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For Va. flood victims, the clean up continues

Tuesday - 9/13/2011, 4:37pm  ET

Residents of the Holly Acres Mobile Home Park in Woodbridge returned Tuesday to find their homes and possessions destroyed. . (WTOP/Hank Silverberg)
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WASHINGTON - Most of the flood waters have receded, but residents and work crews in Fairfax and Prince William counties continue to clean up from the rain.

At the Dale City Recreation Center, the cots are still spread on the gym floor where more than 150 residents of the Holly Acres Mobile Home Park spent Monday night.

Their homes, located just off Route 1, were wiped out when a nearby creek flooded.

Some of those residents went back to their destroyed homes Tuesday to organize and then filed a petition with the Prince William County Supervisors asking them to extend the temporary shelter past the Friday noon deadline.

The displaced workers, like Faustino Lopez, a father of four, says they have little alternatives for housing and need more help. Lopez lost his trailer home, his truck and all his work tools when the water from the Murumsco Creek rushed into his neighborhood Thursday night.

But Prince William County Supervisor Chairman Corey Stewart says the county simply does not have the means to help more.

"We don't want to give them the impression that we are going to be able to take care of their housing needs past Friday," he said before the board of supervisors meeting Tuesday.

At the packed meeting, Stewart gave out the phone number of Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., telling the petitioning residents they should ask him for federal help.

On Monday, Connolly was critical of the county's response to the crisis. After giving those displaced some clothes to wear and some initial food, other forms of assistance, especially alternative housing, have been slow to come.

"There aren't a lot of affordable housing opportunities in Prince William County, and a lot of these folks are going to be in a place of deep pain," Connolly says.

He says closing the shelter on Friday is premature.

"Declaring an arbitrary deadline doesn't mean the problem goes away," Connolly says.

At Holly Acres, landowner Hank Ridge -- who admits he hasn't been at the facility in a decade -- says the county has been trying to shut down the mobile home park for years. He says the residents are mostly Hispanic.

"What is being done, can be substantiated that there are some discriminatory attitudes," Ridge says.

Stewart called that charge "BS." He says the park should have been condemned years ago for safety reasons and because of flooding.

The entire mobile home park is now likely to be condemned by the county, displacing 500 families.

In the Huntington section of Fairfax County, residents are picking up the pieces and drying out what's left of their belongings -- rugs, clothes and other possessions.

They are tired of natural disasters and tired of waiting for a levee to be built at Cameron Run. It was proposed five years ago, but never started because of cost concerns.

"I don't understand why it can't be fixed," says the Rev. Carolyn Boyd, who lives along Arlington Terrace.

WTOP's Hank Silverberg and Neal Augenstein contributed to this report.

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All rights reserved.)