Residents in the Huntington area of Fairfax County -- evacuated from their homes Monday night as Superstorm Sandy battered the region -- were breathing easier Tuesday after learning that the flood-prone Cameron Run's waters didn't rise nearly as high as officials had feared.
County officials feared the waterway might rise as much as nine feet, devastating a neighborhood that suffered severe flooding in 2006 and 2011. They ordered the evacuation of residents on Fenwick Drive and Arlington Terrace, the two streets closest to the water, and opened a nearby shelter to house them.
"I cleaned out everything from my basement and put it on higher ground," said Joe White, a resident of Arlington Terrace. "We looked outside, saw the wind picking up and knew we had to get out of there. We evacuated before the worst of it hit."
White, whose basement flooded in previous storms, escaped a similar disaster this time.
"I was expecting the worst," White said. "You never know with these kinds of storms. But to come home and see that everything was alright, it was relieving."
(See a photo gallery of storm images)
County Board Supervisor Gerry Hyland, D-Mount Vernon, whose district includes Huntington, said he was pleased with how residents responded to the impending threat of flooding.
"We could not have asked for a better response, not only before, but during," Hyland said. "To say we were prepared would be an understatement."
But the issue of flooding in Huntington will not subside along with the water levels of Cameron Run. Fairfax voters are being asked to approve a $30 million bond issue on the Nov. 6 ballot to build a levee and pumping station in the neighborhood. Three board members -- John Cook, R-Braddock, Pat Herrity, R-Springfield, and Michael Frey, R-Sully -- opposed the levee project in May, citing the high costs and limited benefit for the county.
But board Chairwoman Sharon Bulova called the levee necessary and said it could be built without increasing taxes on residents.
As he prepared to move back into his house Tuesday, Joe White said he's hoping fellow county residents approve the money needed to protect his neighborhood from future flooding.
"We need [the bond] to pass," White said. "A bad economy doesn't negate the county's responsibility."