Teachers supported after flood damage


Two Jasper City Schools teachers are not being forgotten after their home was flooded during Easter Sunday storms.

Stewart and Candace Ochs have been living with family this week as many of the floors and walls inside their home have been removed by Servpro to repair water damage that occurred Sunday night.

Stewart is a 7th grade math teacher at Jasper Jr. High and Candace is an ESL teacher at Maddox Intermediate. The newlyweds just bought their single story home in Jasper a year and a half ago, which is now uninhabitable.

A runoff ditch near the couple’s home filled with debris Sunday, and it didn’t take long for rainwater to fill the couple’s home.

“It elevated the water in our backyard, and it started running into out back door. The water got up so high that it eventually started coming through the walls and up through the foundation,” Stewart said. “Five rooms in our home either had to have walls cut out or floors completely replaced.”

The kitchen, two bathrooms and a hallway were the only areas of the home spared from flood damage.

“It’s not a total loss, so we’re really fortunate about that,” Stewart said.

To make matters worse, while Servpro was working on Wednesday, they found old tile flooring up under another floor. The tile flooring is suspect for asbestos and has had to been sent off for testing. If the results are positive, the couple will have to hire a special company to remove the tile, which will mean an additional expense.

Servpro’s work is expected to cost around $3,500, and to get new flooring and wall sections replaced will cost at least $6,000.

While the Ochs’ home was insured, flood insurance wasn’t included in the plan.

“Our home wasn’t in a floodplain, so it never came up as an option,” Candace said. “Even if we had wanted to get a flood policy, they couldn’t offer it to us because our home is not in a floodplain.”

When one of Stewart’s students, Anley Payne, learned of her teacher’s hardship, she started a GoFundMe page to help cover the cost of cleaning and home repairs. As of Wednesday afternoon, nearly $3,500 had been donated by the Jasper community and other Walker Countians.

Stewart said when he learned Anley created the GoFundMe page he was speechless. He and Candace were both emotional when talking about the support they have received from people they don’t even know and people they haven’t talked to in a long time.

“It’s amazing how much the community has done for us based off of a little girl’s idea,” Stewart said. “It’s amazing what Anley has done for our family.”

He added, “We didn’t lose everything. We still have a roof, I still have my family, and we still have this community that I’m so thankful to be a part of.”

As teachers, Candace said they always try to instill good character and a sense of community with their students, and she said it’s incredible to see that teaching in action.

“To see that change that we try to create for our students impact us in return, there are no words for that,” she said.

To support the Ochs’ during this time, donations can be made at https://www.gofundme.com/f/mr-and-mrs-ochs?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet.