2011 Huntington Flood: A Family's Story
Juan Ayala, Pietra Check and their daughter, Sophia, managed to save a couple of their most sentimental belongs
Pietra Check sat helplessly at the Cincinnati airport, reading text message alerts from Fairfax County's CEAN service as flood waters approached her home on Arlington Terrace.
First came the flash flood warning, then a warning of minor street flooding, and eventually the evacuation orders for her street. As Check received her messages, her husband, Juan Ayala, and daughter, Sophia, were at home facing the rising water.
According to Check, Ayala moved his car up to prepare for street flooding but was taken off guard when the water rose even higher at fast rate.
"By the time they gave the evacuation order, you couldn't leave the street," Check said, based upon what her husband told her. "You couldn't use your car."
Ayala took the couple daughter to a friend's home on Mount Vernon Drive near Huntington Avenue. Check met them there after she flew into town.
Two-year-old Sophia had a hard time going to sleep Thursday night, Check said. She wouldn't fall asleep until Check was home and awoke numerous times in the middle of the night crying out for her father.
"I think she knew that [Ayala] was freaked out and that freaked her out," Check said.
The couple's home sustained about 2 ft of water damage and a variety of ruined belongings. They managed to salvage some of their most important possessions.
A picture of Ayala's father in uniform from his service in the Korean War was saved. "His dad died three years ago," Check said. "This is the only thing we have of his dad."
Another sentimental possession—a cookbook belonging to Check's grandmother—received water damage. Check had the book laid out outside with paper towels between pages in hopes of salvaging it.
In addition to the sentimental objects, the couple lost a computer, a water heater, and maybe the washer and dryer.
"When I opened the dryer door this morning, there was water inside of it, so I don't think that bodes well," Check said. "But we will see."
Check's power hasn't been restored yet, and she hasn't been given a definitive answer as to when that will be. "I'm kind of tired of asking and getting people just to tell me they don't know."
"It's always hard because I know that their main concern is everybody's safety and security, and our main concern is getting back in our houses. Sometimes those are in conflict," Check said. "I work in public health, so I deal with that all time."
Fairfax County will host the Huntington community on Saturday at 9 a.m. at Walt Whitman Middle School to answer questions regarding inspections, permitting and referrals for emergency assistance. Supervisor Gerry Hyland and Chairman Sharon Bulova will be in attendance. Check said she plans to go but wishes the meeting was later.
"We're going to be down in Woodbridge staying with friends, and to get to that by 9 a.m. tomorrow it's not going to be what I plan on doing at 8 o'clock," Check said. "I hope they have free coffee and donuts."