Fundraising campaign started to help Hanceville family devastated by weekend flooding

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Amanda Brown (Courtesy of GoFundMe)

HANCEVILLE, Ala. – On Sunday, the east Hanceville home of Linda Brown and daughter Amanda Brown on the corner of Edward Street and East Railroad Avenue was devastated by street flooding which sent water into their house, drowning a family pet and forcing the family to relocate to a local hotel.

On Monday, Linda Brown posted to social media:

“Our house flooded, the worst ever. We lost our Dachshund, Mutt. He drowned. Yes it was that bad. The two little ones made it, they jumped up on Amanda’s bed. The water came up to the bottom of the mattresses. We couldn’t find Mutt. Later, they found him under the kitchen table, he had gotten trapped. The force of the water turned furniture over, even the refrigerator is lying on its back.

“Thanks to the police force and fire people and Mayor Kenneth Nail, Red Cross, all who were there, my brother, Harold, from Arab, who stayed with us and helped till after midnight, and he has to work today. Our pastor, Paul Campbell, and Dewayne Waters from our church, Sandy Waters for arranging for a hotel room for us and our fur babies last night, and last, but certainly not least, Jeri JJ Entrekin, our dear friend who came and brought us a plate and helped in all kinds of ways we could never repay. Thanks to officer Anthony Austin who was there and came back to take us to the hotel later or we wouldn’t have been able to get there. Our van wont crank. Hopefully it will later today. We are thankful and grateful.

“We have a difficult road ahead but we cannot give up. We cannot abandon our house. We have faith God will help us through, as He always has. We must have a place to live. Prayers are appreciated. Thanks for the ones sent up so far. We love all of you.”

GoFundMe campaign launched

On Monday, family friend Grace Potter launched a campaign on the crowdfunding site GoFundMe for the Browns.  She talked to The Tribune about the family, whose adult daughter is handicapped and requires special care:

“I don’t think people understand, when you have a handicapped child, daughter- even though Amanda’s not little, she’s been handicapped all her life- and it’s just hard.  They’re in a hotel, you know, and it’s just real hard on them.  She doesn’t have her van, her handicapped van; I don’t even know how they’re getting in and out and getting her around.

“So that’s why I just want to try to get the word out.  If anybody needs help, they need help.”

What happened Sunday

Hanceville Mayor Kenneth Nail told The Tribune that, when he received a phone call about rising waters Sunday afternoon, some of the places around town that usually give early warning of street flooding still appeared to be in good shape.  But when he turned up Alabama Highway 91 and began heading east toward the neighborhood where he lives only a few houses away from Brown, the ditches quickly told a different story. 

Nail related: “It was out of its banks!  And then, the further up 91 I get, and the last house on the left before I get to the underpass, it’s about 3 or 4 feet from the guy’s house!  When I turned down East Railroad and got down there, I said, ‘Oh, my God, this is just crazy!’”

With no police or fire personnel on scene, Nail drove right up into the Browns’ front yard in his 4-wheel-drive pickup and attempted to reach the porch to get the residents out, until the water began running in the truck and causing the engine to falter.  Emergency responders arrived during that time and took over the evacuation.

The entire area around East Railroad Avenue and Edward Street is low ground, described by Nail as a “bowl.”  Although water rose and several community residents have reported seeing high water in streets and yards around east Hanceville, and small amounts of water getting into basements, the Browns’ home was the worst affected.

The house has been affected by rising waters on numerous occasions, and was even sandbagged ahead of a recent storm.  Due to the amount of water this time, though, even those sandbags likely would not have helped.

Seeking a solution

Nail called the state Emergency Management Agency (EMA) director Monday morning and shared, “He took my call, and I just told him, ‘Look, we need some help, and I’d appreciate it if you’d come up here.’  And he said, ‘Well, either I will, or I’ll send one of my people.’”

A few minutes later, the mayor received a call from EMA Area Coordinator Ricky Little, saying, according to Nail, “’Mayor, I was watching the reports come in last night about your flooding.’  I said, ‘Yeah.’  ‘But also the director said I know that Hanceville’s popped up several times in this area with problems.’  I said, ‘Yes, Sir.’

“So they assured me that they’re going to try to do something to help us.  Now, I don’t know what that’s going to mean.”

Several possibilities for mitigating the issues at the Brown home are on the table, up to and including the possibility of a state grant, if available and approved, to purchase the property.

Nail is not only seeking a fix for the Brown home, but long-term solutions to serve the needs of residents in low-lying areas on both sides of the railroad in the eastern part of the city.

Get involved!

To contribute to the fund to help the Browns, visit the GoFundMe campaign page http://bit.ly/2Iy847z.

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W.C. Mann

craig@cullmantribune.com