Leader Blues

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

TOP STORY >> Flooded resident demands answers

Beebe Windwood resident Anita Seymore holds the flood certificate to her home showing the house was not in a flood zone and flood insurance wasn’t needed.

By JEFFREY SMITH
Leader staff writer

While Beebe residents were unwrapping Christmas presents, many people in the Windwood subdivision were ripping out carpets and base boards while trying to salvage furniture from the swampy floodwater.

By Monday, mounds of soggy carpet and recliners were piled by the driveways of homes on Tori Lane and Birchwood Drive. Dumpsters were brought in for residents to throw away debris and water-logged home furnishings.

Arnold Felbermayer lives at 1039 Tori Lane with his wife, Shelly, and son, Drew.

“We got really, really close, within an inch of water coming into the house around Thanksgiving. This time I had five inches of water. I consider myself one of the lucky ones. It could have been a lot worse. It did not go over the electrical outlets,” Felbermayer said.

His son Drew said, “Every six or seven seconds there was a thud at the front door. It was the water knocking.”

Felbermayer said Tamara Jenkins of the Office of Emergency Management of White County came by his home on Sunday. The Red Cross asked if they needed food, clothing or immediate shelter.

He said, “I give kudos to the city. They did all they could to help. They informed us what to do and who to call.

“Everybody in the neighborhood needs to push the city government to work with the railroad and solve the (flooding) problem,” he said.

“It’s a matter of how long people are going to put up with it. Personally, I don’t want to move. I love my house, this place and Beebe a lot.”

Felbermayer moved to Beebe from North Little Rock four years ago. He said the move was great for his family.

“If it happens again, we will move, probably out of town,” he said.

Felbermayer did not have flood insurance. The family didn’t know when they bought their house in 2005 that the area was in a flood plain.

Anita Seymore of 1011 Tori Lane was standing outside talking with her husband and neighbor Shane Smith on Monday.

“We feel someone should be held accountable for selling us these houses under false pretenses,” she said.

Some residents were required to have flood insurance when they bought their houses, while other neighbors were told they were not in the flood zone.

“I have my flood certificate showing ‘property is not in special flood area.’

“I feel basically ripped off, because when we bought in ‘05 we were lied to,” Seymore said.

“We do not have heat because the (HVAC) unit was underwater,” she said. “Now we’re having to use space heaters which is especially dangerous with two kids.”

Shane Smith, the homeowner at 1009 Tori Lane, said, “There are a lot of things to worry about, but you should not have to worry about a flood, especially on Christmas.

“My then-wife and I bought the house in 2000. The area wasn’t developed like it is now. A lot of these houses were built in the last five years,” Smith said.

He said there’s always been a question whether it was in a flood zone or not.

“On the paperwork there was a question, ‘Is this property in a flood zone? The box was marked no,” Smith said.

“We refinanced in ’06 with Arkansas Federal Credit Union. They required us to carry flood insurance, because they told us we’re indeed in a flood zone. Thankfully, I got it. I am waiting for the adjuster.”

On Christmas Eve, the floodwater was up to 10 inches in his house and 16 inches in the garage. Around 10:30 p.m. he started unplugging appliances. By 11 p.m. the Beebe Fire Department came and rescued him. Emergency crews brought a row boat right up to the garage door. He left with a small suitcase and a few personal items, with his cat in a pet carrier and his dog in his arms.

“They were unhappy, but at that point I was getting them out of there,” he said.
Smith is staying with his parents during the cleanup process.

He said the flood brought his neighbors closer together. They talk with each other about who should be at the homes and what their vehicles look like. The Beebe Police Department was patrolling the neighborhood this week. Smith said they had a lot of “passers-by.”

“This has been a humbling experience,” Smith said.