South Pittsburg residents to get money for flood recovery - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

South Pittsburg residents to get money for flood recovery

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It's been almost a month since flash flooding devastated the Marion County town of South Pittsburg.  It did millions of dollars in damage to homes, schools, businesses and roads.

The city was denied federal and state emergency funds because the total amount of damage did not reach the required level.

South Pittsburg leaders have been working tirelessly to find financial help for their cash-strapped and storm-ravaged town. Thursday, the Tennessee Housing Development Agency presented a grant to go specifically to homeowners and renters struggling to recover.

"It's been four weeks now since the flood and we're four weeks better," South Pittsburg Mayor Jane Dawkins said.

South Pittsburg residents learned just how powerful water can be on July 10. One of the worst floods in the town's history happened in just a matter of hours, knocking some homes off their foundations, and leaving thick layers of mold and mud behind. Most were not covered by flood insurance.

"Probably 90 % of the area that was hit, was not in the flood plane," Mayor Dawkins said.

Several government agencies took a bus tour to see the damage up close. It's in the millions but not the $8.5M minimum required for federal aide.

"That's a big deal in a small place but it's not a big enough event to trigger a lot of assistance from FEMA or sometimes even TEMA," Tennessee Housing Development Agency Executive Director Ralph Perrey said.

But, thanks to a new program called Rebuild and Recover, the Tennessee Housing Development Agency is able to pitch in some money.

"Proud to announce that we will be providing a grant of $300,000," Perrey said.

The $300,000 is to be used at Mayor Dawkins' discretion to help low to moderate income homeowners and renters recover. That likely includes apartments for the disabled and elderly that were hit.

"We're willing to be the first money in the deal and hope that encourages other resources to come in," Perrey said.

"It does mean a lot. People have joked and said Jane's been dialing for the dollars, but there's some truth to that," Mayor Dawkins said.

The grant does require a 50% match, which means $150,000 from the city. However, the THDA says they assess the match by including things like donations, and volunteer hours. They say because of all the people who've helped over the last month, they consider the match met.
Again, this grant is only for housing and can't be used to help businesses or roads. Mayor Dawkins says they're still discovering more damaged homes this week.

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