Photo by Rain Smith.
A motorist's attempts to drive on a submerged Kingsport road ended with her car stranded Wednesday morning, meriting the response of emergency crews to rescue her from her vehicle.
It's the only such incident reported in either Kingsport or Sullivan County, but multiple roadways in both jurisdictions are now closed due to standing water or flooding. Officials across the region are sounding the same alarm to the public: Don't attempt to drive on a submerged road, be cognizant of rising waters near your home.
"It's not worth the risk," said KPD Capt. Jason Bellamy. "Anytime there's water running across the roadway it presents a risk to the motorist and anyone who may have to come to their aid if they get stuck."
"Find an alternate route," he continued. "There's very few place in the city that can't be accessed by alternate means."
Wednesday morning's incident occurred on Cassell Drive in Kingsport, where signs had marked the thoroughfare as closed since Tuesday. Days of persistent rainfall have swollen the waters of adjacent Reedy Creek out of its banks, over the Greenbelt and onto the roadway.
The woman called dispatch at approximately 6:45 a.m. to report she was stranded with water rushing into her car. The Kingsport Fire Department and Kingsport Police responded to find her Dodge Stratus submerged nearly over the tires.
Rescuers donned swift water rescue gear and waded into the street to pull her from the car. Kingsport police say she was taken to neighboring Holston Valley Medical Center for observation, due to the chilly waters coming into her car and over her driver's seat.
As of 9 a.m. Big Elm Road along the Holston River had also been closed, along with East Ravine Road from Holston Valley Medical Center to the traffic circle at Gibson Mill. Capt. Bellamy said others could join the list over the coming day.
"Anywhere near the Holston River, Reedy Creek or any body of water is subject to flooding," he said. "If the rains continue, obviously there will be other places at some points that will be impassable."
Meanwhile, closed roads in Sullivan County grew by one overnight. Sullivan County Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer Leslie Earhart says the area where West Carters Valley Road meets Holston River Drive has been blocked, while the Highway Department is reporting Sullivan Gardens and Hickory Tree as two of the most treacherous areas.
Five Sullivan County roads remain closed from Tuesday; Highway 93 at Horse Creek in Kingsport, the section of Orebank Road near Archcrest Street in Kingsport, Reservoir Road at Long Hollow Road in Kingsport, Tate Road in Bluff City, and Huffman Hill Road in Piney Flats.
A flood watch across the region has been extended through Thursday evening. For the latest forecasts and hazardous weather outlooks visit the National Weather Service.