'Devastation': Ooltewah residents dealing with contaminated water 2 weeks after flood


    'Devastation' - Ooltewah residents dealing with contaminated water 2 weeks after flood (Image: WTVC)

    UPDATE (Friday evening):

    TEMA spokesman Dean Flener provided an update on flooding and contaminated water on Hunter Road in Ooltewah.

    Flener says TEMA has been in contact with Hamilton County EMA Director Chris Adams, who told them the Flagstone subdivision is in a basin and that there are a couple of sinkholes that aren't accepting water, either due to being clogged or becayse of high water level.

    According to Flener, pumping water onto private property would risk endangering other homes.

    "As in the case of the Flagstone subdivision, there is either nowhere to pump the water over a short distance because you risk flooding others, or there is no way to pump the water far enough from the impacted area to guarantee the water won’t come back," Flener said in an email response.

    Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation (TDEC) spokesperson Kim Schofinski also says TDEC staff collected water samples for the presence of bacteria at the Flagstone subdivision Friday. Schofinski says the results won't be available for at least 24 hours.

    Schofinski advises that residents should avoid contact with standing flood water.

    If homeowners have concerns about their septic systems, they should call the Hamilton County Building Inspection Department at 423-209-7860.

    Depend on us to update you as we learn more.

    PREVIOUSLY (Thursday):

    Even as more rain is in the forecast, some Ooltewah residents are still dealing with flooding from the last round.

    That flooding includes more than one million gallons of water near Hunter Road that county officials say is contaminated with fecal matter.

    A handful of neighbors there say several feet of dirty water has been sitting on their properties for two weeks.

    "Devastation, catastrophe almost," Bill Baker said.

    Bill has lived in his home for more than 30 years.

    "It's never been this bad."

    Outside, part of his heat and air unit remains underwater.

    Inside, he's using space heaters to stay warm.

    He estimates he has up to $12,000 worth of damage.

    "We are pretty stressed," Baker said.

    Amy Maxwell with Hamilton County Emergency Services says they have started the process of applying for grants.

    She says February's rain caused about $1.7 million in damage.

    She said TEMA submitted a request Thursday to have a geologist and a hydrologist come look at the damage.

    Residents asked why the county has not helped them.

    Maxwell said it's privately owned property, and since the water is contaminated, it can't just be pumped out. It has to be stored and transported.

    "We've done our homework, now we're just waiting on federal response," Maxwell said.

    "We just have to take it as it comes. I told my wife I said 'these are hard times' but with our faith we feel like the Lord will see us through it," Baker said.

    State Rep. Mike Carter is meeting with residents Friday morning to hear their concerns and see what can be done to help.

    Hamilton County Emergency Services says they have begun the process of applying for flooding grants.

    Spokeswoman Amy Maxwell says last month's rain did about $1.7 million in damage.

    Maxwell says the surveying process has been difficult since the damage is sporadic, and not in one concentrated area.

    She says they submitted their proposal to TEMA last week. It will then get sent to Federal Emergency Management.

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