An 88-year-old woman whose property on Lincoln Road has been plagued by floods for more than 35 years said the flooding earlier this month is one of the worst she has experienced.
Swift running water covered about three-fourths of her land, drawing closer by the hour to her home and an historic old mill cottage. Water was being pumped out of her basement.
Wynona Gibson stood near the road taking pictures of water overtaking the property and watched nervously until she could no longer go without oxygen. While breathing with the aid of an oxygen tank, she recalled the frustration she has had over the years with trying to get the flooding problem corrected.
She is distressed by the red tape she’s encountered over the years while trying to get assistance from conflicted federal, state and county government agencies. She said she has contacted the Tennessee Department of Transportation about the deteriorating condition of the small bridge on Lincoln Road at the edge of her property, since it is more than 50 years old and cannot handle the rush of water during heavy rain.
Once, she said, the Environmental Protection Agency would not permit her son to clear logs and other debris obstructing the flow under the bridge causing the water to back up into her yard.
She remembers when a county road superintendent more than 20 years ago filled in a ditch on Smith Mill Road which worsened the problem. A culvert was later installed but didn’t solve the problem. She asked if another ditch could be dug, but it never was done, she said, adding that recently cleared land along Smith Mill Road has allowed for an even greater volume of water to cascade into the stream and then into the yard.
One year, flooding water covered three cars, filled her basement to a depth of more than four feet, ruined her appliances and all of her art supplies. “There was a strong vortex in the basement,” she said, adding that a full freezer of meat in the basement was ruined and a litter of Lab puppies drown in a kennel in the yard.
When the water recedes, she is faced with picking up cans, bottles, branches, old diapers and other debris. “I take great pride in my yard,” she said.
An avid gardner, many of her plantings have been washed away, and she’s watched about 10 feet of her property disappear into the creek.
“It’s cost thousands of dollars,” she said of the damage.