Healing Hurley: Woman who rode home down floodwaters remembers the day in vivid detail

Virginia News

HURLEY, Va. (WJHL) — When deadly floodwaters struck the small community of Hurley, Virginia, a community in Buchanan County, many who lived along Guesses Fork Road lost everything.

Yvonne Wrife had lived in the same home for 42 years located near the mouth of the road. She shared the home with her husband up until 6 years ago when he passed. Following his passing, it was just her, two cats, a dog named Lucy and all of the memories that comes with over 4 decades of a home.

However, on Aug. 30 those memories were lost as her home was swept off its foundation in the flood.

“It was worse than any carnival ride,” Wrife said. “I was getting jerked and thrown and everything. I was just holding on.”

When the water started rising, Wrife grabbed the bare necessities, with her dog Lucy and cats at the top of the list. Unfortunately, she couldn’t get to one of the cats in time. As water filled the home, she quickly took action carrying the pets she could grab to the attic.

“We got up in the attic and sat down and I had my cat when everything was breaking and buckling, it was terrible sounding,” said Wrife.

She told News Channel 11 she sat on the pulldown ladder from the attic and wrapped her legs around the rungs as her house began to shake and eventually move.

“Water was starting to get in, and then there was this big jolt and I gasped and the house started floating,” she said.

Her home flowed with the rapidly moving water until it smashed into the railroad overpass. It’s a day many remember, including Tamsey Coleman, a Guesses Fork resident and employee at Hurley High School, who said she was on her way to work that day, but she never made it.

“There was mud, water in the road and then just boom. It started coming everywhere, rocks– bigger than any vehicle I’d ever laid my eyes on,” said Coleman.

While many remember the devastating aftermath, perhaps the most memorable sight was Wrife’s home lodged into the concrete at the start of the hardest-hit road.

Wrife said family came and helped her out of the home. Her two cats were unfortunately lost to the flood.

Wrife said just she, her dog Lucy and the clothes on her back survived.

She said it’s a day she’ll never forget, but one she’s blessed to have made it through. While staying with family, she longs for the day she can have her own home once again, a day she fears won’t come since federal individual aid has been denied.

With a new year comes new hope that Guesses Fork will one day be restored to its former state.

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