Roane County was one of the spots hardest hit by flood damage in our listening area. The damage estimates currently stand at around $6 million – and they’re not finished climbing yet.
After touring the damage Saturday, Roane County EMA Director Tim Suter said Roane County alone should get the state two thirds of the way to the state’s $9 million threshold to qualify for federal aid.
County road workers have been working practically nonstop for over a week to evaluate the damage and work toward repairing it. The repairs will undoubtedly put stress on the county’s budget.
Roane County Road Superintendent Dennis Ferguson said he’s paying workers overtime and hiring contractors to fix the roads, using funds that had been earmarked for future projects.
He added if he shuts down a road, it’s because there’s a problem with it. “It’s unsafe, or I wouldn’t shut it down,” Ferguson said.
Some of the roads he’s had to shut down have suffered collapsed asphalt, cliff sides sliding onto roadways, and mudslides. Ferguson said he doesn’t want to see anyone get hurt by driving on roads that are made unsafe either because the roads are undermined or because of the possibility of falling rocks from unstable land above the roads.
The three main roadways of concern for Ferguson right now are Riggs Chapel Road, Old Airport Road and Bowman Bend Road.
Repair estimates for fixing the roadways are approaching $4 million.
Suter said in addition to the $4 million for the roadway repairs, there’s at least another $2 million in flood damage to homes, vehicles and other property.
Ferguson said he expects it to take months to get the roads back into optimal condition.
But for now, even though the flood waters have receded, there’s still water flowing through the fallen earth… and if it freezes, it will expand, which could mean more landslides – another reason the county is working so diligently to resolve the problems as quickly as possible.