By Daniel Karell
GEORGETOWN — Four weeks after torrential floods in Ripley took the lives of three people, the Ohio Valley Long Term Recovery Committee met to discuss how local agencies and organization were helping meet citizen’s needs.
One citizen in attendance at the weekly meeting on Aug. 10 was David Atkerson, who lives on Grant Street in Georgetown. Atkerson agreed to have his name released from a confidentiality agreement signed by all attendees of the meeting.
Atkerson’s property was one of 44 that suffered some sort of damage due to the floods. Of the 44 properties damaged, three properties, all mobile homes, were listed as destroyed according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s guidelines. Atkerson’s home suffered what the guidelines termed “minor” damage, despite his basement fully flooding and local state agencies recording 24 inches of water on his main floor.
Atkerson, who didn’t have flood insurance for his home, detailed many of the difficulties he and his family have faced in the days following the floods.
“Our house has been completely treated,” Atkerson said. “We’ve ripped walls out, the kitchen’s completely gutted, and we don’t even have a kitchen sink at this point. It was required to get rid of the mold, and within hours, we had mold forming.”
Adams Brown Community Action Partnership has helped Atkerson’s family acquire a new hot water heater, and the Red Cross provided a new stove, but at the meeting, Atkerson said that he had been unable to get in touch with the Georgetown Fire Department to help him get the remaining six inches of water out of his basement.
Atkerson said that due to the location of his house in between two hills, and with a storm drain from across the street bringing water onto his property, he could potentially flood again.
“The possibility of having water from two hills coming down and water that’s being pumped from across the street to us, we could flood every time it rains, potentially,” Atkerson said.
Jim Dinkel, chair of the Tri-State COAD, reccomended that any of Atkerson’s appliances in the future be placed on the main floor or higher.
Later in the meeting, Atkerson brought up an issue he, and likely others, have faced in contacting the correct people who can provide help. Atkerson said that he had been in touch with ABCAP’s general phone number, but he was told by them that they couldn’t provide any help, despite director Al Norris pledging that his organization would help flood victims.
The message never made it down the channels, though, and it took some time before Atkerson got in touch with the right people.
ABCAP said that they had been working with at least five families who were affected by the floods.
“Some of the stuff is going to be ongoing, because they’re not just devastated financially this month, they’re not going to be able to recooperate financially next month,” Norris said.
The OVLTRC later announced that they were looking for a part-time case manager. They acquired a $2,500 grant the Lutheran Disaster Response, and are looking for someone to work 20-hours per week for three months, at $12 per hour.
Red Cross representative Eli Allen said that he had a couple of potential candidates in mind.
Lastly, Dinkel passed out the OVLTRC’s by-laws and began looking to elect a treasurer, secretary, chair, and vice chair. Beth Nevel, Brown County director of emergency services, agreed to serve as secretary, and both Nevel and Brown County Commissioner Daryll Gray recommended that Sue McKinley serve as the vice-chair. That left the committee to ask for Dinkel to serve as the chair of the committee, to which he accepted.
“I don’t think we’re going to find someone who has the understanding and the objectivity that it takes to lead an organization like this that keeps us on track for unmet needs,” Nevel said of Dinkel.
Nevel said that Dinkel was also a good candidate for the position because he lives outside of the county. Dinkel countered, somewhat jokingly, that he is a distant cousin of former U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant.
Reach Daniel Karell at 937-378-6161. Follow him on Twitter @GNDKarell