County still reeling from flood

By Abby Morris
Star Staff

     As the sun rose Thursday morning, residents of Carter County began returning order to their lives following devastating floods Wednesday that left homes and property damaged across the county. The flood also claimed the life of an Elizabethton man.
    Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency investigators positively identified Chad Emmett Boster, 25, of 1405 Garden Rd. Wednesday night. Boster decided to brave floodwaters of the Watauga River with two friends in a canoe earlier that day. Eyewitnesses reported the three men began their journey near Blue Springs Road in the Stoney Creek community.
    Boster's two male companions were Kyle Langworthy, of Watauga, and Leslie Clendenin. The ages and addresses of the two men were not available Thursday.
    According to Carter County Rescue Squad Director Terry Arnold, Langworthy and Clendenin were rescued by members of the CCRS Swift Water Rescue Team after they pulled themselves onto a makeshift island of debris that had floated down the river. They were treated on the scene by emergency workers but refused to be transported to a local hospital, according to Arnold.
    Boster sank underwater when the canoe flipped and became trapped between the canoe, logs and floating debris.
    Emergency personnel attempted rescue efforts from the time of the boating accident around noon Wednesday until darkness fell but were unable to recover the body. "He went in and everything just kept piling on top of him," Arnold said.
    Recovery efforts continued Thursday morning and workers removed the body from the water around 9:30 a.m.. Members of the CCRS Swift Water Rescue Team removed debris that had trapped Boster and spent more than an hour trying to free his body. Rescuers had to use a chainsaw in order to remove large logs - some of which measured up to 15 inches in diameter.
   Emergency workers then wrapped the body in a sheet before transporting it across the river to be examined by TWRA agents and Carter County Coroner Johnny Miller. Rescuers said a prayer over Boster's body after bringing him ashore.
    Meanwhile, residents across the county surveyed the damage that receding waters left behind.
    According to Elizabethton-Carter County Emergency Management Agency Director Ernest Jackson, he and other emergency agencies such as the American Red Cross conducted damage estimates.
    The communities of Valley Forge and Hampton seemed to be hit the hardest by floodwater damage. Residents on Swimming Pool Road saw Laurel Fork Creek overflow into their yards and onto the roadway. At times, water on Swimming Pool Road was approximately one-foot deep.
    Residents have been asked to contact the Elizabethton-Carter County EMA office if their residence or property was damaged as a result of the flood. "We have had about a dozen or so call in who have had some major damage concerns," Jackson said on Thursday afternoon. "Right now it seems mostly like minor things like floodwater damage and basement damage."
    According to Jackson, at least two houses sustained severe property damage and property loss - one in Hampton and one in Valley Forge.
    Area roads and private bridges also remained washed out. In the Stoney Creek community, U.S. Highway 91 at the intersection of George Bowers Road was closed from Wednesday morning until the very early morning hours on Thursday due to the amount of water that poured into the road from an overflowing creek.
    Area residents who have not called the Elizabethton-Carter County EMA office to report property or residential damage can contact the office at 542-1888 and give their name, street address and a brief description of the damage.