Heavy rains cause flooding throughout state
by: Amanda Hill Bond
Tennessee received some strong storms Saturday and Sunday which caused massive record flooding and is responsible for many deaths, with the death toll possibly rising as water recedes.
According to the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) rain gauge, Byrdstown received 7.72 inches of rain from Saturday to Monday. The rain caused much damage to several roads throughout the county due to mudslides, heavy flowing water and roads temporarily under water.
As of presstime Tuesday, Jolly Creek Road and a Parker Community road were still underwater. "We started working Friday night clearing fallen trees from the high winds and have continued to clear roadways and repair them quickly as possible. It will still take weeks to get all the county roads back in good shape and the cost to repair all of the damage is still unknown," said Pickett County Road Superintendent Jimmy Cope.
Pickett County Schools had to open two hours late Monday morning from the road conditions.
The heavy rains caused creeks to rise, rivers to swell and locally all the run off ends up in Dale Hollow Lake. "On Saturday morning, the lake elevation was 650.14 and as of noon Tuesday it was at 657.06 making it seven feet higher. Most of the rise came in a 48 hour period. The last time it was higher was back in 1984 at 660.22. The average lake level for Dale Hollow in May is 649," said Manager/Owner Tom Allen of Sunset Marina.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a press release for the Dale Hollow Dam on Tuesday stating since local runoff has subsided, the hydropower units will be brought online to start the process of pulling the lake level back down. There is a good chance that spillway gates will need to be opened to pull the lake level down in a timely manner.
Due to the flooding situation, there is no official word on when the lake will start to lower.
The Obey River swimming area and campgrounds are currently underwater in many areas. U.S. Corps of Engineer Rangers urge people to not drive through the campground if you don't need to be there. The roads are specifically designed to be one way streets, and with most of the roads underwater, a vehicle could get stuck or drop off the edge while driving the wrong way.
Local marinas have had an impact on the high lake levels also. Sunset Marina and Resort reports that ramps are available but not very accessible and about 75 percent of the parking lot is covered. Eagles Cove doesn't have an accessible loading ramp, the bottom of the road to resort is partially covered in water, also a cabin had to be repaired because a tree fell on it. Star Point has about 60 percent of parking underwater but still has launch availability. All of these marinas are still operating and are working hard to extend walkways and have everything accessible to customers.
If you do choose to launch your boat now, know that the lake is full of debris, large trees and logs. Boaters are urged to use caution.