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UPDATED: Latest on flooding in Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia

Staff • Updated Feb 6, 2020 at 6:39 PM

Heavy rainfall has caused widespread flooding across the region. We’ll have continuing coverage at timesnews.net on this developing story. Email [email protected] to share weather-related photos and information.

📸 View Feb. 6 flood photos here

Governor Northam declares state of emergency

RICHMOND — Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency today in response to heavy rains and extreme flooding in multiple jurisdictions in Virginia.

Localities in Southwest Virginia have been particularly hard hit by flooding, and as the storm continues to move east across Virginia, impacts and storm damage are expected statewide.

A state of emergency allows the Commonwealth to mobilize resources and position people and equipment to assist in storm response and recovery efforts.

“This weather is potentially dangerous, and rivers and streams can reach flood stage hours after the rain has passed,” said Gov. Northam. “I urge all Virginians to monitor forecasts, and be prepared to obey local evacuation orders if needed. We are grateful to first responders who are working to rescue people from flooded homes and keep citizens safe.”

The flooding has affected homes and required rescue of citizens, particularly in Southwest Virginia. According to reports from emergency officials, more than 500 residents in and around the town of Richlands, in Tazewell County, have been displaced by flooding and needed rescue from their homes. A number of roads in Southwest Virginia are closed or washed out.

Virginians should not drive across any flooded roadway, as it only takes six inches of water to move a vehicle, and roads may be washed out beneath the floodwaters.

Severe weather conditions are expected to persist across the Commonwealth for the next 24 hours. State and local officials will continue to monitor weather conditions.

Virginians should follow the Virginia Department of Emergency Management on Twitter and Facebook for preparedness updates and their local National Weather Service office for the latest weather forecast, advisories, watches, or warnings.

VSP advising motorists to remain alert for flooded roadways

As the rain continues to fall and with numerous roadways flooded, the Virginia State Police is advising Virginians to be alert for more flashing flooding and standing water across southwest and western Virginia. If having to travel this evening or overnight, be sure to check in advance VDOT's 511 Website or by downloading the 511 app for the latest road conditions and closures.

Motorists are reminded to never drive in flooded areas, as cars or other vehicles will not protect you from floodwaters. Especially after dark, flooded roadways can be very deceptive in regards to how deep the water is and how fast it may be moving. Floodwaters can also hide hazardous debris. Vehicles of any size can be swept away or may stall in moving water. The message is simple: Turn Around. Don't Drown.

Virginia State Police have been responding all day across the Wytheville Division to calls of debris in the road and flooded roads. Troopers have been working closely with VDOT to close and clear roadways for the safety of motorists and residents. Fortunately, crashes have been at a minimum as drivers have been driving for conditions.

American Red Cross responds to storm damage and flooding

The American Red Cross Tennessee Region has teams across middle and east Tennessee responding to storm damage and flooding. Disaster assessment teams will travel through affected communities when it is safe to do so. Shelters are on standby to open as needed to give displaced residents a safe place to stay. 

One such shelter has been opened at Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church in Johnson City.

As more rain moves through the state today, Red Cross workers are monitoring the situation and are ready to respond if additional assistance is needed. If someone is in need of assistance, they should call 1-800-RED CROSS.

For your own safety,

• Listen to local area radio, NOAA radio or TV stations for the latest information and updates.

• Be prepared to evacuate quickly and know your routes and destinations.

• Avoid contact with floodwater. It may be contaminated with sewage or contain dangerous insects or animals.

• Don't walk, swim or drive through floodwater. Just six inches of fast-flowing water can knock you over and two feet will float a car.

• If caught on a flooded road with rapidly rising waters, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground.

• Stay out of areas subject to flooding. Underpasses, dips, low spots, canyons, washes, etc. can become filled with water.

Around the Region

⚠️ All Northeast State Community College evening classes that begin at 5:30 p.m. or after today (Feb. 6) are canceled. All Northeast State campuses will close at 5:30  p.m.

⚠️ Washington Co. (TN) Schools will be closed Friday, Feb. 7, 2020, due to localized flooding and hazardous road conditions. Please drive safely if you must get out in the rain.

⚠️ Due to inclement weather, UVA Wise will operate on a 90 minute delay on Friday, Feb. 7.

⚠️ Mark Nagi, community relations officer for TDOT-Region 1, reports that “roads across the region are affected by heavy rains. Please, use extreme caution when behind the wheel today/tonight. Latest information available 24/7 on the @myTDOT SmartWay system.

⚠️ Scott County, Virginia, Schools will be closed Friday, Feb. 7.

⚠️ Hawkins County Schools will be closed Friday, Feb. 7.

⚠️ Wise County Schools will be closed Friday, Feb. 7.

⚠️ Washington County (VA) Schools will be closed Friday, Feb. 7.

