Creek washed bank away under our house : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

We own property which has a creek running through it. Our house sits only feet away from the creek somewhat above it. It was built here over 50 yrs. ago. This morning my husband went behind the house for something and found that the creek had literally taken away the whole bank during the night. There ius not even room enough to walk between the house and this fallen area. The creek is now almost under our house. Are we responsible for trying to repair this or will some state agency help us? From the looks of it we'd never be able to afford repairs. We'd have to move. We appreciate anyones comments and thank you.

-- Kathy Linger (, February 10, 2001



I am so sorry to hear about your house ! It's very frightening to think of loosing your home. My first question is:is the house safe from any more under washing? You are so fortunate that it didn't completely wash away the house as you slept! Do you have homeowners insurance? Even if the policy doesn't cover flood damage your agent might be able to point you in the right direction for help from another source. I have heard of gov't sponsored programs for victims in your situation. Here in California we have a housing program called HUD. If you have such an agency in your state I would start with them. If not I would start going through the white pages under United States Govt. or under your particular state govt. heading. There must be someone one in one of the offices listed that can point you in the right direction. Best of luck to you and please post how you are doing on the forum. I am so sorry for what has happened to you.

-- cindy palmer (, February 10, 2001.

Kathy, I would get in touch with the County agency first, they might be about to respond the fastest. It happened to my friend about 10 years ago, down the creek from me. It was bad yesterday and today here in Michigan. Very scary what the water can do. Anyway, the county here in Michigan had a bunch of concrete from tearing up a road and dumped a bunch of it next to her house as a sea wall. If you are like us, you probably didn't realize you have to pay extra for flood insurance and don't have any. If the county won't help, go to the state level.

-- diane (, February 10, 2001.

I'm so sorry to hear of your troubles .I was feeling bad for just a flooded basement .I hope you find help soon .Most of all make sure you are safe.

-- Patty {NY State} (, February 10, 2001.

Kathy Could a track hoe reroute the creek. So sorry . Let us know if you find a solution. Jay NC

-- jay vance (, February 10, 2001.


Where do you live? Do you have flood insurance? What kind of stream is this? I'm sorry to say that you may be up the proverbial creek without an oar. If you don't have flood insurance, there's probably no government agency that's going to help you. With environmental regulations being what they are, doing work in the stream is more of a political problem than a practical one. Is this a fish bearing stream? If so, I'm sure there are endless regulations on what time of year work can be done and design of the relocated stream bed. Obviously, what you want is to be able to move the stream channel away from the house. With heavy spring flows right around the corner, work would have to be done fast. It would require heavy equipment to redig the channel, place large rocks where the original bank was, and refill the area that was washed away. In our state, permitting for this kind of work can take a year or more and requires the services of a whole team of consultants and contractors. But, check with your county land use department. They may have a system for dealing with emergency situations, but you'll most likely have to foot the bill.

-- Skip Walton (, February 10, 2001.

Kathy, First off don't take this answer personal, you all ready have enough problems, and I know you didn't build the house.

Why is it that people want to live by creeks, rivers or oceans? Why do they want to build homes on the sides of mountains?, only to have the rains wash their homes down. I really don't get it. Surely living next to these places your asking for trouble. It irritates me that people want to live in the most haserdous of places and then, what makes it worse, they want me to help foot the bill so they can continue to live the same way.

-- hillbilly (, February 11, 2001.

I have a similar problem on my farm. This general area is somewhat unique in the state in that our soil has a lot of what is called chert - small rocks. When Blue Creek gets high, these wash down and form gravel bars, which divert the stream against one bank, uncutting it, then diverting the stream flow further and further into my fields.

I resolve it, I had to go through the Army Corp of Engineers since Blue Creek is considered to be 'a navigational waterway of the U.S.', even though for most of of the year one would have a hard time running a canoe down it. I now have a Corp permit to dredge gravel out of Blue Creek. Some who have worked with them think the Crop are s-o-bs, but I found them most cooperative, probably because I sought a compromise, not my way or nothing. It was the TN DNR which objected the strongest to putting equipment into the creek. They worried about damaging fish beds and oil dripping from the equipment.

The first time I have to have work done, a trackhoe came in and transferred the gravel to trucks, who spread it on my farm roads. Second time I just had a big dozer come in who sloped the gravel on the cut side and then pushed up a large pile on the inside bank, which a local guy with a backhoe service and the county highway department eventually hauled away.

