Hawkins homeowners should report flood damage ASAP for possible state funding

Jeff Bobo • Feb 26, 2019 at 8:48 PM

ROGERSVILLE — Anyone who has flood damage to their home may be eligible for state funding to pay for repairs, but the first step is getting that information to Hawkins County Central Dispatch as quickly as possible.

Hawkins County Emergency Management Agency Director Gary Murrell spent much of Tuesday touring the county with a representative of TEMA (Tennessee Emergency Management Agency) assessing the damage to county roads and other assets.

The minimum amount of county damage required to be eligible for emergency state reimbursements for repairs is $214,000, and Murrell noted that Hawkins County is well beyond that figure.

But there is no minimum amount of damage that can be reimbursed by the state to private homeowners who suffered structural flood damage, assuming they get their information filed on time and the damage meets state criteria.

Anyone in Hawkins County who has experienced structural damage to their home caused by a flooded basement, sink holes or fallen trees is encouraged to contact Hawkins County Central Dispatch at (423) 272-7121 and report the damage.

Murrell and TEMA were meeting with County Mayor Jim Lee and Property Assessor Jeff Thacker to establish damage assessment teams for individual assistance (IA).

After a property owner files a damage report with Central Dispatch, an IA team will visit the structure and grade the damage as either affected, minor, major or destroyed.

"Then we work with the tax assessor to get an estimate of value to that damage," Murrell said. "There's a formula that they use to come up with that figure that we can turn in to the government to ask for. Whether we'll get that money or not, we don't know. But this is for people who don't have flood insurance because homeowners insurance doesn't cover anything that has happened in Hawkins County with these flooding events."

When a homeowner reports damage, Central Dispatch will contact EMA staff who will then schedule a time to visit the residence and assess the damage.

"You have a small window to get the information back in to the state," Murrell said.

It wasn't clear as of Tuesday if damage to land such as topsoil erosion will be covered, but Murrell said he was in the process of getting an answer from state soil conservation officials.

Property owners who experience erosion should report it anyway, just in case it is covered.

Murrell said standing water doesn't count as damage, so the public should be aware there won't be reimbursements for pumping out land or basements.