Carter County begins assessment of flood damage

John Thompson • Feb 25, 2019 at 11:16 PM

ELIZABETHTON — Roads, basements, sewer systems, septic tanks and a baseball field.

These were all areas of damage to public and private property by the weekend flooding in Carter County.

With the water receding Monday, local officials had their first real opportunity to assess at least some of the damage. Mayor Rusty Barnett said it will take several days to compile all the damage.

“It is all over the county, and we are able to see a lot more of the damage now that the water is going down,” Barnett said.

He said the Carter County Emergency Management Agency is compiling a list of damage, which will be forwarded to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency and possibly the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Barnett said there was a good chance of federal disaster assistance, since the state sustained widespread damage from east to west.

Like the state, Carter County also sustained flood damage from Elk Mills to Watauga. He said the Elk Mills region sustained several mudslides that temporarily blocked roads.

While the mayor said the list of damage is going to be a long one, the damage to the county schools was relatively light, according to Director of Carter County Schools Kevin Ward.

“The work done in Roan Mountain by our architect, Tony Street, paid off in Cloudland High School,” Ward said. Many other flood-prone areas of the school system were also undamaged.

Ward said the school system had two major incidents. There was a problem with a section of the wastewater treatment facility at Valley Forge Elementary School that was pushed out of place by the amount of water pressure in the soil.

That problem was caught early Sunday and was corrected in time to hold school Monday, Ward said.

Ward said the section involved was a smaller tank for one of the processes the treatment system performs.

The small tank is usually in the ground, but the water pressure from the heavy rain was so great that the tank was pushed upward and the pipes were no longer in alignment.

Ward said Monday that workers partially filled the tank with water to get it back to its proper location in the still-waterlogged ground.

The other major hit was to the baseball and softball fields of Happy Valley High School. The fields were underwater over the weekend from the flooding of Buffalo Creek. In addition to damage to the field, fencing was moved around by the waters

Ward said insurance agents were already working the school’s claim and Balfour experts to assess the damage to the field. Because baseball season is just about ready to begin, Ward said the work is being expedited. He said two other organizations have offered the use of their fields until the Warrior fields can be repaired.

Because a lot of roads still had mud and debris covering the road surface Monday morning, Ward ordered a two-hour delay for all Carter County schools. He said a list of roads that had sustained damage was also circulated and bus drivers told to use only the roads that were safe.

Carter County Highway Superintendent Roger Colbaugh said the good news about Carter County roads is that all residents were able to get to their homes Monday. Some roads were not completely open, some had only one lane open and some will require major rebuilds.

Riverview Drive was one of the roads that has been restricted to one lane over part of its way, as it follows the Doe River from Valley Forge to the East Side of Elizabethton. Colbaugh said the road sustained some damage and one section has sunk about 3 feet, but a lot of property owners sustained damage to drainage tiles and connections of their driveways to the road.

Another culvert remains out on Whaleytown Road, cutting the road into two sections, but Colbaugh said the rest of the road remains open to the closed section, making the road a pair of dead end roads that nearly come together.

D. Elliott Road in Hampton is another road that will need more work, but is open to travel. Colbaugh said metal plates have been installed, keeping cars dry.

Further details on flood damage and repairs will be forthcoming this week.

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