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Waters rise throughout region

W. Kenneth Medley II • Feb 24, 2019 at 12:42 AM

Residents across Northeast Tennessee were forced to deal with flooding Saturday morning and into the night, and the National Weather Service said rain could persist into Sunday morning hours.

Washington County 911 dispatchers said 40-plus cases of flooding were reported throughout the region.

While there were no injuries reported, two evacuations were conducted: Carmel Village on Huffine Road and Big Valley Mobile Home Park in Johnson City.

BrightRidge turned off power to 30 residences on Huffine Road as well, according to Nes Levotch, emergency management director for Johnson City and Washington County. Levotch said five families had been relocated to a Red Cross shelter at University Parkway Baptist Church.

“If people see a barrier, do not go around it,” Levotch said. “Do not go through water or around things. Stay inside if you do not need to be out.”

Levotch said the biggest dangers are fast-moving water and flooded roadways. There have been no reports of septic tanks or other buried items coming out of the ground, but he added that the ground is saturated and it is a risk.

Carter County was also dealing with high water.

Eric Goding, co-owner of The Smokehouse BBQ Co. in Elizabethton, said the water was encroaching on his home feet-by-the-hour from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The stairs to his home were under two feet of water at 5 p.m.

Goding owns the restaurant with his brother.

“I was prepping that (the restaurant) for a long time,” said Goding, “We put some sandbags by the doors so it should be fine.”

Goding said there was no damage inside his home. He and his family were there, and his children were saddened when they saw their swing under water. Goding also made sure to anchor his shed and some other property before the water was too high.

Residents upstream on Buffalo Creek living in Okolona Estates were surprised by the height of floodwaters. Tom Williams said he had never seen water on Old Buffalo Road. There were many people out photographing the water and road from a safe distance.

Michael Ledford’s home was surrounded by floodwater.

“When we got up this morning it wasn’t bad until about 9 o’clock,” said Ledford, “and then it kept getting higher and higher. I haven’t got out to check yet, but I am worried about the septic tank. I just hope it stops soon.”

Darryl Hayden and William Heaton were on Old Buffalo Road surveying damage at 4 p.m. Both are residents of Okolona Estates and said the floodwater was worse earlier in the day. Hayden said that he has lived in his home for six years and this was the worst flooding he has witnessed.

“I had water 10 feet from my house,” said Hayden. He said his barn has a dirt floor, “and there is about seven to eight inches of water in there.”

Hayden’s frontyard was damaged by water covering it most of the day Saturday. There was still water flowing under his privacy fence in the rear of his home. He said there was no damage to his home, just to his outbuilding.

Downstream, athletic fields at Milligan College and Happy Valley were under water. Floodwaters were in the dugouts at Happy Valley High School. Debris was floating across the field with the current of Buffalo Creek.

With rain persisting through the night there is a danger of more flooding, although much of Saturday’s high water was reportedly receding. Debris lines were visible in flooded areas.

Levotch added that in case one is evacuated or has to go to a shelter, to make sure to take medications or a prescription. He said that the Red Cross can help replace lost medications, but a prescription will be needed.

In an event of an emergency call 911. If one is in their vehicle and can stay in it, he said they should.

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