One week ago this evening, LaFollette and eastern Campbell County was experiencing the worst flash flooding in living memory. There were dramatic evacuations, water rescues, a local LUB worker Dayne Deavours would, emerge as a life-saving hero and damages were being incurred that would devastate many local families, businesses and churches.
A week and one massive community effort later – an effort featuring good-hearted citizens, dedicated Campbell County Road Dept workers, Campbell County Sanitation Dept workers, City of LaFollette workers, LUB workers, a group of college students, emergency relief workers from other counties, civic organizations, and teams from TEMA – a considerable amount of clean-up and some of the repair work has started in the hard hit areas.
The road is still long and very expensive for those effected. The cost estimates so far for the Campbell County Road Dept come in at 4.5 million dollars with that number likely to grow according to figures provided to County Mayor E.L. Morton from Road Superintendent Ron Dilbeck. Major problems are in the Long Hollow, Sugar Hollow and Demory areas but other areas saw problems as well. High Knob/Fox Den Lane saw damages as well as Pleasant Ridge. The Glade Springs area saw road and ditch damage. There was bridge and culvert damage as well as multiple mudslides on Ivydale Road. Road underpinning will be the major repair need, as underpinning was washed away in many of these locations, leaving the pavement very fragile. Also culvert repair and clean out will be a key need. The 4.5 million dollar figure is likely to climb.
The county also incurred damages at the recycling center. Water approximately 18 inches deep flooded the center. The plan is to remove sheet rock up to the water line, remove the floor tile, deep clean with mold preventative and repair those damages. The county also lost approximately 25 percent of the recyclable cardboard that was stored on-site. Mayor Morton estimated total damages to the center at $225,000 dollars.
LaFollette Middle School incurred damages to several classrooms and the cafeteria. Director of Schools Jennifer Fields told The Volunteer Times that the estimated cost of repairs there is $25,200 dollars. The hope is for these costs to be covered by insurance but how much of them that would be covered isn’t yet known.
Damages done to county citizens and City of LaFollette citizens as well as the City of LaFollette government have started to be calculated by TEMA Regional Supervisor Todd Jones. The initial assessment comes in at 6.4 million dollars in damages with that number likely to rise as assessments continue according to LaFollette City Administrator Jimmy Jeffries.
According to Mayor Morton, in order for FEMA aid to help the governmental agencies, the total loss to infrastructure must reach 9 million dollars. However, all private citizens who have submitted for FEMA aid will be decided on a case by case basis.
The Volunteer Times will release updated numbers as we receive them from the various agencies.