SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris declared a state of emergency Friday afternoon because of recent flash flooding that inundated Germantown and other areas of the county this week.
“In light of the destructive flash flooding in Shelby County, I have determined that in order to protect the public health, safety, and welfare of our citizens a state of emergency must be declared,” Harris said in a tweet.
On June 7, heavy rain and flooding caused a major headache for some residents across the Mid-South, but especially for some living in Germantown. The city told WREG up to 30 homes and dozens of cars, including a fire engine and ambulance, were damaged or destroyed after more than 8 inches of rain fell.
Several people even reported having up to three feet of water inside their homes.
Germantown approved a disaster declaration for the city with a $250,000 flood relief fund, and the Shelby County Commission on Thursday voted to amend the budget to add an additional $100,000 to help deal with the June 7 flash flooding.
Officials hope this state of emergency will go to the state and potentially federal level, garnering as much relief and resources as possible.
In light of the destructive flash flooding in Shelby County, I have determined that in order to protect the public health, safety, and welfare of our citizens a state of emergency must be declared. pic.twitter.com/6nprff3tIG
— Mayor Lee Harris (@MayorLeeHarris) June 21, 2019
In the two weeks since the flood, sidewalks and yards have been mostly cleaned up, but some homes are left like skeletons, empty, bare and devoid of life.
“There’s definitely a long road ahead,” said John Selberg, Germantown fire chief. “A lot of work, a lot of expense. Right now we’re talking about repairing the structures, we’re not even talking about all of the contents that they lost.”
Harris’ declaration of a local state of emergency comes because most of the damaged homes are uninsured.
“Most of the residents in these homes have lost all of their personal items, they’ve lost clothes, they’ve lost photos, they’ve lost virtually everything,” Shelby County Commissioner Mark Billingsley said. “The water was so high that people’s refrigerators were floating.
Germantown is not considered a flash flooding risk area, so homeowners are left picking up the pieces by themselves — they’re relying on a helping hands to help rebuild.
“It has to come from your neighbors, from your friends, from those people that don’t even know you that come in from out of the area. I’m gonna help you do the work that you can’t do yourself,” Billingsley said.
Germantown officials estimate it will be months before some homes are habitable again, and there are some items and memories that will never be replaced. But they have been inspired by the support, and by the community as a whole.
“The heart of Germantown is here in our residents, and it’s been powerful to see,” Billingsley said.