Some residents on Carl Smith Road in Hampton have been forced from their homes for the third time in a month due to Laurel Fork spilling over its banks and flooding the road and nearby homes.
David Hampton lays the blame with the Carter County Commission, which in January 2012 denied a request by the county planner to apply for a grant to fix the flooding problem. The county mayor this week said it is not a county problem, meaning the county is not obligated to fix it.
Flooding along Laurel Fork Creek has long been a problem, especially when a heavy or prolonged rain occurs. It has become a repetitive problem with worsening results.
In the deadly January flood of 1998, Laurel Creek like many other small tributaries of Doe River, overflowed its banks and ran down Swimming Pool Road, causing damage to several properties.
After the 1998 flood, the county received a grant from the Army Corps of Engineers to take rock from the creek and build up the banks at low spots about a quarter mile upstream.
Hampton said the action only moved the problem to his property. As a result of the rock wall, or berm, constructed upstream, the creek now curves away from its own streambed, straight at his property and then curves back to the old channel.
The property owner has been trying since 2004 to have the problem corrected.
While much discussion takes place about who is to blame and whose responsibility it is to fix the problem, nothing is being done and the problem is only getting bigger. People who live nearby are growing weary from having to leave their homes every time a heavy rain occurs.
When people are hurting, we all become responsible for alleviating the pain. Also, government bears some responsibility. Floods are the most frequent and costly natural disasters in terms of human hardship and economic loss.
Regardless of how large or small the disaster, local government is responsible for preparedness, response, recover and mitigation.
The question at this point should not be who is to blame, but how do we fix the problem? When government is working like it should, that will be the right response.
If funds can be obtained to alleviate the problem, then local government has a moral responsibility to apply for them. Finger pointing never ever solved a problem. If anything, it ensures that the problem remains.
There has to be a way to solve this flooding problem. Like grown men and women should, it’s time to sit down and figure it out before the problem becomes greater and more costly.