City Manager

Oak Hill's response to May floods is ongoing

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The days and weeks following the flood were challenging for local governments throughout Tennessee, and Oak Hill was no exception. Our Public Works crews and Safety Coordinator were out when the flooding began in an effort to block streets that were flooded and clear streets of fallen trees. This effort continued for several days as trees continued to fall due to the saturated ground.

Street repair

On Sunday, May 2, while the rain continued, staff began assessing damage. In the days that followed, staff rode every linear foot of public streets to assess items that needed repair and maintenance. This list eventually exceeded 350 items ranging from a road collapse to the clearing of ditches and culverts. This list was given to the City's Public Works contractor to begin addressing immediately. The larger items also formed the basis of projects to be submitted to FEMA for funding considerations.

Debris collection

The Public Works contractor began in the northern part of the City and has been working south. As they go through a particular area, they collect the yard debris (both regular and storm related) and address the items noted on the above-mentioned worksheet. The City's regularly contracted garbage provider is doing the collection of household debris.

Larger projects

Larger repair projects have been reviewed by the City's engineer and FEMA. Some of the projects were categorized as an emergency and assigned to a contractor to handle as soon as possible. Other items were assigned to the City's public works contractor under our existing agreement, while several are being given to other contractors who are competing for the work.

In working with FEMA, the City and our engineers have identified a number of locations where we feel that it will be better not just to put back the infrastructure as it existed, but to improve it. FEMA funding allows for this to be done, and we are working with them to achieve this goal. For smaller improvements the project can proceed rather quickly; however, for larger improvements or improvements in areas that did not receive damage, the process will be much lengthier.

We are also coordinating with FEMA on the possibility of purchasing severely damaged flooded properties.

Thanks for your patience

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the citizens of Oak Hill for your efforts during this challenging time. Your dedication to your community and patience with each other and the staff is commendable. In the immediate aftermath of the flood, I personally had the opportunity to speak with and meet numerous citizens from Lakemont to Caldwell and all parts in between, some of whom had lost their entire homes or a significant portion thereof. The attitude with which they faced the task that lay in front of them should serve as a example to everyone.

Additionally, if you experienced any type of delay in getting your needs met, I apologize for this. It was not for lack of effort on the part of your elected officials and City staff. We simply had more calls and citizens in need than we could reasonably address with the expediency that we would prefer. I am sure an occasional telephone message or reported incident fell through the cracks, and again for this I offer my apologies.

Our efforts continue

Please be aware that our efforts regarding the flooding have not ended. We are still spending a greater than normal amount of time out in the field as we address the repairs needed on the larger projects. A FEMA representative must make a site visit to each location that received damage in excess of $1,000. With a list of more than 25 such projects, that is an effort that will take several days.

If you are aware of damage to any of our roads, drainage structures, or bridges, I encourage you to notify us of them in the event that we have overlooked an issue. The timeframe that we have for reporting this to FEMA in order to get funding for the repairs is limited. Do not be surprised if you are just now beginning to notice damage to our roads. There are locations where the ground underneath the road has been shifting since the flooding, and it is just now making its way to the surface so that it can be seen. These are the items in which we particularly need your assistance.

I believe that through challenges we find opportunities to make situations better, and I look forward to working with you to make Oak Hill better through the challenges presented to us by the flood of 2010.

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