Flood Damage Has One Morgan County Family Living In Tents

Rita Ballenger stands in front of her rental home that flooded July 4th. (Photo: Al Whitaker, WHNT News 19)

Rita Ballenger stands in front of her rental home that flooded July 4th. (Photo: Al Whitaker, WHNT News 19)

DANVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Two weeks ago much of the Tennessee Valley was still dealing with flash flooding. Morgan County was among the areas hardest hit by as much as 9 inches of rain in just a few hours. It was, of course, more than most drainage systems could handle and the waters flooded many parts of the valley. One Morgan County family is apparently still dealing with the effects of the storm.

Ballanger home on S. Danville Road on July 4, 2013. (Photo credit: Tiffeny Owens)

Ballanger home on S. Danville Road on July 4, 2013. (Photo credit: Tiffeny Owens)

Actually, there were several homes along South Danville Road in Morgan County that received some damage as a result of the flooding. Residents in the area tell us volunteer firefighters had to help several people from their homes, and then had to go back to rescue pets that otherwise might have drowned.

There was one house in particular on South Danville Road that several people photographed and sent us their pictures. We displayed it on our webpage. Well, the people who were living in that house are tonight living in tents. Rita Ballenger tells us her home is full of black mold and the floors are literally caving in underneath them. She says she does not know where to turn for help.

Ballenger says she stayed with relatives for a few days after the flood, but didn’t want to be a bother to anyone, so she came home. Home to a rental house that has flooded in the past, and flooded again on July 4th. A home filled with furniture and belongings unfit to use or even keep now because of the mud, the sewage and the mold. Home to a house literally unsafe to set foot in.

“You can see how high the water got, and the black mold’s building up there,” Ballenger explained to WHNT News 19 while showing us the interior of the house she can no longer live in. She and her family have set up tents in the front yard and that’s where they spend their nights. She says the Red Cross initially helped them with money for clothing and medicine, and there have been a couple of others to lend a hand. But she says she’s trapped in the old house, unable to even pay the deposits on another home if she could find one she could afford.

“Has there been anything in the house you’ve been able to save,” we asked?

“Uh, no sir. The water submerged over my couches and stuff. They have a real bad odor because the septic tank overflowed and it came back up through the commode and the contents from the septic tank floated all over everything I had in the house,” Ballenger explained. Even the old car she had was submerged and is no longer running.

Rita says she’d like to find a storage shed to set-up next to the house that she would live in until she could make repairs here. But walls and floors need to be replaced, and there’s the mold, it’s everywhere. What she needs is help getting into a different dwelling but she doesn’t know where to turn.

“To rent a place, it costs us a deposit, then it costs us like $275 to transfer lights, a hundred and twenty to do your water, and I just can’t afford it.”

So for now, home is a tent in the front yard of a rented house, surrounded by what little she had and has lost.

We spoke with the Morgan County Emergency Management Agency Thursday afternoon, but without a disaster declaration, they say there’s little they can do to help. We also contacted a statewide clearing house for assistance for those in need, but they have yet to call us back.

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