Flood-damaged South Pittsburg waits on state funding - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Flood-damaged South Pittsburg waits on state funding

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Flood waters took Jane Pellum's fence. Flood waters took Jane Pellum's fence.

Jane Pellam's father restored a century-old fence in front of the family's South Pittsburg home before he died.

Last Wednesday's flood took it, and a garage full of family memories.

"In one night it was gone," cried Jane, standing by the pile of bricks that remain.

"It would cost thousands of dollars probably to try to restore it, so I guess it's just time to say goodbye."

Wednesday afternoon representatives with the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency and the Tennessee Housing Development Agency took a bus tour of flood-ravaged South Pittsburg.

Jane's house was on their route.

"The houses that we pass, I know who lives there," said Mayor Jane Dawkins, who pointed out damage along the route, calling families by name.

Dawkins showed the group washed out bridges, damaged businesses, homes and roads.

Damage estimates are in the millions, but South Pittsburg will not likely qualify for federal assistance.

"I really don't know," said Dawkins, when asked if help is one the way. " This FEMA issue, it's an enormous threshold amount, it's like $8.5 million."

It seems the Tennessee Housing Development Agency may be South Pittsburg's only hope.

"Larger cities, larger disasters, they get funding from TEMA and FEMA," said Charmaine McNeilly.

"We saw a need where smaller communities didn't raise to the level where FEMA could help them, so we wanted to step in and meet that need," she explained.

McNeilly says she will take her findings back to Nashville to determine what financial support the agency's 'Rebuild and Recover' program can provide.

While it won't bring back what Jane Pellam has lost, she hopes it will help her hometown get back on its feet.

"Ours is sentimental loss," she told Channel 3, "but a lot of people are out of their homes and those people need that help."

How you can help

South Pittsburg is still desperately in need of volunteers to assist homeowners, specifically elderly residents.

The town is also asking for box fans for residents who are with out air conditioning.

To help, call the emergency response call center at 423-486-2151.

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