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Schools, old courthouse among buildings flooded in Blountville

Staff Report • Aug 13, 2013 at 10:05 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — Sullivan County schools and roads in the greater Blountville area east to the Bristol area flooded late Tuesday morning and early afternoon.

So did some areas of the old Sullivan County Courthouse downtown, as well as other county buildings.

And at least one motorist was temporarily caught in a stalled-out car in high water but was uninjured.

“It must have rained four to five inches here in about three or four hours,” said Claude Smith, construction manager and maintenance supervisor for the county.

Joe Davenport, supervisor of maintenance for the county school system, said the heaviest rain began in Blountville at about 11 a.m. and continued until about 12:30 p.m.

Davenport said 3 feet of water flooded the Blountville Middle School boiler room, which houses a gas boiler.

“We’re getting the water up now,” he said Tuesday afternoon. “It was up toward the bottom of the control panels.”

At Blountville Elementary, he said students had to be relocated out of a basement classroom after water made its way into a crawlspace and then entered a classroom.

“Apparently, the water got through the foundation wall next to the classroom space and came into the classroom space,” Davenport said. He said another area of the school next to the baseball field also had some flooding.

At Weaver Elementary in east Sullivan County, a basement flooded when water came through a foundation wall, Davenport said.

Elsewhere in the county seat and the county, sheriff’s office spokeswoman Leslie Earhart said that Franklin Drive and Massengill Road in downtown Blountville were flooded and temporarily closed, with a motorist stranded on Franklin Drive for a time. Emergency Medical Services personnel got the driver safely from the vehicle.

Also closed because of flooding were Carden Hollow Road and Bethel Drive near Exide Drive, Earhart said.

Unless lives are endangered, Earhart said emergency calls for flooded roads are referred to the highway department to put up barricades until the water subsides.

Smith said the central receiving area of the old courthouse got some water, too, but no major damage.

“It came from the roof in the old jail,” Smith said. He said a drain on the roof clogged and overflowed, causing water to accumulate atop the roof until it went down a plumbing vent pipe.

In addition, he said some water came through a wall into the county maintenance shop near the courthouse, through the roof of EMS Station 1 near the sheriff’s office and through a ridge vent on the old Sullivan House location used for storage.

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