Erosion threatens homes in South Nashville as neighbors look for solutions

Posted at 10:10 PM, Jul 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-13 23:42:34-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — People in one South Nashville neighborhood want answers after erosion has wiped out their backyards and threatened their homes.

Several homes on Village Way in the Villages of Brentwood neighborhood are positioned on a slope. After the flooding in March, homeowners watched as land behind their homes washed away.

"You see this kind of stuff in a horror movie," said Althea Penix, who lives on Village Way. "That’s how I feel. It's very scary. I’m worried I will walk out and have big holes here, and my backyard will be in the ditch."

Penix estimated about 12 feet of her backyard washed away in the flooding. Just a few doors down, one of her neighbors, Karen Berson is experiencing similiar issues.

"The slope has collapsed, but the trees are still standing," said Berson. "It looks like the grand canyon down there."

Berson said the damage isn't limited to homes on Village Way. Others in the neighborhood have experienced sinkholes, foundation issues, and flooding and mold in their homes. She said the problem has been ongoing for decades, but became worse after the March floods.

Berson said neighbors have reached out to Governor Bill Lee, FEMA, insurance companies, their HOA, Mayor John Cooper and their Metro Council Member for help, but no one is claiming responsibility for the damage. Neighbors have also learned their insurance doesn't cover the damage. Berson said building a retaining wall behind her home could cost as much as $500,000, and that is more than the value of her house.

Some in the neighborhood have begun going door to door to educate people about the extent of the problem and encourage neighbors to take action. Wendy Morrison is often spotted walking the street in a yellow t-shirt and handing out fliers.

"A lot of people have told me their stories," said Morrison. "They say, 'oh I have that problem,' or 'I spent $20,000 on that problem.'"

Neighbors said they would like the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to come out and determine what is causing the problem, and how to fix it.

However, Metro Council Member Robert Nash, who represents the district, said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can't help because the creek is private property owned by the Homeowners Association. For the same reason, Metro government can't help either. He recommended the HOA hire an engineer to fix the problem. He said neighbors may need to hire an attorney, as well.

Neighbors claimed their HOA was told by government that the creek is part of a protected wetlands, and the organization can't touch it either. They said someone needs to take responsibility for the issue.

"We don’t want to have solutions thrown at this because so far none of them are making sense, and all the price tags are going to the homeowners," said Morrison.

"At this point it feels like we are hitting a brick wall," said Penix. "We are going to keep pressing on and keep fighting for our community."