Bloomingdale couple struggling with flooding issues

Matthew Lane • Jul 31, 2019 at 1:03 PM

BLOOMINGDALE — Mary Doll and her fiance, Shawn Coats, are dealing with an issue no homeowner ever wants to live with — a flooded basement.

It’s happened twice this year and it’s a situation the Bloomingdale couple would like to see resolved. The question is how? And will anyone be willing to help them?

During heavy rains, many homeowners in our region might find a little water in the basement. Get out a mop or turn on a dehumidifier and the problem is solved. For Mary and Shawn, we’re talking about knee-high water in their basement.

The sandbags piled around the door and the entrance to the basement haven’t made much of a difference. Frustration has quickly settled in.

“Our backyard looks like a river and our basement is underwater,” Doll said the day after a heavy rainstorm hit the Model City, dropping more than 2 inches of water in less than an hour. “We’ve got this situation going on and we’re trying to get it resolved, but nobody will help us.”

Doll and Coats bought a house in the Bloomingdale community (in Sullivan County) in the fall of 2018, and at the time all seemed well. But when a major rainstorm struck in February, the backyard and basement were quickly underwater.

The people the couple bought the house from never told them the property could flood. They’ve contacted Kingsport and Sullivan County officials and were told there was nothing they could do.

“I think they know they can do it. They just don’t want to do it,” Coats said. “They have the power. They just don’t want to do it.”

Doll believes the problem is caused by water coming onto her property from a nearby stormwater pipe. The pipe is more than 10 feet away from her property and runs underneath a nearby business. Water flows into a storm drain on Bloomingdale Road, goes underneath the business and eventually out the pipe.

“The pipe has been there for years and it bombards my yard and everybody else’s. It’s not right for any of us,” Doll said. “We get the bulk of everything and then it trickles on down.”

Ambre Torbett, the director of planning and codes with Sullivan County, said an inspector in her office and employees with the county highway department have visited the home and checked out the situation.

According to Sullivan County regulations, the drain pipe meets the distance requirements. In other words, it’s not too close to Mary and Shawn’s property.

Torbett said the ditches and culverts near the home are fine, noting that the county cannot do work on private property, nor act as a private engineer.

“Her yard is not level and has settled over the years. We try to inform folks that they always need to maintain at least a 5 percent slope away from their foundation and that all gutters drain out and away from the foundation,” Torbett said. “She will need to consult with an engineer and resolve her yard a bit. Those were our observations only.”

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