Federal and state emergency management officials verifying flood damage in the Shoals

At least 250 homes in the Shoals have flood damage.

Posted: Mar. 12, 2019 4:08 PM
Updated: Mar. 12, 2019 8:20 PM

In Colbert County, emergency management officials believe there could be more than $1 million in damage, and that's just to roadways. That's not including the damage to people's homes.

In Colbert and Lauderdale counties, there are at least 250 homes with flood damage. On Tuesday, federal and state emergency management officials started verifying flood damage throughout the Shoals.

State EMA officials said the process will take weeks, and they will send the information off with the hope that President Trump will declare a disaster declaration for February's flooding.

"Here, a flood is different, and it just takes a little bit of time to get all the information together, because it comes in and leaves," said Alabama EMA field operations director, Ricky Adams. "We have to go out and look at every single residence we can to determine this major damage."

Together, all North Alabama counties must meet a damage threshold of $7.2 million. Adams said once they verify all of the damage, it will go to the state headquarters where they will consult with Governor Kay Ivey, who has not toured the flood damage in the Shoals.

"We will prepare a letter that goes to the governor and when the governor makes that decision, she will contact the president," said Adams.

The president must declare a disaster declaration in order for federal funds to flow in and fix all the flood damage. This process will take weeks and Alabama EMA, along with FEMA, will be in town a few days. Adams said their goal is to verify the damage reports.

"The citizens down the road, if there is a declaration, will have an opportunity to file a claim, and that's their opportunity to talk about their damages," said Adams.

As people in Nathan Estates rip out dry wall and try to rebuild, they said seeing the state and federal government in town is a good sign.

"Any kind of help would be appreciated. Everyday, we're getting help from our neighbors and friends and family, but any kind of financial help should be good, because materials are expensive," said T.C. Hallmark, whose home was damaged by floodwaters.

Many homeowners don’t have flood insurance and are hoping federal funds can help them rebuild. Public assistance funds will go to help municipalities recover from flood damage, and individual assistance will go to help homeowners. None of these options are opened up unless there is a disaster declaration from the president.

Over in Sheffield, Riverfront Park sustained about $40,000 in damage when the Tennessee River rose to an almost historic crest. The floodwaters have gone down, but the current knocked the park's boat pier off its supports with some of the boat ramps still underwater. The currents also broke some of the playground equipment, and the City of Sheffield said that will have to be repaired.

"It was heartbreaking for a lot of us," said Trisha Dean, who takes her kids down to the park. "We came down to the barricade, and the officers showed the girls just how strong the current was and that it could wipe you away."

Over in Tuscumbia, Spring Park sustained a lot of damage too. All of the electrical equipment, like the carousel, roller coaster and train, will need repairs. They are holding off on fixing the park for now so that state and federal officials can see the damage for themselves.

Tuscumbia mayor, Kerry Underwood, said they don't have an exact cost of damage to Spring Park yet, but he knows the park does not have flood insurance.

"We know the park is important, so we're gonna fix it. If we can get state and federal funding to fix that then we will, but otherwise, the park will be made whole again," said Underwood.

Underwood said he and other mayors hope the president will declare a disaster declaration for the Shoals, so they can get federal money to make repairs. City officials will have to apply for public assistance in fixing all of the flood damage to places like Spring and Riverfront parks.

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