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Mudslides take out three more roads in Hawkins as flooding continues

Jeff Bobo • Updated Feb 24, 2019 at 11:05 AM

ROGERSVILLE — With continued heavy rainfall, Hawkins County’s rural mountain highways have been  ticking bombs, and Saturday evening three of them exploded.

Emergency Management Agency Director Gary Murrell reported Saturday evening that a section of Mooresburg Springs Road in the far western part of the county fell into Cherokee Lake and was “completely gone.”

Early Branch Road in the Bays Mountain area of south central Hawkins County slid into the creek and was “gone completely.”

And shortly after 8 p.m., a massive mudslide on New Salem Road in the Caney Creek community just north of Rogersville was blocked by a mudslide that rained trees and debris onto the roadway.

“The whole side of the mountain came off and it’s laying in the (New Salem) road,” Murrell told the Times News Saturday night. “Mooresburg Springs is completely gone. It’s going to be closed for months. Early Branch road did the same thing. There’s a section about 100 feet long, the roadway is completely gone. The bad thing about it is all these areas are still active. The mud and debris is still moving.”

Rogersville mudslide evacuation

Around 9: 30 p.m. Saturday Rogersville fire and police officials ordered the evacuation of eight apartments on Woodlawn Avenue after a mudslide struck the back of the building.

As of 10 p.m. the debris had reportedly piled up three feet high at the rear of the building which houses eight separate apartments.

The exact number of people evacuated wasn’t available but they were being housed at the Hawkins County Rescue Squad station on McKinney Avenue, which is actually within view of the apartment complex.

The building was seriously compromised and officials said it won’t be habitable in the foreseeable future. The  American Red Cross was being contacted to assist the residents with temporary housing.

Everyone urged to stay home if possible

Slides and flooding were so widespread it was impossible to identify all the locations.

Murrell said that if a road usually floods, assume it’s flooded now and stay away. If you do have to travel, go slowly and make sure the road ahead of you hasn’t either collapsed or been covered by a slide from above.

Early Thursday morning, a Jonesborough man was killed and an Eidson man seriously injured when they reportedly drove off a section of Route 70-N on Clinch Mountain north of Rogersville after a 200-foot section of highway collapsed.

Another issue that concerned emergency personnel Saturday was access to residents who are cut off by flooding or lost roadways.

Murrell noted that most of those areas are very rural, and if one direction of access is blocked, it usually means a lengthy detour to get to the other side.

On Saturday morning, Jim Town Road was completely inaccessible due to flooding, so the Hawkins County Rescue Squad had to take a boat to retrieve a woman suffering a health problem and in need of hospitalization.

Murrell said, “Every time we come upon an impassible roadway, we document it and report to dispatch, which is logging it on a map so that when they send crews to respond to these emergencies, they’re being sent on the shortest route on roads that are still open.”

Murrell identified several other main thoroughfares that should be avoided including: Blevins Road, Big Elm Road, Christians Bend Road, Van Hill Road, County Line Road, Long Town Road, Hickory Cove Road, Fishers Creek Road, Williams Road, Cave Springs Road, St. Clair Road (Route 113), Jim Town Road and Route 70-S south of Rogersville.

At 9 p.m. Saturday, there was police scanner talk of a vehicle stranded on Big Elm Road. “We need to get a ‘Road Closed’ sign up here,” one officer stated on his radio.

"We've got multiple roads closed in Hawkins County due to flash flooding,” Murrell reported earlier Saturday. “Little War Gap across Clinch Mountain washed away. We’re getting numerous reports of small slides on Route 66-N just out of the Rogersville city limits, and TDOT is out working everything they can. We don’t know if some roads have washed away or not because we can’t get to them to check them due to water. Trees have fallen, taken power lines down. We’re just trying to urge people to stay home if you don’t need to get out. The emergency responders are even having trouble getting to places they need to get to due to the conditions they’re fighting right now.

“It’s everywhere in Hawkins County and it’s not getting better because the rain is coming down heavier, and whatever continues to fall only increases our problem.”


 Previous report:

ROGERSVILLE — Hawkins County is reporting multiple roads closed due to flooding, and Emergency Management Agency director Gary Murrell is urging everyone to stay home and off the roadways if at all possible.

Murrell: "We've got multiple roads closed in Hawkins County due to flash flooding. Little War Gap across Clinch Mountain washed away. we're getting numerous reports of small slides on Rt. 66N just out of the Rogersville city limits and TDOT is out working everything they can."

