Flood victim needs help to 'Raise the House' - WSMV News 4

Flood victim needs help to 'Raise the House'

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An aerial photo shows homes on Ewingdale Drive. One home, second from right, has not been elevated. (WSMV) An aerial photo shows homes on Ewingdale Drive. One home, second from right, has not been elevated. (WSMV)
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    The bay window on Kevin Hartley's house was at ground level before he had to raise it seven feet to make renovations to the home. (WSMV)The bay window on Kevin Hartley's house was at ground level before he had to raise it seven feet to make renovations to the home. (WSMV)

    Renovating a house always seems to cost more and take longer than expected. One Nashville couple found an expensive surprise. They bought a house that flooded and then found out in order to renovate, they either would have to tear it down or raise it up.

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    Renovating a house always seems to cost more and take longer than expected. One Nashville couple found an expensive surprise. They bought a house that flooded and then found out in order to renovate, they either would have to tear it down or raise it up.

    More >>
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

If it rains for several hours, Rhiannon Chambers moves to higher ground, one of her neighbors’ houses.

Chamber’s house on Ewingdale Drive in Nashville has flooded five times in the last 10 years.

She reached out to the News 4 I-Team after working for nearly a year to find out if her house can be elevated so it’s out of the floodwaters. Most of her neighbors’ homes have been lifted and a new foundation added underneath.

"It's incredibly frustrating that there is no help in any direction," Chambers said.

"Why am I the only short house on the street? Why can't we do something?" she asked.

Ewingdale Drive floods a lot. It’s located along a creek. Evacuations aren’t uncommon.

The May 2010 flood was so bad that afterward many homeowners got help from the government to lift their houses.

 Chambers' house wasn't elevated after the 2010 flood; she doesn't know why. Metro records show a renovation permit was applied for in 2011, but then the permit was canceled.

Chambers bought the house in 2015. Since then, there has been a total of some $20,000 in damages caused by flooding two years in a row.

"I had two floods, the summer of 2016 and the summer of 2017," she said.

Her flood insurance covered the damages, which included replacing her heat and air system and all the duct work, twice.

"This being my third one, you're talking about $12,000 just in HVACs," Chambers said.

She's looking for a long-term solution.

There's a federal program that provides up to $30,000 to elevate flood-prone houses.

It's part of the national flood insurance program. It’s called Increased Cost of Compliance Coverage.

Chambers started asking about the process in September 2017. She contacted the Mayor's Office, her Metro Council representative, FEMA and TEMA.

She’s been working most recently with Metro Stormwater. Her emails document correspondence between her and the Metro employee assigned to handle the matter in September.

"I've heard back, but it's never with a solution or a time frame. It's always, 'we're working on it, we're not ignoring you,’" Chambers said.

The News 4 I-Team asked Metro Stormwater about the delay and the status of the case.

We were able to get an answer, though maybe not the one Chambers wants to hear.

Metro Stormwater sent a statement saying they don't have the documentation they need to show the house received enough damage to qualify to be raised.

The process entails Metro writing a letter to the flood insurance program stating a house has had “substantial damage,” with the cost of repairs totaling at least 50 percent of the value of the house.

The amount of the damage can be a combination of a series of claims over the years.

Metro Stormwater spokesperson Sonia Allman said that they have been “unable to obtain the permit documentation required to accurately indicate the amount of damage to the structure.”

Chambers had forwarded insurance claims showing how much the flood insurance paid out for the damages, but Allman’s letter to News4 said those aren’t sufficient, since insurance claims can be for “appliances, blinds, shutters, clothes, food freezers or debris removal, which wouldn’t be counted towards substantial damage" of a structure.

Chambers said she didn’t realize Metro needed additional documents.

“We would very much like to write a substantial damage letter so that it can be elevated and will do so if and when we are provided the proper documentation required,” Allman told News4.

Chambers told News4 she feels “stuck” and said that selling isn’t an option.

“Who would buy a house that’s flooded five times in 10 years?” said Chambers.

Nor can she hire someone to do the work if her flood insurance won’t pay.

"I can't afford to pay $30,000 to raise the house myself," Chambers said.

Copyright 2018 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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