More rain adds to flooding woes for Claiborne County

More rain adds to flooding woes for Claiborne County

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By ERICA ESTEP
6 News Reporter

TAZEWELL (WATE) - Heavy rain caused problems for East Tennessee residents on Labor Day, but for people in Claiborne County, the water was especially worrisome.

More than two months after flood waters caused widespread damage across the county, officials were still struggling Monday to find money for road repairs.

Flood waters rushed through Claiborne County on June 28. Since then officials have been working to get some assistance from the federal government.

They finally got a disaster declaration that makes them eligible for FEMA grants for damage to public property like roadways, but the money won't be available right away.

On Labor Day water was rushing through parts of Claiborne County again. Roads damaged in June's floods have made it difficult for even emergency crews to get around.

Baldwin Hill Road near Tazewell was covered Monday with ankle deep water and pieces of pavement were washing down a nearby creek.

Claiborne County sheriff's deputies said responding to calls have been a real struggle at times.

"Baldwin Hill is very, very dangerous," said Sgt. Eddie Hurley. "Regular passenger cars would have a very rough time making it through this road."

Standing water was also a problem on many Claiborne County roads. The main road into Cumberland Gap remained closed because a landslide is June continued to grow. It was threatening homes Monday.

"The big concern is the bank behind us," said Emergency Management Director David Breeding, standing just a few feet from the slide. "If the pressure goes all the way across and causes this to collapse, we're going to have to evacuate homes."

Claiborne County was approved for public disaster assistance, but it's on a reimbursement basis and could take a long time.

"Even though we had $3.3 million in damage in the county, the county has to come up with the money to fix it and then wait for the government to reimburse us," explained Breeding.

Another concern is FEMA running out of money. Breeding said he's already received word of projects around the country that have been put on hold while FEMA responds to damage from Hurricane Irene.

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