Federal help possible for Tennessee flood victims

SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. - Many homes and business hit by Wednesday's flood waters are not in flood prone areas and did not have flood insurance, leaving the property owners paying for expensive repairs out of pocket -- repairs that can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

But there is some good news. Help may be on the way, courtesy of the federal government.

"There's a level that the state must hit, and each county hits within that level also," said Sullivan County Emergency Management Director Jim Bean

Bean told News 5 that level is right around $8.6 million for Tennessee and around $500,000 in damage for Sullivan County before federal grant money will kick in.

Bean said they've found 45 homes and 63 businesses with water damage and the big question is not when, but if the money will come from the government.

"It's really hard to say right now. A lot of it's going to hinge on the damage the businesses have, "said Bean.

There are other groups surveying the damage to see if they can help, including the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team from Charlotte, North Carolina. "Usually we like somewhere between 100 to 200 homes to bring in a whole team but we will do smaller areas if we have a lot of uninsured people that need help," said Al New with the group.

One of those under-insured is the Cavalry Worship Center in Bloomingdale. "We'd be tickled to death to get this place back to the way it was. We'd be happy to have any kind of help we can to get it straightened back out," said Pastor Larry Beldsoe.

Bean said the best thing for people with property damage to do is to call the Sullivan County EMA to make sure their home or business has been counted in damage assessment.

Sullivan County can be reached at 423-323-6912.

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