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Flash floods cause major damage

More than 50 homes in Washington County were lost during a flood Aug. 5.
Mayor Dan Eldridge said the Cash Hollow/Austin Springs area and downtown Johnson City were two areas of the county most affected by the storm. Additional areas receiving major damage were Deacon Creek, Arnold and Dry Creek roads.
“There has been no loss of life or injuries to the public,” Eldridge said, though three EMS workers were hurt while taking part in swift water rescues.
A total of 16 county residents had to be rescued, with 12 of them in the Dry Creek area.
On Monday, Gov. Bill Haslam declared a state of emergency in Tennessee, labeling Washington County a Level 3 crisis.
Employees from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, EMS, Highway Department and Johnson City Police Department were out in full force all night, according to Eldridge.
“We also asked for help from the Sullivan County EMS, and Kingsport sent 30 first responders,” he said.
A major bridge was washed out on Rock House Road, and several roads were still blocked off due to water as of Monday afternoon. FEMA representatives arrived in the county Sunday night to monitor the situation.
“No one is in imminent danger, but there is a lot (more) rain expected,” Eldridge said.
An emergency shelter has been set up at Lamar School, and American Red Cross workers are going door-to-door conducting a needs assessment of the affected residents.
Eldridge said three teams are on the ground conducting a damage assessment. An assessment for the south end of the county was expected to be completed by the end of Monday.
According to Eldridge, FEMA has set a threshold of $8.5 million in uninsured losses for the State of Tennessee, which includes a $450,000 minimum of uninsured losses for Washington County. However, if the state doesn’t qualify at the $8.5 million level, no assistance will be provided to the county, he said.
Washington County will have far more than $450,000 in road damage alone, Eldridge said, but with only Washington, Carter and Unicoi counties affected by the flash floods, reaching the $8.5 million may be unlikely.