89-year-old Annabelle King of Cash Hollow was presented the keys to a newly constructed house Friday.
One year after floodwaters destroyed her home of 70 years, 89-year-old Annabelle King of Cash Hollow was presented the keys to a newly constructed house Friday, one of 22 new homes built through the Washington County New Build project launched by Johnson City-based Appalachia Service Project in response to the flood of Aug. 5, 2012.
One year ago Monday, King was exactly three months short of her 89th birthday, home alone and wading knee deep in water inside her house after torrential rains bought the little creek that runs through Cash Hollow out of its banks and over a large swath of her community.
“I’ve been in that house 70 years and the flood came right through it,” the spry octogenarian said, unfazed by the news crews gathered to hear her story and the story of the new home that was recently completed on her property. “I was up to my knees. ... The rescue squad got me out.”
King’s 15-year-old great-granddaughter, Cassi Nickols, remembers King’s first words as she stepped out of the floodwaters.
“The first words she said were, ‘What am I going to do?’ And the next morning it was a miracle from God. There were all kinds of people here.”
Much like Nickols’ recollection of the flood response, the nonprofit ASP ministry was quick to step in.
Partnering with Washington County, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati, the Small Business Administration, many community partners and hundreds of volunteer youth groups from churches around the country that the ministry brings to the Appalachian region each summer, ASP has replaced nearly two dozen homes destroyed by last year’s flood and repaired many others that were damaged, all at no cost to the homeowners.
To replace King’s home, the Johnson City Area Home Builders Association stepped up as the New Build project’s sponsors and JCAHBA’s president, Tim Hicks of Hicks Construction, served as the lead contractor.
With the property just a little more than a foot above the creek, Hicks said King’s new home site presented some extra challenges, but nothing that 18 loads of fill dirt and five loads of shale and gravel could not overcome.
“We built it up above the flood plain, and I don’t believe the flood can get her now,” he said. “We’ve overseen a few of these homes, and it has been a great pleasure for the Johnson City Area Home Builders Association. All that the Appalachia Service Project has done around this community is a great blessing.”
With that said, Hicks handed King her door keys and asked if she’d like to take the ramp that leads around the house to her back door.
“No, I want you to take me up those steps and go in the front door,’ she said. And so Hicks did.
Inside, with the news crews, her four daughters and many of her 12 grandchildren, 23 great-grandchildren and 14-great-great grandchildren gathered around her, King finally wept.
“I don’t know what to say. I just want to stand and look,” she said. “It’s something I never thought I’d have.”
A few tears and several hugs later she concluded, “I want to thank every one who did this.”
And on Friday night, King, who has spent the past year at the home of her oldest daughter, slept in her new bed, in her new bedroom, in her new house at her old address at 406 Cash Hollow Road.