Rain causes flooding, closes schools

Update: Anderson County Schools will be closed Friday, February 7th due to the worsening road conditions.

Update: Mahoney Road in Oliver Springs is now closed due to flooding.

Steady and, at times, heavy rainfall has inundated East Tennessee, impacting roads and closing schools.

Because of the combination of rain, high water and the potential for even more flooding, schools in Anderson, Morgan, Roane and Union counties closed for the day. Campbell County schools were closed on Thursday as well due to flooding concerns, and will remain closed on Friday as the system deals with a wave of illness among students and staff. All campuses of Roane State Community College were closed on Thursday as well.

Floodprone areas are certainly underwater today, and in addition to the usual spots, high water was reported to be blocking part of Briceville Highway near Hopkins Road and Andy’s Ridge, Lake City Highway in front of the convenience center and Hickory Valley Road at Foster.

Thursday morning, the Anderson County Sheriff’s Departmenr released a list of flooded roadways.

“Anderson County is under a Flood Warning until later this afternoon as rain continues to fall.  Below are a list of roads that have been reported to have standing water or are currently closed.  Please note, this list may not cover all roads that are currently closed.  We work closely with the Highway Department and other local agencies to keep abreast of the current conditions.  Please do not take any risks and give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination.

  • Rogers Street
  • Granite Road
  • Batley Road @ Batley Baptist
  • Sulphur Springs Road
  • Lake City Hwy @ Hunley Dabney Ln
  • Brushy Valley Road
  • Pumpkin Hollow Road
  • Lambin Road
  • Old Lake City Hwy @ Wiley Cemetery
  • Hickory Valley Road right past Foster Rd
  • Briceville Hwy (Slatestone to Andys Ridge is impassable)
  • West of 552 Mountain Road is impassable
  • McKamey Lane
  • Hillvale @ Alley Road
  • Offutt Road @ the bridge
  • Carroll Hollow @ Fleetwood Lane
  • Hackworth Lane @ Pine Ridge Lane
  • Marlow Circle @ Red Hills Farm
  • Lovely Bluff Road Again, please note this list may not contain every road in hazardous condition.”

The announcement was also shared on the ACSD Facebook page, and citizens were encouraged to add any road closures that were not listed.

As early as Wednesday night, authorities in Oliver Springs reported that several areas had already been inundated with water, including Arrowhead Park, Windrock and Airport Roads and Midway Drive, and on Thursday morning, closed part of East Tri County Boulevard due to water across the roadway. Oliver Springs Police say that traffic is being re-routed around Mahoney Road and that Old Batley is not an option due to a mudslide. Officials urged everyone to “avoid all flood zones and back roads until the water levels fall.”

East Tri-County Boulevard in Oliver Springs covered by water February 6th, 2020 (Photo by OSPD)

In Clinton, crews could be seen clearing the drainage ditches along Spring Street. A section of Hillcrest Drive, from Sulphur Springs Road to Brandywine that runs in front of Clinton High School, was also closed due to the creek there spilling over its banks.

In Rocky Top, police closed Bolin Road at Chestnut Avenue and two locations on Jacksboro Avenue, at its intersections with First Street and Meadow Street.

In Oak Ridge, the intersection of Jefferson Avenue and North Jefferson Circle was closed due to flooding and traffic was down to one lane on the Turnpike between Imperium Drive and Southwood Lane.

The Jellico Rescue Squad said on its Facebook page that as of this morning, there were no passable roads in the Newcomb community, and that Highway 25W between White Oak and Jellico was also flooded.

The Campbell County Sheriff’s Office also reported roads closed due to flooding, including Bruce Gap Road behind Cove Lake State Park.

Morgan County Sheriff Wayne Potter urged everyone to stay off the roads and Wartburg radio station WECO reported that the Emory River was threatening homes in the Oakdale community.

Roane County officials also reported numerous roads closed due to flooding and that part of Upper Guettner Road had washed away Wednesday evening.

The National Weather Service in Morristown has placed the area under a Flood Warning through 3 pm Thursday and a Flash Flood Watch is in effect for the area through Friday morning at around 1 am.

The NWS forecasts “continued moderate to heavy rainfall with the potential for flooding today through early Friday morning.”

The NWS also says that “a slow-moving frontal system will bring continued rain through today (2/6/20). Flooding will continue throughout the day with additional rainfall of an inch or more. As the rain tracks over the same areas more flooding of both urban and rural areas near streams and rivers is likely.”

Flood Safety Information (from the National Weather Service)

* Monitor the NOAA Weather Radio, or your favorite news source for vital weather related information.
* If flooding occurs, get to higher ground. Get out of areas subject to flooding. This includes dips, low spots, drainage ditches, canyons, washes etc.
* Avoid areas already flooded, especially if the water is flowing fast. Do not attempt to cross flowing streams. Turn Around Don’t Drown™
* Road beds may be washed out under flood waters. NEVER drive through flooded roadways – you do not know the condition of the road under the water. Turn Around Don’t Drown™
* Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams and washes, particularly during threatening conditions.  Move to higher ground if heavy rain or rising water occurs.  Creeks and streams can rise very rapidly during heavy rainfall.
* Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.
* If you must evacuate your home, secure your home and if possible, turn off utilities at the main switches or valves if instructed to do so. Disconnect electrical appliances. Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.
* Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can make you fall. If you have to walk in water, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
* Do not drive into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely. You and the vehicle can be quickly swept away.
* Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars causing loss of control and possible stalling.
* A foot of water will float many vehicles.
* Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles including sport utility vehicles (SUV’s) and pick-ups.

Play it smart, play it safe. Whether driving or walking, any time you come to a flooded road, TURN AROUND, DON’T DROWN!

Floodwater Safety

Use caution when dealing with flood waters. Flood waters may contain snakes and insects; sharp objects and debris; and oil, gasoline, industrial waste, or raw sewage.

To avoid illness and injury from floodwaters, the Oklahoma State Dept. of Health suggests the following:
* Keep children and pets from playing in flood water.
* Clean all items touched by floodwaters, including children’s toys. Use one cup of household bleach in five gallons of water.
* Throw away items that cannot be washed such as mattresses, stuffed animals, baby toys, and wood cutting boards, as well as food that may have come into contact with flood waters.
* Wash hands often with soap and clean water or use an alcohol-based sanitizer.
* Seek immediate attention if you become injured or ill.
* To protect your family and yourself, avoid floodwaters if possible.

About Jim Harris

Jim Harris has been WYSH's News & Sports Director since 2000. In addition to reporting local news, he is the play-by-play voice for Clinton High School football, boys' and girls' basketball and baseball. Catch Jim live weekdays beginning at 6:20 am for live local news, sports, weather and traffic plus the Community Bulletin Board, shenanigans with Ron Meredith and more on the Country Club Morning Show on WYSH & WQLA. Jim lives in Clinton with his wife Kelly and daughter Carolina, his mother-in-law and cats Lucius and Oliver.

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