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Damage assessments begin as flood water recedes; shelters open as needed

Becky Campbell • Updated Feb 25, 2019 at 7:09 PM

Tributary lakes in East Tennessee were key to keeping flooding to a minimum along the Tennessee Valley Authority river system as record rainfall doused the region and state over the past week.

“We have seen very high rainfall, between 4 to 5 inches in East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia all the way up to 12 inches in Alabama,” James Everett, manager of the TVA River Forecast Center, said Monday in a teleconference with media from across the state.

“Boone Lake reservoir, most folks there are aware that over the last several weeks we allowed lake levels to rise in conjunction with some testing that was going on at the dam,” Everett said. “Normal levels at Boone have been at the 1,350 to 1,355 range and with the testing we were conducting in the last several weeks we allowed the levels to run to about 1,358 to 1,359 and during this past event we’ve followed suit and lake levels went up to about 1,358.”

Holding that water back allowed room downstream for flood control.

“We utilized spillway gates to move some of that water,” Everett said about Boone. “Levels up there now are back to the upper end of that normal operating range, and we expect to get back down to normal operating range in the next few days.”

Further downstream, the Tennessee River crested at 29 feet in Florence and should start falling eventually, Everett said.

“The rainfall has ended but our work is far from being over,” he said.

Earlier in the day Monday, the American Red Cross was working to shut down an emergency shelter in Greene County after those who sought refuge there went back home, but a shelter in Johnson City was still open.

“At this time, Washington County (University Parkway Baptist Church) is still open but we’re working to close the shelter in Greene County,” Kalen Collins, executive director of the Northeast Tennessee Red Cross, said.

“Our damage assessment team is starting their work to assess damage in Northeast Tennessee to see what assistance we might be able to help with. We cover 13 counties, so we’ll provide assistance in those areas. We have a group of trained volunteers who go out to assess the damage,” she said.

Collins said the Red Cross won’t push clients to leave a shelter until they’re ready.

“We’re not going to push our clients out. We’ll be there as long as we need to be,” she said.

Nes Levotch, director of the Washington County/Johnson City EMA, said the agency is working on a plan to conduct damage assessment.

“All the roads are in good shape. Down around Carmel Village we have property damage and we can’t even get in there right now,” Levotch said.

For safety issues, power was off at that trailer park and at a few homes on Todd Drive, he said.

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Reported earlier:

The American Red Cross was working to shut down an emergency shelter in Greene County Monday morning after those who sought refuge there went back home, but a shelter in Johnson City was still open.

“At this time, Washington County (University Parkway Baptist Church) is still open but we’re working to close the shelter in Greene County,” Kalen Collins, executive director of the Northeast Tennessee Red Cross, said.

“Our damage assessment team is starting their work to assess damage in Northeast Tennessee to see what assistance we might be able to help with. We cover 13 counties, so we’ll provide assistance in those areas. We have a group of trained volunteers who go out to assess the damage,” she said.

Collins said the Red Cross won’t push clients to leave a shelter until they’re ready.

“We’re not going to push our clients out. We’ll be there as long as we need to be,” she said.

Nes Levotch, director of the Washington County/Johnson City EMA, said the agency is working on a plan to conduct damage assessment.

“All the roads are in good shape. Down around Carmel Village we have property damage and we can’t even get in there right now,” Levotch said.

For safety issues, power was off at that trailer park and at a few homes on Todd Drive, he said.

Keep checking with www.JohnsonCityPress.com for more details as they develop.

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