Ooltewah residents concerned about costly flooding

Hunter Road flooding from February, 2019 shown by NewsChannel 9 Sky View photo:WTVC

In February of this year, Hunter road and the Flagstone subdivision experienced flooding that impacted homes and roadways for weeks. Now after some recent weather, neighbors are concerned again for what could come after multiple pleas for aid from their government. Amy Maxwell with Hamilton County EMA says eight homes in total were affected in the Hunter road area, but right now there is not much local government can do to help.

"As far as our office we have done everything that we can possibly do."

Danny Mahaffey and Bill Baker were both impacted by the early Spring flooding, and both expressed their displeasure with the lack of movement from their county government. Baker says he has been told different things, but have seen few results.

"Well we’ve never seen the help and was told it’s been diverted to the department of transportation."

Mahaffey feels its on Hamilton County and mayor Jim Coppinger to fix the problem. A problem that Maxwell calls a "natural sinkhole" on the land next to Mahaffey and Baker's homes. It's a sinkhole that has no drainage, so when heavy rain comes the sinkhole fills up and could even overflow.

Baker says he experienced about four thousand dollars worth of damages, but says a local church helped him pay for repairs.

As Hunter Road neighbors continue to advocate for proper drainage in the area, county leaders say their hands are tied. A spokesperson from the county mayor's office says that since the area the sinkhole lies in is private property, the county by law, is not allowed to work on it. Hamilton County EMA said the same thing, but also said they tried to get grant money from FEMA. Maxwell says for the state to get federal grant money, there had to be 200 homes with substantial damage. she says there were not 200 homes that qualified statewide during the February flood. To qualify as "substantial damage", homes had to be impacted inside. Maxwell says that also was not the case for any in the Ooltewah area.

"The water had to be at least 18 inches inside a livable space."

Now neighbors are turning their attention to what lies ahead in the unpredictable nature of weather. Mahaffey is concerned the flooding could happen again. Maxwell wants to remind everyone that the February flooding happened in the wettest recorded month in Chattanooga.

Looking ahead, EMA is still trying to help those impacted in the Ooltewah area. Maxwell says in 2020 FEMA will be launching the BRIC program which stands for Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities. FEMA says it's intended to reduce the complexity of the grants it offers.

This is a developing story, depend on us for more information as we receive it.

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