published Thursday, July 10th, 2014

A year later ... South Pittsburg businesses remember July 10, 2013, flood

Volunteers Skylar Pilgrim, left, and Jennifer Cardin used shovels to help clear mud a year ago in the aftermath of
flash flooding in South Pittsburg, Tenn. Buddy Woods looks on.
Volunteers Skylar Pilgrim, left, and Jennifer Cardin used shovels to help clear mud a year ago in the aftermath of flash flooding in South Pittsburg, Tenn. Buddy Woods looks on.
Photo by John Rawlston /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
  • photo
    Ellen Lambert vacuums water from the South Pittsburg Hammer's store in this photo from 2013, when flooding inundated parts of the Marion County, Tenn., town.
    Photo by John Rawlston.
    enlarge photo

SOUTH PITTSBURG, Tenn. — The sun came up on this date a year ago to very different circumstances.

A night of deluge had brought flash flooding and inundated downtown with water, silt and mud.

There were wide eyes and hung heads.

And lots of questions.

Where do we go from here?

The answers were more muddled when state and federal disaster relief agencies said there wasn't enough damage to elicit aid money, except for a handful of qualified residential needs.

While some businesses have closed, most of the merchants stricken by the flood waters have rebounded.

Jordan Byrum, a stylist at Studio 306 salon, remembers the rising waters from July 10, 2013.

The salon's security cameras recorded the overnight disaster.

"I was kind of heartbroken, honestly, because that's your business, that's your job," she said this week.

Byrum said the devastation of losing her place of work would be, in some ways, worse than losing her home "because this how I have a home to live in."

Alma York echoed the feeling.

She is the do-it-all manager and staff at Vicki's Flowers and Gifts.

"This is where I make my money," she said.

York came in the night of the flood to check on the store. It sits on the river side of Cedar Avenue, the side which took more punishment from flood waters.

  • photo
    Salon equipment was rolled out onto the sidewalk at Studio 306 in downtown South Pittsburg in the wake of flooding last year.
    Photo by John Rawlston /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

She produced photos on her smartphone of the store the way she found it one year ago in the middle of the night.

Her footprints mark the walk she took over mud-covered carpet at Vicki's.

The carpet was ruined.

"I just took a box cutter and cut it off," she said.

Her son and his friend carried out rolls of the soiled flooring just to be helpful, she remembers.

And that's the flip side of the story in town.

Disaster yielded what many call a jaw-dropping display of good will from neighbors, strangers, church groups and nonprofits.

"The whole community did great," said Rob Vinson, who operates Private Logo with his father, Bobby.

He said that by sunset on July 10, a lot of the devastation was already cleared away.

"And we had boulders in the street," he said. "Boulders."

It makes Byrum proud to have seen it and be part of this community.

"It was pretty much like the town came together once again to help each other out," she said. "It is surprising because you think people are so caught up in their own lives."

Salon 306 got help from a local construction crew in moving their things out on the street to dry and in dehyrdating the building's insides. And before the week was out, Byrum said clients were trying to make appointments to keep some revenue coming in.

"I feel like that's how our town is," she said.

Contact staff writer Alex Green at or 423-757-6480.

Photo galleries from July 2013:

about Alex Green...

Alex Green joined the Times Free Press staff full-time in January 2014 after completing the paper's six-month, general assignment reporter internship. Alex grew up in Dayton, Tenn., which is also where he studied journalism at Bryan College. He graduated from Rhea County High School in 2008. During college, Alex covered the city of Graysville and the town of Spring City for The Herald-News. As editor-in-chief of Bryan College's student news group, Triangle, Alex reported on ...

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