I sort of have a working agreement with the Corp on the amount of latitude they allow me. In fact, they have brought people by to show them one solution to this problem.

Whatever your stream situation is, I think the Corp is the one to start with. Once a solution is agreed to, they will coordinate it with all of the other agencies who need to be involved. Ask right away for their publication: Streambank Protection Guidelines for Landowners and Local Governments. They should have an office in your state's capital.

It sounds like you may have to build a seawall and then backfill in behind it, which won't be cheap. Might be cheaper to have your house moved away from the stream.

Please keep us informed on your progress.

-- Ken S. in WC TN (, February 11, 2001.

My father was a civil engineer in flood control on the lower Mississippi River his whole professional career. I grew up watching what moving water can do, even small streams, let alone the ole Mis'sippi. When my husband and I bought our first house, it was on the highest bit of ground I could find and away from streams. We've been married almost 27 years and are in our fifth house. I won't even look at property in a flood plain and my husband teases me about it. He says we may blow away but we will never wash away.

The sad thing about your situation is that fill in soil, banks, etc., are usually a stopgap measure and need to be repeated, as Ken mentioned his working relationship with the Corps of Engineers. Check with your insurance agent then prepare to move the house to higher ground if possible or to abandon it if not.

I have a friend in a similar situation. A subdivision is being built above her property. The ground is rolling but not excessively steep but with all the paving going in, the run off is "running off" right across her land, overloading a lake and washing out the dam for it. They have contacted the county board which says nothing can be done as the builders are within the law. In the meantime, it's cutting her farm in half with no apparent recourse. Give me a hilltop any time. Anytime.

-- marilyn (, February 11, 2001.

hillbilly, she already said the house has been there 50 years. The creek we live near has NEVER in the history of my neighbor whose family homesteaded here under the original land grant, risen so high or so fast as it did Friday. There is no place that is exempt from natural disasters of some kind and isn't it really about being willing to help others in time of need?? Kathy, please be kind enough to let us know what happens. I will keep you in my prayers.

-- diane (, February 11, 2001.

If you are having a bad winter, has there been a lot of other damage in the area and is there talk by local gov't to declare a disaster area? If so, you may be able to get disaster relief money.

Several years ago we had a terrible rain storm that lasted for days. A bridge, near one of our orchards colapsed into the river and diverted the water onto our property tearing out soil and trees. That wasn't the only damage in the area either. It was declared a disaster area and we were able to apply for disaster relief money to replace the trees. The county took care of fixing the bridge and surrounding loss of soil to the property.

Check with county gov't office they may be able to advise you further. Keep us posted.

-- jennifer (, February 11, 2001.

Diane, I believe I said "I know you didn't build the house." (since it's been there for 50 years)

You are right about no place being exempt from diasters, however there are places that are high risk, and living along a creek or river is one of them. I'm glad that your creek has never crossed it's boundries, and let's hope it never will. But if you would read between the lines you would also figure out that Kathy's place hasn't had a diaster of this magnitude in 50 years. It probably never happened before they moved in either, at least acording to their neighbors....

I would like to say that, yes it's about helping others but don't help me because I'm foolish. Help the truly needy, I don't believe anyone in this country is truley needy. Even our poor are rich in the eyes of the people in third world countrys. If less of our time, and less of our monies would be spent on our selfish self's, if we would wake up and crawl away from our own meek little worlds, we then might understand the word...helping.

-- hillbilly (, February 12, 2001.

Thank you hillbilly for the clarification. I could not agree with you more about the "truly needy". I have witnessed it first hand in Haiti. I just feel that the population centers of the world are around rivers and we just can't get away from it now, unless of course people in those safe places like you would want all of us to move to where you are. Look at the maps-scary thought to me to try and relocate all those people. Here in Michigan most all the cities are along rivers, although you might not recognize them as rivers any more when they go through the cities. Oh well, in a perfect world we in this country would not be living our high lives off the backs of our brothers and sisters in the third world countries, by just try to get people to give up what they have so that others could have a little more. God Bless

-- diane (, February 12, 2001.

oops, ment to type but just try to get them to give up a litte

-- diane (, February 12, 2001.

I give up!!! no typing skills here!! - little, there, I will stop.

-- diane (, February 12, 2001.

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