Flooding problems anew: 2.8 more inches of rain soak saturated county
Just two weeks after heavy rain fell for several days, leading up to a blanket of snow which covered much of the area, Blount County received an additional 2.82 inches of rain Wednesday.
This led to several flooding problems and road closures throughout the county, many of which were affected the week of Jan. 14.
Blount County Roads Superintendent Bill Dunlap reported at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday that Proffitt Springs Road in Louisville was barricaded with six inches of water over the road and Union Grove Road in Friendsville was one-laned at Allison’s Catfish Restaurant where tile could not handle the water flow.
Water was also up at Old Eagleton Road at the ball field as well as near Stephenson’s Tire on East Broadway Avenue.
Maryville Public Information Officer Pam Arnett reported that a portion of Foch Street was barricaded off and flashers were in place at Lincoln Road and McCammon, Atlantic and Pacific Avenues.
Alcoa Electric Supervisor Steve Biggars reported that isolated incidents of power outages were reported on East Millers Cove Road and Barb Hollow Road. Both outages were due to downed span wires due to downed trees.
The outages on East Millers Cove Road occurred at around 4 p.m. and affected five residences for about two hours before power was restored. The second incident on Barb Hollow Road happened around 6:20 p.m. after a tree fell down on a span wire and a trailer.
A total of 52 residences were affected during that outage and power was restored around 8 p.m.
What happened in the Townsend area was most reminiscent of what occurred the week of Jan. 14, when the Little River flooded. Townsend Volunteer Fire Department Chief Don Stallions said the river that day topped out at around 6,700 cubic feet per second.
At noon Wednesday the river was at around 500 cubic feet per second, but had risen to around 7,100 cubic feet per second by 7 p.m.
“The same places that flooded last time are flooding this time,” Stallions said. That included Old Walland Highway, Carrs Creek, Rudd Hollow and Hembree Hollow roads.
At 6:30 p.m., the American Red Cross opened an emergency shelter for those who might need to evacuate their homes due to flooding. That shelter was opened at Tuckaleechee United Methodist Church, 7322 Old Tuckaleechee Road, in Townsend. Stallions said Wednesday evening that to his knowledge, no one had yet evacuated their homes.
A total of 2.82 inches of rain had fallen in the area by 8 p.m. Wednesday as measured at McGhee Tyson Airport, according to the National Weather Service (NWS) at Morristown. But NWS meteorologist Sam Roberts said the heavy rains from two weeks ago has kept the ground heavily saturated and unable to soak up the latest amounts of rainfall.
“That’s a big part of it,” Roberts said. “I know two weeks ago it seems like it was spread out over several days and with it coming in such a short time today, those two things are really what caused (the flooding) today. But a lot of it has do with the ground saturation.”
Highway Superintendent Dunlap echoed that explanation.
‘Came quicker today’
“I think it came up quicker today just due to the fact the ground is so saturated,” Dunlap said. “(It’s) just the nature of the beast of this little valley. And Mother Nature has not been too kind to us this January. We average about 46, 47 inches (of rain) a year. We’ve had 12 inches already this January.”
According to NWS data, the area has received 12.6 inches of rain this year, which is 8.43 inches above normal.
Dunlap said with the NWS calling for a 60 percent chance of rain or snow Wednesday night, with a low near 31 degrees, the highway department was preparing for the possibility that some bridges may ice over during the night. The NWS forecast for today calls for a 10 percent chance of snow before 7 a.m., with a high hear 43 degrees.
Dunlap said he expects the water to recede by today, which will allow his department to reopen the roadways closed Wednesday.
The NWS also issued a hazardous weather outlook for Blount and surrounding counties for today through Tuesday. A weak, fast-moving system may bring some light snow, mainly to the northern half of East Tennessee and Southwestern Virginia tonight, with some minor snow accumulations possible in higher elevations.