County, region brace for possible floods

By Abby Morris

Star Staff

   As severe weather still threatens much of the Southern and Midwestern portions of the country, Carter County is preparing itself against flash flooding in the event that heavy rains continue to pour.
   According to the National Weather Service, Northeast Tennessee was under a flash flood warning on Tuesday and that warning is likely to continue as a cold front in the Midwest continues to create storm activity.
   Reneé Bowers, interim director of the Elizabethton/Carter County Emergency Management Agency, said that the possibility of flash flooding is one that the county is currently preparing for. "We've got spotters out keeping a watch on the rivers and creeks," Bowers said.
   Across the state, communities are bracing for the possibility of flooding in their communities. On Tuesday, the Tennessee Valley Authority office in Knoxville placed the agency's flood control center into full operation, according to TVA spokesman Gil Francis. "Our attention is turned to the rivers to minimize potential flooding," he said.
   According to Francis, five to six inches of rain fell on the TVA region between Knoxville and Chattanooga within a 24 hour period on Monday. Due to that heavy rainfall, the TVA is using its system of dams to control water flow and hopefully avert disaster.
   "We anticipate using all storage space in the main river. We have shut off the tributary lakes while it is still raining."
   The TVA estimates that water may soon reach the flood gate levels at the Fort Loudon facility in Knoxville, the Chickamauga facility in Chattanooga and the Watts Bar facility in Spring City if the rains continue.
   TVA facilities at Watauga and Wilbur Dams were not discharging water on Tuesday and the TVA has no immediate plans to use those two facilities for flood control.
   Kim Fisk, of the Carter County Office of the American Red Cross, said that in the event that flooding does occur within Carter County, residents who suffer damage to their homes should contact the office to find out what services are available to them. The Red Cross routinely assists residents with the clean-up of their homes after a flood and also helps them file insurance claims.
   Residents should prepare for flooding by putting together a disaster kit that includes non-perishable food items, a battery powered radio and flashlight, extra batteries and bottled water.
   In the event of flooding, residents are advised to evacuate immediately and head to higher ground.
   According to Bowers, Carter County has designated shelter areas that would be opened in the event of a flood.