published Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

How high's is the water rising?

More area rivers expected to crest above flood levels


by Adam Crisp

As Nashville flailed in its highest floodwaters in 50 years, Chattanooga's most flood-prone areas buckled down this weekend for a similar onslaught of heavy rain and torrential storms -- but this area and North Georgia escaped unscathed.

"We were notified that we had a potentially dangerous weather situation coming," said East Ridge police spokesman Officer Erik Hopkins. "We were ready because these areas in East Ridge are so prone to flooding."

City leaders had a fleet of rescue boats and emergency personnel at the ready, but when just 2 1/2 inches fell over the weekend, the area ended up with swollen creeks and light flooding. No water entered homes, traffic was briefly interrupted and even the high creeks and patches of standing water were expected to be gone by Friday.

A few miles away, Kim Geselbracht stood on his back porch at Battlefield Golf Course in Ringgold, Ga., pointing to a pond of water that had gathered between the Nos. 10 and 11 holes.

"If it rains hard for more than two days, this is going to happen," he said.

South Chickamauga Creek, which flows through East Ridge, was swollen but not at a dangerous level, officials said. South Chickamauga was predicted to be just above flood stage this morning, but predictions were downgraded and the creek remained mostly inside its banks at 16 feet. Flood stage is 18 feet, according to the National Weather Service.

  • photo
    Staff Photo by Patrick Smith/Chattanooga Times Free Press Water sits on Battlefield Golf Club in Ringgold, Ga., on Monday. While some Tennesseans experienced the worst flooding in 50 years, Chattanooga area residents remained mostly unaffected, with the South Chickamauga Creek expected to crest at 2 a.m. Tuesday.

West Chickamauga Creek, which also runs through East Ridge, was at about 9 feet Monday afternoon, 2 feet below flood stage, while Lookout Creek, near the Chattanooga Nature Center, was about 13 feet, a foot above flood stage, the Weather Service reported.

Though the storm only grazed the Tennessee Valley, the Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for all of North Georgia. But emergency management workers in most Northwest Georgia counties didn't think flooding was imminent because the storm moved much farther south.

Four inches of rain was predicted for Northwest Georgia, compared with the 10 inches of rain that pummeled the region in September, when 500 individuals were flooded out of their homes.

Nashville floods

That dims in comparison to devastation in Nashville and other parts of the state. Tennessee Emergency Management officials on Monday confirmed 16 deaths in the state. One of those was caused by a lightning strike, TEMA announced.

The Music City came to a virtual standstill Monday as about 13 inches of rain fell and the Cumberland River rose more than 12 feet above its banks. State government was closed in Nashville and the Legislature did not meet.

The Gaylord Opryland Hotel's picture-perfect garden atriums were spoiled with more than 10 feet of murky-brown river water, according to The Tennessean newspaper. About 1,500 guests of the hotel spent the night at a high school to escape the flooding.

The nearby Grand Ole Opry House also had water inside, reports say.

About 600 vacationers at the Wyndham Resort were trapped by the rising Cumberland River on Monday and many had to wade waist-deep into murky floodwaters to reach waiting rescue boats.

Water covered the playing surface at LP Field, where the Tennessee Titans play next to the Cumberland River.

While a portion of the Country Music Hall of Fame was underwater, The Associated Press reported that the original Ryman Auditorium on Broadway and the nearby music district were dry.

At least six volunteers were sent to Nashville from the Chattanooga Red Cross chapter to assist and more could be sent as residents return and the recovery effort begins.

  • photo
    Staff Photo by Patrick Smith/Chattanooga Times Free Press A marsh area near the intersection of West and South Chickamauga Creeks, overflows onto a walkway leading from Camp Jordan to Brainerd. While areas of Middle Tennessee experienced the worst flooding in 50 years, Chattanooga area residents remained mostly unaffected, with the South Chickamauga Creek expected to crest at 2 a.m. Tuesday.

"I'm going to go and offer mass care, help to the largest number of people as possible," said John Hitchens, the emergency services director for the Chattanooga Red Cross chapter. "We'll also take some nurses and some people that can help with mental health and logistics. Eventually we'll shift from mass care to offering damage assessment and distributing clean-up materials."

STATE DEATHS

There have been 14 confirmed fatalities in Tennessee. One was tornado-related and the rest water-related deaths.

* Davidson County: 6

* Perry County: 2

* Stewart County: 2

* Carroll County: 1

* Williamson County: 1

* Hickman County: 1

* Hardeman County: 1 (tornado)

Source: Tennessee Emergency Management Agency

RIVER LEVELS

Cumberland River

The National Weather Service predicted the river to crest at 62 feet in Clarksville between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. today.

South Chickamauga Creek

South Chickamauga Creek was predicted to reach flood stage -- 18 feet -- early this morning, but now the National Weather Service shows the creek cresting at 16 feet around 6 a.m., then slowly falling. The smaller West Chickamauga Creek was at nine feet Monday evening with flood stage at 11 feet, but forecast data was not available.

Source: National Weather Service

Continue reading by following these links to related stories:

Watch out for flooding

6 killed in heavy flooding, storms across Tennessee

about Adam Crisp...

Adam Crisp covers education issues for the Times Free Press. He joined the paper's staff in 2007 and initially covered crime, public safety, courts and general assignment topics. Prior to Chattanooga, Crisp was a crime reporter at the Savannah Morning News and has been a reporter and editor at community newspapers in southeast Georgia. In college, he led his student paper to a first-place general excellence award from the Georgia College Press Association. He earned ...

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Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
Vandy said...

State government was closed in Nashville and the Legislature did not meet. There is a silver lining for most of us.

May 4, 2010 at 9:16 p.m.
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