FEMA Lays Out New Flood Zones in East TN

By: Kim Bedford
By: Kim Bedford

Clinton, Anderson County (WVLT) - FEMA is targeting one East Tennessee community in its move to zone high-risk flood areas, and your neighborhood could be next.

FEMA is telling nearly 70 families in Clinton they need flood insurance now.

Volunteer TV's Kim Bedford spoke with upset residents in the Mariner Point subdivision.

The neighborhood is part of a nation-wide map modernization program by FEMA. The agency is updating its floodplain maps and starting at the top of the alphabet with Anderson County.

Mariner Point sits along Clinch River, but residents say it's never been a flood risk.

"Flood insurance?!," Mariner Point resident Larry Minton questions the decision.

"I think it's ridiculous. I think it's a way for FEMA to get some money from people," Will Hutchison and his wife Sophia have lived here in Mariner Point along Clinch River for eight years now.

"For the whole neighborhood. I think it's very frustrating because it's sprung on everyone just very abruptly," Sophia says.

Residents say FEMA never told them their property was changed to a high-risk flood zone.

"We just discovered it when someone went to refinance their home," says Homeowners' Association President Frank Bealer.

Now FEMA is requiring anyone with a mortgage to pay annual flood insurance.

"They will give you coverage up to $250,000 and our house is worth more than that, so we'd end up having to buy on top of that," says Minton.

Larry Minton says he would have to pay almost $5,000 a year for flood insurance alone. "If you keep your house 20 years, that's a lot of money."

"There's been no flooding issues in this area. There's been no real explanation of why we are being re-zoned," Mariner Point's Home Owner Association President Frank Bealer says some are already putting their homes up for sale. "This is a great community. It's been growing and the property values have increased dramatically over the past few years and we don't want to see that change."

"If I came in here to look for a house and it's in a flood plain, first off, I wouldn't want to buy," says Minton.

That's why all 69 families are fighting FEMA together.

"We will be appealing, the entire community, on a case by case basis. Each lot will have to individually file the paperwork," says Bealer.

"It's going to go into Knox, into Roane County, all the way to Chattanooga and probably beyond," Will Hutchison says.

"I just hope we win the appeal," Minton says.

The community will be filing the paperwork within the next month and should hear from FEMA within 90-days once they get it.

FEMA says it's reviewing the Clinton's map zoning and will get back with us Tuesday.

Clinton city manager, Steve Jones, tells WVLT city council is looking at a resolution to support the property owners.

Residents have to pay two to four-hundred dollars just to get a survey of their land done for the appeal.


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