PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) - Portsmouth resident Barbara Penn woke up to an ugly scene outside her home. It was so ugly she called police and 10 On Your Side for help.
The ugly word, the “N” word, was spray-painted on the street in front of her house.
“I just can’t believe this,” Penn said shaking her head, and pointing to her skin. She says she thinks the color of her skin brought racism to the front of her home. "I think it is a problem ... I am African American ... and they don't want me in the neighborhood."
The spray painted words “N_ _ _ _ R go away” brought people out of their homes to look at the street.
"It's disgusting. If you don't like someone, that's fine, but you don't have to chase her out of the neighborhood. She didn't do anything to anybody," said neighbor Kristeen Claudio.
"When I saw this, I couldn't talk. My heart was like, 'Oh, God.' It disappoints me, it angers me, it makes me fearful," Penn said. "I called [WAVY] because I know you help people. You knock on peoples' doors, and I know you get results."
10 On Your Side went looking for a power washer, and we found one at Portsmouth Fire and Rescue 3. Under the command of Capt. Steve Brinkley, five firefighters showed up to help get rid of the hateful words.
The spray paint embedded in the course asphalt wasn't coming up easily. In fact, the force of the power washer was etching the letters into the road. The firefighters got chemicals like bleach and liquid Comet, got on their knees and scrubbed until the paint was practically gone and the words unnoticeable.
"Oh, I leave my hat to them to come here and make it go away," Penn said. "They are doing all they can to take care of this....I'm very surprised...There are still good people out there."
The public servants of Portsmouth Fire-Rescue did not want to comment, nor did an employee from Public Works, who put down a chemical with an orange smell that magically took away the remaining signs of paint.
Portsmouth Police say they are aggressively investigating the racist vandalism, and you can count on WAVY to keep you updated on any new developments.
A company has been hired to complete the repairs to the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge on the Outer Banks, but how long those repairs will take remains unknown.
Drivers traveling between Hatteras Island and the mainland were forced to use an emergency ferry Wednesday, following the sudden closure of the Bonner Bridge Tuesday.
State officials say construction on a new Bonner Bridge has been delayed for years because of a legal battle with an environmental group.