Several Grifton homeowners plan to sue town for repeated flood damage


GRIFTON, N.C. (WNCT) – Several homeowners in Grifton said they plan to sue the town if nothing is done to improve drainage to reduce flood problems.

It’s happening along a ditch near the outskirts of the town. Residents who live there said they’ve approached the town multiple times to raise concerns over how the ditch drains.

A few years ago, the town did spend some money to improve drainage, but residents who live in the area said it wasn’t enough.

Doug Coley said his house has flooded five times in the last 10 years, causing well over $100,000 worth of damage.

“There’s no need to move stuff back in here and lose it again,” he said.

Coley said what makes things even more frustrating is the fact the area isn’t designated as a flood zone, despite consistent flooding.

“The town has said it’s a drainage board issue, the drainage board said it doesn’t affect the county, it affects the town,” he said.

So where does the responsibility to designate an area a flood zone lie?

WNCT reached out to Grifton Commissioner Mike Coles, who said town officials, of course, feel for those impacted by the floods. Coles lives in the same area as Coley, and said he thought the problem had been resolved.

He also said their hands were tied as to how much they could do.

“Based upon the knowledge that I have, no. We really can’t go in and designate that,” Coles said.

Others who live in the area said the town lied to them before moving. Angela Gay moved to her current home right after Hurricane Floyd hit because she wanted to live somewhere that wasn’t flood prone.

“We asked even with the ditch back there, and they said no, the ditch usually does not cause any problems,” Gay said.

However, since moving to her home in 1999, she has experienced four floods.

“At one point the insurance company dropped us because of having to keep filing claims,” she said.

Coley, along with some of his neighbors, have been waiting for their homes to be bought out by FEMA since 2013, after repeated floods made them eligible for a special hazard mitigation program.

However, he said since they aren’t in a designated flood zone, they keep getting pushed to the back of the line.

Coles told WNCT that if residents brought their concerns before the board of commissioners, they would do all they could to help them and reduce flooding potential.

Coley said at least six homeowners have already said they would move forward with a lawsuit if nothing is done.

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