Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Residents struggle with flood recovery

Residents struggle with flood recovery

Dusty Compton | Tuscaloosa News
Betty Jones walks around fans in the kitchen of her home on Sierra Gardens Drive on Tuesday. All of Jones’ carpet and flooring had to be removed because of water damage. Her home is not covered by flood insurance and was originally deemed not in a flood plain. Jones and several neighbors in the Ashbrook subdivision have had their homes flooded recently by rain, all since construction of The Woodlands apartment complex.
By Jason Morton Staff Writer
Published: Wednesday, August 4, 2010 at 3:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, August 3, 2010 at 11:36 p.m.
TUSCALOOSA | It's been a week since flash flooding damaged Betty Jones' home.

City officials on Tuesday announced efforts to obtain federal financial aid for flood victims. Part of the aid requirements is a total of $5.8 million in damage and a large number of damaged homes. For more information, or to report flood damage caused by recent rain storms, call the city's non-emergency hotline at 311.
The 72-year-old retiree said she still cries when she thinks of the damage caused by the rush of water that flooded Sierra Gardens Drive and rose inside the house she's lived in for 16 years.
“It came all the way up to the top of my front doorstep,” she said as she walked over a stripped concrete slab floor littered with furniture and belongings.
Industrial fans line the inside of
her house as well as that of her neighbor, Pat Formby. They are among six to eight residents in the Ashbrook subdivision off Veterans Memorial Parkway whose garden homes were damaged by stormwater during the July 26 downpour.
And while neighbors, relatives and fellow churchgoers have pitched in to help the residents — one is even allowing them to live rent-free in his nearby vacant home — they say they're still overwhelmed by the cost of repairing what's been destroyed.
Jones said pleas for help to city leaders have, so far, gone unheeded. City officials said Tuesday that the Office of the City Attorney is still reviewing the flood damage claims to determine if the elements of city liability are present, adding that it's possible the city could be liable for some claims and not for others.
Their insurance companies won't help because they say the damage came from water that originated outside the homes and isn't covered under their homeowners insurance.
“I've been told that when it's a flood, they do nothing,” Formby said. “None of us had flood insurance because we're not in a flood zone.”

City Hall has said city leaders are in “recovery mode” and that the top priorities are finding the cause of the July 26 damage and a solution.
Mayor Walt Maddox said he is meeting with various departments almost daily to find answers.
While areas of Tuscaloosa — most notably, the area of Hargrove Road near Snow Hinton Park and the new apartment complex The Woodlands of Tuscaloosa — have flooded four times since May, the July 26 storm may have been the most damaging.
“According to information we've gathered, we had 4.2 inches of rain in less than an hour — that was the average,” Maddox said. “This appears to be more severe than the other three incidents before this.”
Much of the attention on the city's recent flooding issues has centered on The Woodlands, but those in the Ashbrook subdivision said they aren't certain that the new development is to blame.
Formby said water had come close to entering their homes but never had until the July 26 rainstorm. In fact, after heavy rains in May, she called the Office of the City Engineer to alert city officials and ask for help.
She said workers came and looked, but did not perform any major work, as far as she can tell.
“If they had done something when we called in May,” Formby said, “this would not have happened.”
Reach Jason Morton at or 205-722-0200.

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