Not difficult to find Irene’s effects

Published 9:54 am Friday, September 2, 2011

Hurricane Irene has been the talk this week. It affected everyone in some way, or another.

During my coverage for The Tidewater News on Saturday in the midst of the blowing wind, I didn’t see many out and about. Armory Drive was like a ghost town. The only businesses I saw open by early afternoon were Family Dollar and Lowe’s.

By evening, it remained the same. Not many on the roadways, only emergency workers responding to storm-related matters.

Sunday morning, the sun came out and neighbors checked in. Timmy Vick of Newsoms stopped by my home outside Courtland to see how we survived and Jim Williams from Greenhead Road loaned us a generator.

I then put on my reporter hat and headed to Boykins, Newsoms and Franklin, looking for damage and talking to people.

I met Greg Cobb, who was cutting up a fallen pear tree in his yard on Highway 35 between Courtland and Boykins. Also met Donna Martinsen, who was raking up debris in front of the home of her mother — Mary Jo and Barry Birgensmith — at 32202 S. Main St. in Boykins.

Also talked to Ronald Darden, who will need two weeks to clean up the debris in his yard on Shiloh Road outside Boykins.

Then I headed to Newsoms, where I found Mayor Harvey Porter on South Main Street, where a large pine had the road blocked. The pine fell from Beale Carter’s yard. Carter’s son, John, and neighbor Damian Dwyer also were out cleaning.

Siblings Brittany and Jack Bunn walked down the street, carrying a cooler to the home of their grandmother, Joan Bunn.

From there I headed up General Thomas Highway to Franklin, where I came across James “Greg” and Belinda Mason, cleaning up a 90-foot tall oak tree that fell on their pickup and shed. What a mess!

Their stories were only the tip of the iceberg. Wish I could’ve heard more. Edna Porter called Tuesday; said she had a real mess at her home on General Thomas Highway outside Newsoms. Hoped to make it there, but just didn’t have time.

To all who shared their stories with The Tidewater News, thank you.

• Received the current newsletter from Southampton County Historical Society.

Dr. Charles Ryan will speak during the group’s 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 18, meeting at the Southampton County Government Center in Courtland.

Ryan recently retired from the Virginia Historical Society, where he served for many years. He is president and chief executive officer emeritus of the VHS and has written several books. Under his leadership, the VHS raised enough money for its endowment that it does not have to charge admission anymore. A graduate of Virginia Military Institute, he is part of Bryan & Jordan Consulting.

• Also got word that Boykins will have a Pumpkin Festival 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22.

It will be a chance to see all the improvements to the town of Boykins. There will be hayrides, a pumpkin decorating contest, games, vendors, a pumpkin toss, a talent contest and a petting zoo. There will be entertainment, specials at businesses, and food and beverages for sale. There is no admission fee.

GWEN ALBERS is managing editor of The Tidewater News. Her email address is