Clay County benefits from funds made available to ease flood damage burden

RECEIVING HELP-Several officials were on hand for a check presentation to help pay for repairs done to counteract flood damage suffered in the Modoc Hollow Road area of Clay County in the spring of 2010. Pictured form left are: Dimple Geisling-Hull York Lakeland RC&D, Kelly Keisling-38th District Representative, James Stephens-Clay County Soil Conservation chairman, Ernest Garrison-Clay County Highway Commissioner, Andrzej Kaslikowski-Clay County Soil Conservationist, Dale Reagan-Clay County Mayor, Jennette Finch-Clay County Soil Conservation District, Mae Beavers-Stae Senator District 17, Darrell Beason-USDA,NRCS for Clay and Jackson counties. (HORIZON photo by Bob Weaver)

CLAY COUNTY-Last May, large parts of middle Tennessee, including areas here, experienced what has been described as a thousand-year flood event. The torrential rains resulted in 21 deaths in Tennessee and property damage estimates are more than $1.5 billion.

Much of the media attention has been focused on the Nashville area, but outlying counties also experienced extensive damage. In fact, Jackson and Clay Counties have had three 100-year floods this year, in May, July, and August.

On May 1, 2010, Brandie and Andy Smith, Clay County residents who have lived in their house for more than seven years saw firsthand how much damage flood waters can do.

“This was the worst flooding we’ve ever seen,” said Brandie Smith. “Debris got trapped beneath the bridge and the water slowly crept out of the banks.

“As the water surrounded the house, we decided we had better leave. Even though the water was just a little more than ankle deep, I couldn’t believe how swiftly it was moving and how much force it had. It would almost knock you down.”

The Clay County Road Department responded quickly after the flood waters receded and began removing the debris. Clay County is receiving financial assistance through the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service Emergency Watershed Fund (EWP).

Ernest Garrison, who has served as Clay County Road Superintendent for more than 20 years said, “This is the worst flooding we’ve had. We lost one bridge and several others were damaged.”

Clay, Jackson, and Macon Counties will receive additional funding thanks to a grant Hull-York Lakeland RC&D applied for from the TN Emergency Response Fund through the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee according to Kathy Daugherty, Hull-York Lakeland RC&D Coordinator.

“We received $5,000 each for Clay, Jackson and Macon County,” Daugherty said.

“The grant funds from the Hull-York Lakeland RC&D (HYL RC&D) will supplement the matching funds counties are required to provide under EWP,” said Phillip Dixon, NRCS District Conservationist in Clay and Jackson County. “EWP will assist these counties in repairing infrastructure and performing debris removal in creeks and waterways. Removing debris along the creeks and waterways will prevent the debris from clogging bridges during the next heavy rain.”

Clay  County recently completed its projects under the EWP and held a check presentation ceremony, Thursday, January 27, 2011 to receive their $5,000 grant funds from representatives of USDA-NRCS, Hull-York Lakeland RC&D, Clay and Jackson County Soil Conservation Districts, local government officials and state legislators who are instrumental in obtaining emergency declaration and funds.

Severe flooding of this Modock Road location required repairs involving several man-hours of labor, tons of rock, and equipment to move and place it at a cost of approxomately $12,000.