Smithfield won't qualify for state disaster funding

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SMITHFIELD -- Close to two dozen homes in Smithfield had some flooding damage after rain filled up canals and storm drains in early June. City leaders were hoping there was enough damage to qualify for state disaster funding, but they recently learned that funding was denied.

"Yeah, it was devastating to us," said Smithfield Mayor Chad Downs. "We were hoping and made a great effort to see if we couldn't find some relief for some of the families who had some extreme damage within their homes, but that avenue was a dead end."

In order for a city to get state disaster funding, they have to have significant damage done to the infrastructure from the disaster. Smithfield had none.

"It would have to be things like roads washed out, bridges damaged and those kinds of things," Downs explained.

Greg Despain, a Smithfield resident whose basement was flooded, said, "We were hit hard, but there are a lot of other people who were hit, and they're struggling to get it all back."

Despain let KSL News into his home the day after the canal behind his house spilled over. There were high water marks an inch from the ceiling. Furniture, appliances, and electronics were all underwater.

"I would have never thought that there could be that much water in there," Despain said. "It's going to be a process to get everything all back together."

Most homeowners also don't have flood insurance. "We're not even in a flood plain. We're not considered in a flood plain, and we're not considered for flood insurance," Despain said.

Instead, many residents are getting help from friends, neighbors, and even strangers. Neighbors helped remove furniture and sorted through items to see what could be salvaged.

The crew fixing the Despain's basement was donating their time. "I've lived here 66 years, on and off, and this is the worst storm I've ever seen," Downs said.

Smithfield received close to 6 inches of rain for the month of June. During the night of the biggest storm, hail knocked down trees limbs and other debris. That debris went into storm drains, clogging them to the point where rain water had nowhere to go.

City leaders are already planning for another big storm, just in case. They're changing the water-flow structure on some roads, digging more storm ditches and making sure storm drains -- especially on private land -- are cleaned out.

"As a city, we're doing what we can do to prevent this from happening again," Downs said.


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