⚠️ SR 33 is closed in Hancock County between Brooks Road and G. Nichols Road due to flooding, according to TDOT’s Mark Nagi.

⚠️ According to the National Weather Service Morristown/Knoxville, “gusty winds upward of 40 mph are moving in along the cold front. Saturated soils will allow for weakened root systems and thus increasing the potential for falling trees. 

⚠️ The Virginia Department of Emergency Management says “heavy rains continue to batter much of Virginia today. In Abingdon, floodwaters have caused a section of Main Street to be closed and have inundated some property. Go to vaemergency.gov/floods to learn more about flood safety.

⚠️ According to Mark Nagi with TDOT, “SR 348 is closed in Greene County between Croff Kirk Road and South Mohawk Road due to flooding.”

⚠️ SR 75 is closed at Yankee Camp Road in Washington County, Tennessee, due to flooding, according to TDOT’s Mark Nagi.

Hawkins road closed by mudslide

Around 4 p.m. Thursday Hawkins County Highway Department Superintendent Lowell Bean reported that a section of Barrett Hollow road off of Mountain View Road south of Church Hill had been closed due to a mudslide.

“(A highway worker) said it just slid the side of the road off,” Bean said. “He said there was probably about 100 feet (missing), so we closed the road off and put cones around just in case someone tries to run around it.”

Bean said the slide took out about half the road, which is already narrow to start with.

“If you try to go around that you could end up down at the bottom somewhere,” Bean added.

Hawkins rescuers enter flood waters to retrieve crash victim on Rt. 113

BULLS GAP — Hawkins County rescuers entered flood waters early Thursday morning to retrieve a motorist whose vehicle had run off the roadway and into a flooded ditch.

At approximately 4:52 a.m. Thursday Hawkins County Emergency Crews were notified of a single motor vehicle crash in the area of Highway 113 near Bulls Gap Saint Clair Road in Hawkins County.

According to a report by Hawkins County Rescue Squad Lt. Corey Young, while en route to the scene, emergency crews were advised the vehicle was in floodwaters with one person in the vehicle.

Upon arrival, emergency crews located a vehicle with a patient inside. The vehicle was approximately 10 feet off the roadway in a ditch that was flooded. Emergency crews entered the floodwaters to gain access to the patient. Once emergency crews were able to free the patient from the vehicle, the individual was transported to an area hospital by Hawkins County EMS.

Agencies that responded to the incident included: Hawkins County Rescue Squad, Hawkins County EMS, Bulls Gap Volunteer Fire Department, Persia Volunteer Fire Department, Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office and TDOT.

Flooded Hawkins County roads

Hawkins County Highway Department superintendent Lowell Bean gave the Times News the following list of roads he knows to be flooded as of 10:45 a.m. including: Blevins Road, Housewright Hollow Road, Caney Creek Road, Big Elm Elm Road, and Buzzards Roost.

“I’m sure there will be more flooding roads as the day comes along,” Bean said. “Right now, we're running all over the place cleaning out tile debris and trying to cut water out of the road — keep as much water off the roads as we can.”

Bean added, “People just need to be careful and expect water in any low place. Don't get in any hurry because any low places have water standing in it. I think when it quits raining, most of it will go down pretty quick, and that’s why we’re trying to keep the tiles clean.”

⚠️ According to TDOT’s Mark Nagi, “flooded roadway conditions reported on SR 93 in Sullivan County between Murrell Road and Mill Creek Road.”

Flood warning remains in effect

A number of school systems in the region are closed today because of the flooding, and high waters have blocked roads throughout the area.

The region remains under a flood warning from the National Weather Service through early Friday afternoon.

Early Thursday (updated 7:26 a.m.)

⚠️ The Hawkins County Rescue Squad issues the following statement: Motorists are advised to use extreme caution on all roadways throughout Hawkins County. There are reports of several roadways that have high flood water covering them. Please remember the old saying we have all heard, “Turn Around, Don’t Drown.” Please do not attempt to drive on the roads that are covered with high water.”

⚠️ Norton City Schools now closed Thursday, Feb. 6

⚠️ UVA Wise will be closed today, Feb, 6, due to flash flooding in the area

⚠️ Wise County Schools will be closed Thursday, Feb. 6.

⚠️ Scott County Schools closed Thursday, Feb. 6.

⚠️ Lee County Schools closed Thursday, Feb. 6

⚠️ Hawkins County Schools closed Thursday, Feb. 6, and Friday, Feb. 7.

Note: Sullivan County Schools had already canceled classes Feb. 6-7 due to widespread illness.

⚠️ According to the National Weather Service at Morristown, as of 5 a.m., “Big Creek near Rogersville is now in minor flood with a current stage of 8.29ft and rising. At 8 feet water crosses highway 347. Turn Around Don't Drown!”

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