WSAZ INVESTIGATES: Man Trapped in Flooding Nightmare

By: Jennifer Rizzi Email
By: Jennifer Rizzi Email

LINCOLN COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- David Carter's desperate cries for help cover the side of his home in West Hamlin -- all painted there in bright red.

"I've been begging, I've been everywhere trying to get out of here," he said. "This place is making me sick."

Carter says his home on McClellan Highway has flooded five times since he bought it three years ago, with water nearly reaching the roof every time.

"I tell [people] where I live, and they say, 'Oh, you live in that place that floods all the time,' " he said. "It's embarrassing. And everyone around here knows."

But Carter says he didn't know when he moved there from Huntington, and didn't find out until it was too late.

A county flood map from 1987 depicts the house located in a flood zone. Carter says the house never should have been built, let alone sold.

"I'd like to see this place destroyed," he said.

What's more, he says the property he's forced to inhabit isn't even the property he bought. Carter's transaction documents list the property location as "Lot 10, Box 63A," which sits on top of a hill.

But Carter's home actually lies below the hill in the flood zone on "Box 64A," where he says all of his mail is delivered.

It's a discrepancy that cost him thousands of dollars in flood insurance, according to a letter from First American Title Insurance Company.

Carter believes the mix-up was a deliberate attempt to hide the flooding problem.

"I was deceived, and people don't care," he said. "I've begged them for help."

Lincoln County Floodplain Manager Guy Browning says he's looking at having the property bought out through National Flood Insurance Program.

"We'll do everything we can to try and give him some relief, but there's no guarantee because he bought the property," Browning said. "And the county can't police the every transaction to see if it's in a flood zone or not."

Carter says he feels trapped because he doesn't have the money to move and won't sell the home - now filled with black mold - to anyone else.

"I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy," he said.

County officials say their employees aren't responsible for reviewing transactions.

They say you should have your own attorney present to check details like box numbers and make sure documents are correct.

They also say you should do a thorough background check on your property.

Records show that Carter did a title search on his home, but officials say flooding history doesn't always show up on that kind of check.

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