Elderly Couple's Home Flooded-- Who's Responsible? - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

8/12/04-Smith County

Elderly Couple's Home Flooded-- Who's Responsible?

A couple in Northeast Smith County came home to see water, dirt and grass pouring into their house.

"It's terrible, isn't it? And it smells," Mary Johnson, the homeowner, said.

Carpet, antique furniture and walls soaked in water. Tile floors covered with sand and dirt. The Johnsons are trying to save everything they can.

"We tried to pick up what we could, but we just couldn't have had nowhere to put it 'cause everywhere was water," Mary said.

She and Johnnie Johnson say they've lived in their home for more than three decades and this is the first time their home has flooded. Yesterday just happened to be Mary's birthday.

"It feels terrible," she said. "It feels bad. You just feel lost. You don't have nothing."

They say the Rose Bowl Raceway across the street is to blame. The Johnsons say there was dirt piled a few feet high yesterday, but it all washed downhill, clogged up the ditches and then flooded their home.

"It's their responsibility," Johnnie said.

"And I think we should get some help from this," Mary said.

The Texas Department of Transportation says it will come out next week to clean out the ditches. However, according to state law, the Johnsons are responsible for their own flood damage because it was a one-time, natural occurrence. Without insurance coverage, it's estimated to cost them several thousand dollars.

Since this is the first time the Johnsons' home has been flooded by dirt from the Rose Bowl Raceway, the raceway is not responsible for the damages to their home. If there were repeated instances of flooding, the Johnsons would have a better case to take to court.

Julie Tam, reporting.

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