Forge residents considered evacuation

As waters rise, they may have no choice
Jan. 15, 2013 @ 05:38 PM

Patricia King had a long, sleepless night in her home on Golden Circle Drive. Her backyard is Waldens Creek, and by Tuesday afternoon it reached her back steps.

"I called (American) Red Cross (Monday) night because I've seen it flood in this area before," said King, who lives with her daughter and granddaughter. "When it gets to a certain point, sometimes you have very little time to get out."

The American Red Cross informed her of a shelter at Tuckaleechee United Methodist Church in Townsend that the organization set up for anyone in need of refuge. King wasn't ready to leave yet, but she's well aware of the "certain point."

"We're most definitely planning to leave if the water gets up to the second step down to the back door," King said.

King has seen worse. She said the creek has flooded into her house before, and Tuesday she "thought it was getting there."

King and her family are preparing the house in case they decide to leave and go to her brother's house in Gatlinburg.

"It's still scary, no matter how many times you see it," King said. "If it continues the way it is now, and the way the meteorologists are predicting, then I will definitely have to evacuate. And that will be another sleepless night."

Although there were several floods and road closures in Pigeon Forge, Fire Chief Tony Watson believes the city is "doing fairly well right now."

"We have a couple roads that are over but not really in bad shape, and no rescues or anything right now, depending on what the rain does in the next few hours," Watson said Tuesday morning. "We're feeling comfortable now but preparing for the worst."

He said evacuations were discussed Monday night, but they did not follow through with any.

The National Weather Service predicted 1-2 inches of rain Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, and predicted Little Pigeon River to crest at 13 feet last night. It crested at 10.8 feet Monday night, and conditions continued to change throughout Tuesday.

"We're monitoring this very closely," Watson said. "The city takes a very proactive response to these situations."

The American Red Cross Disaster Action Team has also opened a shelter at the Pigeon Forge Community Center for anyone who has to evacuate due to flooding.

rhargett@themountainpress.com