Ivan comes through Tennessee

Roan Mountain, Elk Mills, hit hard

By Abby Morris-Frye
star staff

  Portions of Carter County were dealt a devastating blow as the remnants of Hurricane Ivan passed through the northeast Tennessee area on Friday.
  The rains rolled into Carter County early Friday morning, but by the time the evening rolled around, the flood waters were already starting to recede and the last of the rain was falling.
  Roan Mountain, Elk Mills and Poga were the hardest hit portions of the county according to Elizabethton/Carter County Emergency Management Agency Director Ernest Jackson. "Roan Mountain has been the worst," he said.
  Though no estimates are available on the damages yet, the damage is obvious to see, Jackson said. "We've got a lot of damage to roadways," he said. "I'm going to go out Monday with one of the fellows from the Property Assessor's office and try to get an idea of the damage."
  In Roan Mountain, the Doe River erupted out of its banks, flowing over roads and bridges alike, making some areas completely impassible and leaving piles of tree limbs and other debris as a reminder of where the waters had been.
  In the Cove Creek area of Roan Mountain, some trees were toppled by wind and minor mudslides blocking some roadways.
  As waters from the river covered roadways and fields, some bridges appeared to lead to nowhere as water came up to the edge of the bridges and no road was visible.
  Elk Mills also experienced a lot of damage as the normally tranquil Elk River turned savage. Waters from the river rushed over the river banks and flooded some roads while destroying others.
  Even the Elk Mills-Poga Volunteer Fire Department found itself a little wet on Friday as water from the river crept into the fire department's building, according to a member of the fire department.
  The Elk Mills Community Park was lost in the rapids of the river on Friday as swift water moved through the park engulfing playground equipment and nearly covering a picnic shelter completely.
  According to officers with the Carter County Sheriff's Department, at least one home in the area was nearly completely submerged by water but no one was injured.
  Jackson stated that Elk Mills and Poga residents were without power for approximately an hour on Friday morning.
  The American Red Cross opened two shelters in Carter County on Wednesday morning, one at Little Milligan Elementary School and the other at Cloudland High School, but both of the shelters closed Friday evening after residents were able to return home.
  Despite the fact that the county sustained damage to roadways and bridges and some residents were forced to evacuate while many more sustained damage to their homes, vehicles or property, Jackson stated on Saturday that Carter County was lucky because the storm did not hit the county as hard as weather predictions had forecast.
  "I'm just glad we didn't get what they were originally predicting for us. They were calling for anywhere from three to 15 inches of rain, depending on who you were listening to," he said. "We were really fortunate, a lot more fortunate than some of the counties around us."
  Avery County, N.C., was hit hard once again by rain storms from Ivan just over a week after Frances dumped heavy rain on the area. Many roadways through Avery County in the towns of Newland, Banner Elk, Elk Park and Linville were closed.
  Asheville, N.C., also felt the wrath of Ivan as portions of Interstates 26 and 40 were closed due to flooding and mudslides. The towns surrounding Asheville -- including Marshall, Mars Hill, Weaverville, Black Mountain and Biltmore Village -- were also hard hit with many roads throughout the area being closed. Many residents in that area were still without electricity or water on Saturday.
  Some residents of Unicoi County were advised to head for higher ground on Friday as the Nolichucky River once again overflowed its banks. On Sept. 8 as the remnants of Hurricane Frances passed through the area, the Nolichucky River crested at approximately 14.9 feet according to the United States Geological Survey.
  The waters of the river had just returned to normal seasonal levels around two feet, according to USGS data, when the flood waters surged down the mountain from North Carolina Friday morning. On Friday afternoon, the USGS reported that the Nolichucky River crested above 15 feet before the waters started to recede. Late Saturday afternoon, the USGS reported that the river had dropped further and was measuring at just above 6 feet.