People in Southwest Virginia remember the derecho 10 years later

A mother and a first responder share their stories from the day.

ROANOKE, Va. – It’s now been a decade after a derecho devastated homes and businesses in the Commonwealth.

Many people, like Betsy Shearin, are sharing their memories of the storm.

It was a normal day at the Salem Red Sox stadium.

“Great game, we were playing the Potomac Nationals,” Shearin said.

[READ MORE: Looking back on the 2012 derecho that devastated the region]

Shearin, her son and her son’s friend attended the Salem Red Sox game before the derecho hit.

“We started watching the flags. They started to get crazy,” Shearin said.

Shearin said they were told to stay in the basement of the stadium, which is where they got to meet with Salem Red Sox players.

Shearin wanted to leave because it was hot in the stadium basement, but was thankful she stayed.

“There was trashed piled up, debris flying around like crazy on the parking lot, all the street lights were out. "

Bradley Wright, the emergency management coordinator with Pulaski County, said they received numerous calls after the storm hit.

He said the area was recovering from a tornado a year before the derecho hit. According to Wright, teams from five departments, including police and fire, worked more than 400 hours one day after the impact.

“I was off but went back and worked into the evening into the night. We responded to trees down, trees on the houses, being in the mountains you wouldn’t think tornado, or what was a derecho,” Wright said.

Botetourt County Fire Chief Jason Ferguson said they also had to deal with trees destroying homes and help cattle.

“We even sent firetrucks to assist with watering livestock because the pumps from the creek to fill the troughs were out,” Ferguson said.


About the Author:

Duke Carter returned to 10 News in January 2022.