If another heavy downpour hits the Dry Creek community, there is little to hold back the stream that overtook homes and farms earlier this month.
“There are a lot of areas where the steam is completely out of its channel (and) there is a significant risk of flooding because of that,” Washington County Mayor Dan Eldridge said Wednesday.
But work on emergency repairs could begin soon.
“The Natural Resource Conservation Service has done a complete stream assessment of Dry Creek. Two and half miles is going to have to be completely rebuilt.”
The repair plan has two phases. First is the emergency remediation that will cost $880,000 “to address the areas that are in immediate threat of flooding,” Eldridge said.
“Beyond that we’re looking at probably another estimated $3 million and many months if not a year or more to rebuild Dry Creek.”
Most of the funding for this type of repair usually comes from the federal government, but with no federal budget in place there is no money.
“Typically 75 percent of that funding will come from the federal government. Unfortunately without a budget the federal government does not have money to offer at this time,” Eldridge said. “We are working with Congressman Phil Roe’s office ... they’ve been very responsive in this effort.”
Eldridge said because the initial phase is classified as an emergency, federal funding is available to cover 75 percent of that cost.
Last week, Eldridge said the damage to Dry Creek stretched from Buffalo Mountain Camp to the Nolichucky River.
That’s the area of the creek from around the 600 block to where Dry Creek Road meets Arnold Road and overflowed into fields and houses Aug. 5 during a heavy downpour that dumped around 4 inches of rain in a short time.
“Because of some of those areas ... will subject property owners to further flooding in the event of another large rain storm, we have to do emergency repairs,” he said. “Those will begin just as quickly as we can process the paperwork.”
One of the steps before work can start is to obtain temporary easements from property owners to access the creek. When that is complete, the county will subcontract the work out to get those emergency repairs under way, which could include building “gabian walls,” which are retaining wall type barriers to keep the creek in its proper place.
“Then we will go through the design and bidding for the remainder of the two and a half miles,” he said.