published Thursday, September 8th, 2011

Flood damage might have been worse

As alarming as the massive rainfall of the past few days was, what is perhaps more incredible is that it did not cause more harm than it did.

The Chattanooga area got about 10 inches of rain in a short period of time, compared with nearly 13 inches in Charleston, Tenn., and about 8 inches in Athens, Tenn.

After record dryness in August, many in our area had been praying for rain -- and we certainly got it.

To be sure, the fast rainfall, part of a tropical storm system, caused its share of damage and at least one tragedy. A local death was attributed to the weather, when a falling tree struck a Chattanooga woman Monday.

Meanwhile, thousands temporarily lost power, trees lay across roads in various areas, and homes and cars were damaged.

But ironically, the extreme heat and dryness that preceded the rain kept the water from doing far more damage.

The amount of rain was "unbelievable," WRCB-TV Channel 3 chief meteorologist Paul Barys said, but "the ground was like a sponge." Much of the water sank into the ground rather than worsening the flooding that the rain caused.

We lament the tragic loss of life and the property damage. But we are grateful that the flooding was not far worse.

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