Fifteen years after Floyd

Published 10:00 am Saturday, September 20, 2014

In all the conversations I’ve had this week about the flood, the most consistent sentiment I heard was that it’s hard to believe it’s been 15 years since Hurricane Floyd came calling. When Floyd made his way through North Carolina and Virginia on Sept. 16, 1999, I was still living in Richmond. Having been born and raised on the East Coast and to have experienced firsthand the eye of Hurricane Gloria in 1985, I have always had a healthy respect for — but not a crippling fear of — hurricanes. As Floyd approached that day, I recall feeling totally unimpressed by the storm. I didn’t expect much out of Floyd. And in terms of the hurricane itself, I was right.

A day or two later, my wife’s (who was my girlfriend at the time) mother called to say that Franklin was under water, and that Friday we made the trip home to see for ourselves. The view from atop High Street and Second Avenue of the city below significantly altered my initial impression of Floyd.

In many respects a visitor new to Franklin might never know Floyd had been there, save for the handful of markers scattered downtown indicating the depth of the flood and the few remaining vehicles with a bumper sticker that reads “You can’t drown a great town.” But those of us who live or work here know the impression Floyd really made, in the days that followed and in the years that have passed since, both in downtown Franklin and the community at large.

It may have been 15 years since he came through town, but Floyd, we’ve hardly missed ya’.

Is Southampton County open for development at all?

With all due respect to the writer of today’s letter to the editor, which concerns the potential development of property across Rt. 35 from the entrance to Southampton Middle School, the implication that Southampton County is open to development at any cost — especially the safety of its children — couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, the actual events of recent years lead me to wonder if Southampton County is open to development at all.

Let’s review together a list of projects that Southampton County residents have been opposed to in recent years; the Navy’s OLF project (which I still maintain the county was correct in opposing); the development of the Turner Tract; American K9, which sought to lease private land for their military dog training business; the development of property at Riverdale Elementary School for potential mixed use; the construction of a new wastewater treatment facility; the reconstruction of the bridge on Rt. 35 in Courtland; Enviva’s wood pellet plant; and now, the possible rezoning of private land on which the owner may seek to develop a convenience store and/or fast food restaurant.

And yet some people still wonder why our economic development team hasn’t had more success in bringing new business to Southampton County. I’m literally left shaking my head.

Coffee and donuts with The Tidewater News

On the second Wednesday of each month, beginning on Oct. 8, our news staff (and yours truly) will be opening the front doors at 7:30 a.m., and we are inviting the community to join us for some coffee, donuts, and friendly conversation here at The Tidewater News. Our hope is that you will stop by to visit, enjoy some breakfast, and talk to us about whatever is in that day’s newspaper, what’s happening in the community or simply share whatever is on your mind. We truly value the relationship we have with our readers, and our goal is to make ourselves as available to you as possible. Please make plans to join us.

Historic newspaper editions wanted

In doing some research this week of our initial coverage of Hurricane Floyd and the flood in 1999, I discovered that we have no longer have any original copies of the newspaper that came out after the flood.

A change in ownership and the way we now electronically store our archived editions has caused us to lose touch with original hard copies of our most iconic editions.

If you have any copies of The Tidewater News that hold historical significance, such as the flood, the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Kennedy assassination, or the like, please let us know.

We’d be interested in acquiring them for our records or permanent display.

TONY CLARK is publisher of The Tidewater News. His email address is