Lack of concern from county, elected officials saddening

Published 4:33 pm Wednesday, September 23, 2020

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Wendi H. Simmons

As most of you know, in the early hours of Tuesday, Aug. 4, an EF 2 tornado hit the Route 58 corridor in Courtland with winds at approximately 130 MPH. This tornado damaged/destroyed several businesses and homes in its path. By the grace of God, nobody was seriously injured. Had this storm occurred during daylight hours a much different scenario would have occurred . Our family farm and our home, which my husband has lived on for most of his life, sits on much of the area that was damaged. The home has been a part of the community since that late 1930s. At sunrise, the area between the Farmers Market and 7-11 looked like a war zone on both sides of Route 58. A sight I will never forget. I am certain those who rode by those days after the storm felt the same. Our home had five rooms demolished plus substantial damage to an upstairs room. It’s one of those disasters that you think will never happen to you. When the Red Cross pulls up in your driveway to offer their services, you know you are “one of those people.”

When rare disasters happen, especially in small communities like Southampton County and Courtland, everyone comes together to show support. My husband and I have been incredibly blessed by the number of calls, texts, prayers and help from friends and strangers. We can’t thank enough the Southampton County Sheriff’s Dept., Sheriff Josh Wyche, the Rev. Bill McClung of CUM, and The Courtland Volunteer Fire Dept. who went to each and every home immediately after the tornado to check on the residents. Many thanks also go to the VA State Police, VDOT, Dominion Power and other line and utility companies and businesses that provided food on several occasions.

Sadly, what we didn’t see or hear from was anyone from our Board of Supervisors or the Southampton County Administrative offices. Our delegate, Roslyn Tyler, didn’t make a stop in our area either and if she did, she didn’t check on any of the homeowners. Tuesday, Sept. 22, will have been seven weeks since the storm.

How sad is it that as taxpaying citizens and residents of such a small area of destruction of Southampton County that was damaged, we didn’t receive one phone call, text, email, letter or a visit to see our damage or simply to “check on us.” It saddens me that what happened in our area has been life changing to those of us who experienced this disaster. You’d like to think your the leaders in your community have some sort of compassion. If they do, it wasn’t shown to us. And I pray that you never have to experience your home or business destroyed in less than 30 seconds.

To the other residents and businesses affected by this disaster, our prayers are with you. We can certainly be a support system to each other.

WENDI HARRELL SIMMONS is a resident of Courtland and counselor at Capron Elementary School. Contact her at