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Residents of Green Valley Lane speak out on flooding

Claim Elizabethton Airport is the cause

Beautiful homes, beautiful surroundings…and flooding?
For the residents of Green Valley Lane, some of whom have lived in the subdivision for over 50 years, flooding has become a menace and threat to properties in recent years.
The reason? Residents of this subdivision say their neighbor, the Elizabethton Municipal Airport, holds fault due to two extensions that have affected the area’s drainage systems.
Five residents of this neighborhood have decided to share their experiences.
  • Shirley Harris has lived on Green Valley Lane since 2003 but says this issue has been affecting her for the past seven years. Harris said the issues began for her after her late husband died.
    She described that the year prior to his death, the couple aided fellow neighbor, Everett Smith, in pumping water out of his basement.
    Harris said flooding has caused issues in her yard, in particular preventing her from mowing sections of her yard for a couple of months at a time.
    “It’s been a mess,” she said. “I had a little bit of water under my house this year, not like my neighbors did, just wet and a little bit in the crawl space. So it’s beginning to move up there too.”
  • Terry Dalton has lived in the subdivision for over 50 years, purchasing his home when it was new. Dalton described the water issues that have arisen since the airport’s two extensions.
    “The water has gotten down into my yard between my yard and the airport’s fence, and it gets in my yard toward the back of my lot,” he explained. “I had two organic gardens and I couldn’t tend to those because the water was standing on them. Two years ago I also had to put in new fill lines because the water level was over the top of the tank.”
    Dalton detailed expenses he has had to invest in his home due to the flooding, including a new sump pump.
    According to Dalton, vegetation around his home has also been impacted. His two dogwood trees, butterfly bush, etc. have been killed or
    damaged by the flooding as well. Additionally, weed killers are sprayed along the fence owned by the airport. Dalton worries about the runoff
    from this, which also kills his grass, and the potential impact on his health.

  • Everett Smith moved into the area 12 and a half years ago.
“There has been water standing at least a foot deep in one part of my yard,” he said. “My problem mainly is I can’t mow my yard. I truly believe it’s because of the runway. I was able to mow every year until this year.”
Smith said in the previous years he lived there it was never as bad it has gotten. He was also thankful the flooding has not hurt things like his septic tank as of now.
“We just need to get something done here to get this drained out of here,” he said.
  • Mary Ellen Simerly moved to the neighborhood in 1973. She said that while she had water issues over the years, it was nothing like it has been recently.
“You’d have a little bit of water gather in the back yard and in a couple of days it would be gone, but the past two years it’s even damaged my heat pump,” she said.
Simerly said that in early March her son put a sump pump under her house to remove the water. She said they pumped water until around May.
“I never dreamed I had water under my house, but when I got up that morning and had no heat, I realized the heat pump wasn’t working,” she said.
Luckily, Simerly had a fireplace and small heaters lent to her by neighbors as well until she could have water pumped out from under her house and fix the heat pump.
“Now that the coronavirus has started, officials keep saying we are in this together. I think the airport, us as neighbors, even the city and the county, we all need to get together, we’re in this together, and we need to solve it together,” she said.
  • Dave Honeycutt has lived on Green Valley Lane for over 50 years. He said he never had problems with water until this spring. Honeycutt’s problems include his septic system not working (this had to be pumped three times and new field lines were installed), his heat pump shutting down due to excess water in the crawl space, etc. With repairs to these damages brought on by the excess water, like pumping and new installations, as well as adding French ditches, Honeycutt said it has cost him in excess of $7,000.
In addition to extensions, the airport purchased a home at the end of the subdivision that was beside Dalton’s home. The garbage from this was also left for an extended period of time.
Green Valley Lane residents have reached out to various officials for help in this issue.
Mark Blevins, one of the three commissioners for the district, said that he is aware of the problem and is hoping to have a state engineer (more information to come at the next commission meeting) come out to see what can be done to aid the residents.
“It’s a mess for those poor people and they didn’t ask for this. We’re going to get it fixed for them,” he said.
Dan Cogan, manager of the airport, had no comment and said they had no information on the matter.

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