Update Nov. 29 6 p.m.:
The board did not make a decision on the Holly Acres situation, Stewart said they need more information from the Commonwealth as well as from staff.
Residents spoke out at Tuesday’s Board of County Supervisor’s meeting to voice their support of the Zoning Board of Appeal’s unanimous decision to allow the owner of Holly Acres mobile home community to rebuild.
Many members of the faith-based community spoke in support of Holly Acres residents. Remnants of Tropical Storm Lee caused flooding in Prince William and Fairfax counties on Sept. 8. Holly Acres mobile home park was devastated by the flooding, causing almost 65 families to be displaced.
Pastor of Potomac Crest Baptist Church, J. Douglas Duty, whose congregation was among those to act quickly with aid for residents – including a clothing drive and item drive – urged the board to uphold the Zoning Board of Appeals’ decision.
Duty asked the board to show that people mattered, not property.
Father Gerry Creedon from Holy Family Catholic Church in Dale City also voiced his support for the Zoning Board of Appeals.
“We need to look at this as the part of broader issue of homeless in our county and our nation,” said Father Creedon.
Matty Lupo, director of social ministry at Holy Family Catholic Church said that she has worked with families from Holly Acres since the flooding began.
“I continue to support them and hear stories of how the children are affected, drawing pictures of what they remember, expressing hope that PWC will do the right thing and let them back to begin again,” said Lupo.
After citizens’ time was closed, Chairman Corey Stewart addressed those that had spoken, driving home a message that the board was not “uncompassionate."
Stewart said that the board needed to make a decision regarding Holly Acres Tuesday and that he did not know which way it was going to go, but that the board’s responsibility is to keep residents safe.
“There were over 20 swift boat rescues in that mobile home park that evening. The park was built in the early 1960s, that’s obviously the reason it was placed there. Back 60 years ago we didn’t have the regulations that were in place to protect these residents,” said Stewart. “Folks, the majority of this area is in a floodway. It means not only does it flood, but the water is moving. Essentially, it means it becomes a river. Many of these trailer homes were pushed up into the trees. The most amazing thing is that not a single person was killed.”
“It may not flood again this year it may not flood next year or in the next 10 years. But the chances of a significant flood happening in the same place, are very significant,” said Stewart. “In 20 years when another flood comes and if this board does nothing, imagine where the moral culpability lies? It lies with us. For me personally, I don’t want to be morally responsible for having a family wiped out because I didn't have the political courage to say no to the rebuilding of a trailer park in that area.”
Stewart repeated that it would be irresponsible to let people move back into that area, which may also endanger future residents who are not aware of the flood risk.
Stewart also addressed the issue of the CSX culvert located behind Holly Acres, often blamed for the flooding on Sept. 8. “Some claim replacing the culvert would fix it, but that is not true,” said Stewart.
Editor’s Note: The board is currently in closed session as of 5 p.m., stay with Patch for further updates.