community support has come in since then,” Gregg said.
“Things are being cleaned up and we decided it was time to stand the flag back up. A flag standing up straight, to me, is a symbol America is getting back on its feet and this community is getting back up on its feet.
“I think it’s important for the community to see the flag standing up. It makes everybody stand a little taller, I think. It makes people give a little more, help a little more. It’s just a good symbol for everybody,” Gregg said.
The state Department of Health issued a warning for residents to not eat vegetables from their gardens in the area.
A warning about not drinking well water was already in place, but Chad Bruckman, assistant director of the county’s Emergency Management Agency, said the health department issued new information about gardens on Wednesday.
“We just received guidance from the state Department of Health that if your garden was in the flood area they recommend you not eat the vegetables out of that garden. They did indicate there were salvage procedures for certain vegetables,” Bruckman said.
The EMA is getting guidance from the health department and will pass out flyers to residents in the flooded area about the warning.
“When the flood occurred it destroyed a lot of septic systems and also took a lot of barns and garages that had a lot of hazardous materials inside. Those materials soaked into the ground and could be soaked up by vegetable gardens,” Bruckman said.
In addition to continued damage assessments on Wednesday, Bruckman said the Natural Resource Conservation Service also was in Dry Creek to evaluate the creek itself. The flood water damaged creek banks and essentially rerouted the creek.
“They’re in today doing an assessment of the creek system in Dry Creek. What happened is we had so much water it pretty much destroyed the creek and moved it in some places. There’s no banks anymore,” Bruckman said.
“I think there’s some sort of grant funding to help the county fix this infrastructure.”
Down the road at W.W. Miniature Horse Farm, friends and family of Bill and Wanalynn Chapman were busy packing up dishes and other salvageable items from the couple’s home.
Volunteers also were there helping clear mud and debris from the property to help the Chapmans begin the long journey of rebuilding.
Bill Chapman still doesn’t know if his house will have to be torn down. During the flood, there was 4 feet of water inside, he said, and now there’s a thick layer of sticky mud.
On Tuesday, the couple had help burying the dozen horses that died in the flood. The rest of the herd is now safe on another farm until the Chapmans can get their own farm back in order.
Bruckman said another concern for emergency officials and residents is a prediction of storms and rain on Friday.