Andrew Duranso sits on the front porch that was washed away from his house on Lucy Road. His family had to climb out a window to escape the flooding. He has no other clothes except what he is wearing. His shoes were swept away. Photo by Ned Jilton II.
KINGSPORT — Flooding that hit the Kingsport area on Wednesday devastated one local family.
The Duranso family lives at 509 Lucy Road, one of the hardest hit areas of the flood, according to Leslie Earhart, public information officer for the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office.
When the torrential rains started to pour over the region, Gary Duranso had returned home after taking his son Andrew to the park.
Water started to fill up the ditch across the street and the front yard began to flood a little bit, but the family didn’t think anything of it.
Gary decided to step out and move the car and that’s when the water started to rise.
“Water started hitting the bottom of my car,” he said. “By the time I opened it up, (the water) was halfway above my door.”
He got out of his car and fell because the water was coming so fast.
Inside the house, his wife, Belinda, and Andrew were starting to panic. Water had started to come inside the house any available way, including through the sink and toilets.
Belinda doesn’t know how to swim and was worried she could potentially drown. They were trying to find a way out because the front door was blocked by the water.
Water inside the house had risen to around three and a half feet. After falling a second time, Gary finally got to the front porch and Andrew got out of the bathroom window onto the front porch. Only problem was the deck was beginning to float away from the house.
The bathroom window was too small for Belinda to fit through and that caused even more panic for her because she thought she was trapped. Gary told his son to be careful and went to try and open the door for his wife.
Gary eventually got the front door open just enough for Belinda to get out. The three formed a chain and made it across the street to higher ground.
“When I got over there to higher ground, my heart was just beating like this,” Andrew said as he tapped his chest with his hand really fast. “That’s how fast it was going. That’s how afraid I was.”
After getting to higher ground, the family were told their insurance company couldn’t do anything for them.
Belinda lost her mother in April, so there were no other family members to turn to for help. They called Gary’s first landlord when he moved to Tennessee, Joe Parker. Joe was asleep but his wife was awake and told them they could stay the night with them.
The next day, the family saw how extensive the damage was. Inside the car, mud and grass covered the engine completely. A pond formed in their yard to the left, and the front porch rested about 10 feet away from the house.
A neighbor’s shed had gone into their yard and knocked down a fence. What was remaining of the fence had mud and grass stretching up to four feet off the ground.
Inside, the damage was extensive. The air was filled with a musty, mildew smell and puddles of water and mud were still visible on the floor of the living room and kitchen. A freezer had been moved and any items not at least four feet high suffered damage, including Andrew’s school clothes.
What makes it even more devastating for the family is they didn’t have flood insurance.
The Duranso family asked for flood insurance but were told because they didn’t live in a flood zone they couldn’t get it, Gary said.
Both Gary and Belinda are disabled and don’t know what they are going to do. The Red Cross has agreed to help them, but they are having to abandon their home because the damage is so bad.
“We’ve lost everything,” Gary said.