“We don't know if some roads have washed away or not because we can’t get to them to check them due to water. Trees have fallen, taken power lines down. We're just trying to urge people to stay home if you don't need to get out. The emergency responders are even having trouble getting to places they need to get to due to the conditions they're fighting right now."

Among the main Hawkins Co. roads reported impassible:

Long Town Road, Hickory Cove Road, Fishers Creek Road, Williams Road, Cave springs road and St. Clair Road (Rt. 113), Jim Town Road,and Rt. 70S is covered with water.

Murrell: "Jim Town Road was impassible due to water and rescuers actually had to go in there via boats, into the backside, to get a lady out to get her to Holston Valley. It was due tot he water on the road and the trees and power lines on that."

"It's everywhere in Hawkins County and it's not getting better because the rain is coming down heavier, and whatever continues to fall only increases our problem.”

According to TDOT

Current Conditions: Rain still continues across the region. A portion of the region is still in a flood watch status until Saturday afternoon. Additional rainfall accumulations of ½” is expected from noon Saturday to Sunday morning. In addition to flooding and slope stability concerns, call-outs for downed trees are occurring across the region. Smaller, localized flooding locations (not requiring a total road closure) are being addressed with high water signs.

Operations Coverage Status: TDOT has been working crews on a 24/7 shift since Friday and will continue through Sunday morning to monitor routes for flooding and potential concerns (slides, etc). In addition to Operations personnel, Geotech is maintaining a presence in the region to respond to concerns with slope stability and/or roadway cracking.

Current locations effected by possible slope failures:

• Rock slide on Interstate 40 in NC near MM 7. Message boards are in place, with full scale detour directing traffic to I-81N and I-26E to Asheville. No further changes are expected until NCDOT assesses the slope in question at daybreak. Operations crews will monitor closures and maintain routes throughout the night.

• SR73 (Blount)-Log mile 24.2 in Blount County. 1 lane configuration since 2/22/19.

• SR116 (GSI Responding-Maintenance Contract)-Log Mile 9.4 in Anderson county. 1 lane configuration

• SR66 (Hawkins), 1 lane configuration at a new location.

• SR340 (Greene), 1 lane configuration.

• SR70 (Hawkins), closed to traffic at LM 15.5. Emergency contract to let this coming week.

• SR340 (Greene), at SR349 is being monitored for cracking.

• Cracking on SR416 in Sevier. Reduced to 1 lane of travel.

• Cracking on SR61 at Big Ridge in Union County-Crews are monitoring

• SR363 in Jefferson (Log mile 2-2.5) county is cracking. Crews have closed this road and implementing detour.

• Interstate 75 in Campbell is being monitored by crews as an area of concern was identified north of Exit 134.

• Small slide on SR92 in Jefferson County. Road currently closed. Geotech on site. Crews responding now.

Localized flooding reported at the following locations:

• Interstate 40 near Exit 407 in the slow (#3) lane WB.

• SR-72 (Loudon)- Closed due to trees/utility lines. Still waiting on the arrival of AT&T due to high pressure on the lines. Crews will continue to monitor the location.

• Multiple locations of small, localized flooding continues (SR331 East Emory near Jim Wolfe and Longmire, SR131 Karns RR underpass, SR331 at Fountaingate Subdivision, SR131 near Bell Road and addressed with high water signs).

• SR-297 in Campbell (Newcomb area)-High water, but no lane closures.

• SR-113 (Hawkins)-Town called Saint Claire-closed to traffic

• SR-34 in Hamblen County at the Pizza Plus (Russellville)- closed to traffic

• Flooding on SR-1 (US-11) in Loudon County near Chrisman Road in Lenoir City, near the intersection of SR-73 (US-321).

• SR-72 in Roane county. High water signs present, no lane closures.

• SR-61 in Roane County near the Junction of SR-327. High water signs present, no lane closures.

• SR-61 in Union County near Jim Town Road

• SR-1 (US-11) in Lenoir City is closed at the 13MM. Lenoir City crews are working the lane closure.

• SR-338 (Sevier) between 13-14 mm (high water, no road closure at this time).

• US411 (Sevier) near blowing caves (high water, no road closure at this time).

• SR-139 (Jefferson)-High Water near Berry Ridge Subdivision

• SR-75 (Washington County) High Water

• SR-67 (Washington County) High Water

• SR-35 (Blount County) Road has high water in multiple locations

State Route 1 Sullivan County (Highway 11-W) is closed at SR394 for a situation unrelated to weather. Local law enforcement on scene.

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