By: Terry Harris | Email: Click Here
Posted: June 27, 2019 | 9:51 a.m.
WAKEFIELD – Last Saturday the staff of the iconic Virginia Diner traded in their pots and pans for cleaning gear as they cleared away the leavings of flash flooding that left the building a virtual island just the day before.
“Rain came in, and the ditch is the lowest lying area of Wakefield,” explained Operating Officer Chris Epperson, as she and the staff took a brief lunch break from mopping up water. “So when rain flows it eventually runs through that ditch. It overflowed because we had so much rain – I heard 7 inches in an hour – a lot of rain here. And with it getting on the road, when you have cars and trucks going through it, you’re going to have a wake. And that wake is what pushed the water up into the diner.”
Epperson, whose family had owned The Diner, as it’s known locally, until just a couple of months ago, continued, “The new owners are devastated. They wish they were here right now. It’s the way of things. You plan family vacations or weeks away and that’s when things happen and that’s what happened this time. But they are in touch. We’re sending them pictures and running everything by them.”
“It wasn’t bad,” Epperson responded when asked about the flooding inside. “It skimmed the floor. It’s not deep – wasn’t even a half inch I don’t think. Back in ’99, it was up into the windows. But we have a good group of people and they come, and they help. Our staff and the community. It is one and the same.”
Joe Wright, local retired VA State Trooper who teaches at Tidewater Academy, was there in the parking lot as efforts went forward to re-open the restaurant as quickly as possible.
“I’ve been eating here for 30 years,” he said, adding that he had every confidence that it would reopen quickly. “This is an icon.”
Epperson, when asked when The Diner was expected to reopen, immediately responded, “Tomorrow. We’re aiming for tomorrow. It’s the community pulling together and making it happen. It’s truly a community business. Our food vendor took his day off and went to pick up food for us as an emergency. We actually had a cooler that went out – I believe the breaker tripped on it – so he went and picked up what was in that cooler for us and we will be back here in fine form tomorrow.”
And sure enough, despite some truly grim images from the day and night before, the next day The Diner was open for regular Sunday business.