Cancer patient misses surgery due to flooding, volunteers step in
DICKENSON COUNTY, Va. - Spring flood waters have washed out several bridges and roads causing lasting problems for some residents of the region. One Dickenson County woman was left stranded and was forced to miss her cancer surgery. Darlene Deel has lived in her childhood home in Sandlick for 65 years, which is plenty long to know heavy rain brings flooding here. "It just creates a headache," Deel said. The Russell Fork River separates Dickenson and Buchanan Counties rises rapidly and often washes out bridges in its path. Recent heavy rains stranded Deel for days. "I had a hospital appointment to go in for surgery. I had to postpone that," Deel said. Folks came to her rescue. Dickenson County Sheriff Bobby Hammons and several local businesses donated time and products to rebuild the washed out bridge to Deel's home. "I was greatly concerned about her being across the river with no access if fire or rescue should have to go to her location, there's no way they could get to her," Hammons said. Deel has since rescheduled her surgery, but I checked with her neighbors in Sandlick and found out this was not the first time severe weather's impact on accessibility put someone's health at risk. "I miscarried a baby. I was flooded over here for three days and couldn't get across. If it hadn't been for water rescue and them coming to get me out, you know," Wanda VanDyke told us. VanDyke and her sister-in-law Penny Hurley live just down the road. Their bridge washes out every time it is hit with heavy rain. News 5 took the concerns to county supervisor Ronald Peters who is aware of a safety issue extending all along the creek bank. "The bank has been washing out, and there are people afraid their house is going to wash into the river," Peters said. He said the cash strapped county does not have the resources for repairs so he is reaching out for state or federal help, but admits he is not optimistic.