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Tennessee flooding leaves one dead, sparks state of emergency

KNOXVILLE – Knox County officials have begun assessing damage in the area after Saturday’s heavy rain and flooding which left one person dead. 

East Tennessee experienced nine days of rain, resulting in a record-setting amount of rain, massive flooding and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency declaring a state of emergency in Tennessee. 

Many roads closed over the weekend, and several school districts in East Tennessee will be closed on Monday due to flooding, including Knox County Schools. One man died when his car was trapped in the flood waters, and another woman was rescued from her vehicle after it became trapped in flood waters. 

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Knox County commissioner surveys damage with Knox County Sheriff’s Office

Knox County Commissioner Larsen Jay went out with the Knox County Sheriff’s Office on Saturday night to assess damages after a day of heavy rain and flooding. 

“I went…to assess different areas of town so if I had constituents call, I could have information,” Jay said. “I also wanted to show support of our reserve deputies. We had a lot of reserve deputies who came out and volunteered their time as a safety measure.”

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Jay said it was “the most water I’ve seen in my 25 years in and around Knoxville.”

“What I saw was just massive areas of flooding in all areas of town,” Jay said. “There were no areas of Knoxville that weren’t affected.”

First responders ‘prevented a lot of further disasters’

Jay said he was with officers at the location where a man died early on Sunday morning after his car was submerged in floodwater

“I saw a really remarkable team of first responders who really came together and figured out how to keep Knox County safe,” Jay said. “It’s a great testament to our first responders…who probably prevented a lot of further disasters last night.”

Jay praised first responders from various agencies for being “one solidified group,” and said they were prepared to deal with the flooding that occurred. Jay said he also had hope that Knox County residents would come together in the aftermath of the flooding.

“At the end of the day, Knox County residents are resilient and we really pull together,” Jay said. “The community will come together and help each other.”

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Three roads need significant repairs

Jim Snowden, deputy director of the Knox County Department of Engineering and Public Works, said there are three roads in Knox County that are considered “wash-outs” and will need significant repairs: Everett Road, Diggs Gap Road, and Hightop Road. 

Of the three, Snowden estimated that Diggs Gap Road and Hightop Road would be able to reopen after one day of repairs. Everett Road could take up to a week to repair, where a “whole slope came out with a part of a larger rock” and will require “about a 20-foot fill.”

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The final cost for repairs to roads is not known at this time, Snowden said, but will be calculated this week. 

Snowden said when talking with the Tennessee Department of Transportation, there weren’t many mudslides or landslides in the area. There were two reported, but both were cleared by Sunday night. Snowden also said potholes were being reported but “we haven’t seen a tremendous amount of those.”

“All things considered, we were lucky with the storm that we had,” Snowden said. 

Follow Monica Kast on Twitter: @monica_kast

 

Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/02/25/tennessee-flooding-one-dead-state-emergency/2977471002/


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