East TN business facing hundreds of thousands in repairs following February flooding

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SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Amy Haas is hoping there is another solution to restore power at her grandmother’s campground in Sevierville, other than the one presented by the state.

A letter sent by the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office to the Ripplin’ Waters Campground called for all electrical components to be replaced, following flooding earlier this month. The cost to replace 155 pedestals, the boxes that make up the components needed to connect RVs to power, is likely hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“It breaks our hearts. It breaks my grandmother’s heart. She’s stressed. She’s depressed. This is our life right here. This is everything to us. This is how we live and just to watch it, kind of like, be abandoned right now, is sad. It’s depressing,” Haas said.

When the water started rising, Haas said, she began relocating the 17 families to higher ground. They’d experienced a record flood the year before, along with the rest of our region. After that event, Haas said, electricians washed out the pedestals, and their power was restored. This time, that won’t be enough.

This comes after more than $200,000 in investment to the campground. Haas explained, her grandmother had already upgraded utilities for 74 RV lots. The first phase was completed in October 2019, and included 50 units, at a price tag of about $140,000. Phase two included another 24 pedestals, cost $70,000 more, and was completed roughly one week before the flooding Feb. 7.

The 17 families are still parked at the campground, at the top of the hill, without sewer or water hookups.

“It hurts my feelings a lot because they depend on us. This is their home as they say, just like it is our home…I feel bad that they have to sit up there knowing that we have this space down here. They don’t like to be crunched up on people and I hate that for them,” she said.

Shane Woods is staying at the campground until his home is completed in Sevierville. He and his family have always liked camping at the spot. He’s sticking it out because these accommodations are out of Amy’s control.

“Amy has been really great through the whole thing, as far as discounted rates…she’s done everything she can to help us out, which is why we’re staying. Otherwise, it would be easy just to pack up and go somewhere else.”

Amy hopes another solution to their problem becomes available, such as raising the pedestals three or four feet, rather than replacing all 155 units.

“The replacement of electrical receptacles and switches may be necessary in homes and businesses after flooding occurs to ensure occupant safety. If an electrical inspector determines that floodwaters rose to a level that affected electrical equipment, the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) advises that the property owner work with a licensed electrician to determine what components need to be replaced or repaired to ensure safe operation of electrical equipment. Homeowners insurance may help cover the cost of replacing appliances and other personal belongings and property that has been damaged.”

SPOKESPERSON FOR STATE FIRE MARSHAL’S OFFICE

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