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Heavy rain, flood warnings return to region

staff report • Jan 30, 2013 at 7:15 AM

Officials throughout the region were keeping tabs on rising creeks and standing water on roadways, while urging motorists to use caution and never attempt to drive through submerged areas.

The Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office reported early Wednesday evening that no roads were officially closed, but they were monitoring numerous trouble spots that could present issues throughout the night.

SCSO Public Information Officer Leslie Earhart said Highway 11-W between Bristol and Kingsport had several sections of standing water, while dispatchers were swamped with crash reports from across the county.

One of those calls came from Dunlap Road at about 3 p.m., where a motorist became stranded after attempting to drive on a portion of submerged roadway. Emergency crews responded to the scene, where the driver was found unhurt. A tow truck removed her vehicle.

Earhart said Wednesday’s steady rains, on top of already saturated ground, were prompting police concerns with several thoroughfares in the immediate vicinity of Kingsport: Bancroft Chapel Road, Packing House Road, Horse Creek at Highway 93, Reservoir Road, Lebanon Road, and Bloomingdale Pike.

Kingsport Public Works Director Ryan McReynolds said early Wednesday evening that no roads in the city had been closed due to the flooding, but standing water could be found on some thoroughfares. McReynolds said these roads are typically known to have standing water during heavy rains.

“There’s some normal, localized flooding, standing water on some roads, so we’re asking people to drive carefully,” McReynolds said.

High water warning signs were posted at Cassell Drive and Brookside Drive, the city was pumping water from Lochwood, Martin Luther King Jr. Drive at Louis Street and on West Center Street near Lynn Garden Drive. McReynolds said high water caused the right lane of Lincoln Street at Sullivan Street to be closed temporarily.

As an advisory, McReynolds said motorists should look out for potholes while traveling throughout the Model City, given the heavy rains two weeks ago, then the freeze-thaw cycles from last week loosening the asphalt and the recent rains causing the asphalt to wash out.

In Hawkins County, several roads were reported closed due to flooding shortly before 3 p.m. as school buses were preparing to take children home for the day.

Hawkins County Emergency Management Agency Director Gary Murrell said Route 113 near St. Clair School was flooding and there was concern about having to reroute buses.

There was also flooding on Walkers Church Road and Long Town Road, and Murrell said that around 3 p.m. highway officials were preparing to close those roads as well.

Some Hawkins County school buses were delayed returning students to their homes Wednesday afternoon due to flooding conditions and excessive water on the roads.

Early dismissal was not an option for the school system due to extreme weather conditions with the possibility of strong winds and a tornado watch.

Director of Schools Charlotte Britton said there was continuous monitoring of weather and road conditions throughout the day. She said schools also kept up with communication between the Highway Department, Central Dispatch, and Murrell.

School administrators and personnel remained at the schools until all buses completed their routes and were cleared by reporting to the Transportation Department and Central Office personnel.

“All bus drivers were reminded of the safety rule to never cross water over the roads and to return the students to their school if water was over the road,” Britton said. “Several students were returned to schools by bus drivers who were not able to complete their bus route, and parents were notified to pick up their student at the school. Constant contact between bus drivers, Transportation Department, and Central Office took place during the afternoon while buses were in route.”

In Scott and Lee counties a flood warning remained in effect until midnight as a result of the severe weather.

A flood warning was also issued for the Clinch River and North Fork of the Holston River in Scott County, although neither river was expected to exceed its flood stage.

Between 1- to 2-inches of precipitation fell in parts of Gate City over the course of the day, while more than 2 inches of precipitation was measured in Jonesville.

Scott County Emergency Management Director Jeff Brickey said the severe weather had only caused limited flooding along creeks and streams in parts of Scott County.

“There is some flooding on Methodist Camp Road where (Stony Creek) is coming up and there’s a little bit along the road on 65 between Fort Blackmore and Dungannon where streams are running out in the road,” he said. “It’s not too deep or too bad; it’s about what you would normally have.”

Brickey added that Big Moccasin Creek could still rise “6 or 8 more inches” before it started to cover Filter Plant Road near Gate City.

Brickey said officials would continue monitoring conditions overnight, but he did not expect the rain to cause additional flooding problems.

As of Wednesday evening, National Weather Service forecasters were expecting rain before 4 a.m. today, then a chance of snow showers. Lows for much of the area were expected to be around 30, with wind gusts as high as 40 mph.

Snow was expected this morning before 7 a.m., followed by partly sunny skies and highs near 37. More snow was expected tonight, bringing moderate snow accumulations to the higher elevations.

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