Water, water everywhere

Heavy rains cause flooding, closures across coun
Jan. 15, 2013 @ 05:40 PM

Heavy rainfall Monday night closed or blocked roads, flooded areas and closed schools across Sevier County, according to officials.

The National Weather Service reported rainfall amounts up to 3 inches Tuesday and predicted 1-2 inches Tuesday night and this morning. A flood warning remains in effect for Sevier County through the evening.

The Little Pigeon River crested at 10.8 feet Monday night. As of Tuesday afternoon, the current crest was 9.8 feet, and the weather service predicted it to crest, worst-case, at 13 feet last night.

Road closures and flooded areas at some point on Tuesday, according to Sevier County Emergency Management Agency (SCEMA):

n In Sevierville: Burden Hill Road bridge closed; flooding on Apple Valley Road, both entrances to Whites School Road, and River Divide Road.

n In Pigeon Forge: River Divide Road blocked; Bud Lane, Tiger Drive, and both ends of Willow View closed; trees and power lines down in areas of 425 and 437 Sugar Hollow Rd.; flooding on Golden Circle Drive/Bud Lane, Oldham Creek/Boogertown Road, River Divide Road, and Battle Hill Road area.

n In Gatlinburg: Excess runoff water caused the partial collapse of Stone Fence Lane. Three rental cabins had to be evacuated.

n In Seymour: Happy Creek/Heather Lane closed; flooding on Long Branch Road/Heather Lane.

n In Pittman Center: Webb Creek and River Song Way evacuated.

n In English Mountain: Flooding on Jones Cove Road/Camp Hollow Road.

The American Red Cross Disaster Action Team opened a shelter at the Pigeon Forge Community Center for anyone who has to evacuate due to flooding. The Disaster Action Team in Blount County has set up a shelter at Tuckaleechee United Methodist Church, 7322 Tuckaleechee Rd., in Townsend.

No injuries were reported, but one reported rescue situation occurred around 10:15 p.m. Monday in the parking lot behind Tanger Five Oaks Outlet Center in Sevierville, according to Sevierville Public Information Officer Bob Stahlke. City police officers and firefighters responded to a call from a woman who said she was sitting on her vehicle in the parking lot near the swollen Little Pigeon River.

Stahlke said one female and one male, who worked at the outlet center, drove their respective cars into standing water in the parking lot, and realized they couldn't go further once the water was at door-level. A firefighter returned both drivers, whose names were not given, to dry land.

"It was not a swift-water rescue, but the bottom line is she did the right thing by calling and not getting into that water," Stahlke said. "Fortunately neither one was injured. The cars were damaged, but the lesson is to not drive into the water."

SCEMA Director John Mathews echoed that sentiment and encouraged people to use caution, especially while conditions continue to change.

"Please use caution on roadways. Don't try to cross roads that have water running across them," Mathews said. "Don't put your life and the lives of others in danger."

Sevier County Schools were closed Tuesday due to heavy rainfall and flooding, making some roads impassable and driving conditions poor.

"It would not have been safe for us to transport students on buses, so in the best interest of the students, (Superintendent) Dr. (Jack) Parton made the decision to close the schools today," Assistant Superintendent Debra Cline said Tuesday. "We'll have to wait and see whether the water goes down and what the conditions will be in the morning. We hope they improve greatly."

Mountain Hope Good Shepherd Clinic closed early on Tuesday due to flooding and will also be closed today.

rhargett@themountainpress.com