Homes flooded; power cut

Homes flooded; power cut

December 10th, 2009 by Yolanda Putman, Randall Higgins, Joy Lukachick Smith and Kevin Hardy in News

Staff Photo by Allison Kwesell Ernie Young, left, and Betty Paris, both volunteers with the Red Cross, talk to Mesha Smith about the flood damage in her apartment at Winston Properties in Hixson. Ms. Smith said water started coming into the ground floor of her apartment at around 10 p.m. on Tuesday.

Staff Photo by Allison Kwesell Ernie Young, left, and...

Mesha Smith woke up Tuesday night to the rain pounding on her roof and her next door neighbor beating on the door.

When the Hixson resident opened her door, several inches of water poured into her apartment. Water got so deep, her dogs and cats "were actually swimming on the floor," she said.

For the second time since September, Red Cross officials on Wednesday assessed damage from flooding in the Chattanooga region. The heavy wind and rain that washed through Chattanooga Tuesday night and Wednesday morning downed trees and utility lines, leaving some residents in Hamilton County and nearby areas with flood-damaged homes -- again.

On Wednesday morning, Red Cross workers inspected an apartment complex on Chen Lane in Hixson, finding five units with damage similar to Ms. Smith's.

"(We're) checking to see if people need a place to stay tonight," said Ernie Young, a Red Cross disaster volunteer.

Mr. Young and volunteer Betty Paris wrote down flood victims' names and handed out care packets.

The heaviest rain in the state fell in Hamilton County, soaking the ground with more than four inches, according forecaster Terry Getz at the National Weather Service in Morristown, Tenn.

The forecast does not predict rain again until Saturday, Mr. Getz said.

"The worst is over," he said.

EPB spokeswoman Lacie Newton said homes and businesses across the region experienced power outages from Tuesday night's storms.

"When we see big winds like this, we have a lot of limbs falling on lines," she said. "We have a lot of outages that kind of spread out across our service area."

About 4,600 customers -- in Hixson, North Chattanooga, Soddy-Daisy, Sale Creek, North Georgia and Lookout and Signal Mountains -- were without power at 2 p.m. Wednesday, she said. By 5 p.m., about 2,400 customers still had no power, but it was expected to be restored by today, Ms. Newton said.

Several creeks and rivers in Hamilton and Marion County overflowed, including South Chickamauga Creek and Sequatchie River, which were at flood stages, Mr. Getz said.

John Graham, Marion County roads superintendent, said the county experienced extensive flooding Tuesday evening from the rising Sequatchie River.

"It's the most widespread one we've had in years," he said. "A lot of times when we have heavy rains, it will only affect one particular cove or one particular area of the county. But this has been county-wide."

Mr. Graham said about eight roads were closed Tuesday evening and Wednesday. No injuries were reported, but many homes and businesses sustained water damage from the rising waters, he said.

In Bradley County, several roads were covered with water Wednesday morning, said Matthew Casson, administrative assistant for the county's Emergency Management office. Some downed trees and utility lines were reported in several spots of the county, but no injuries or structural damage was reported.

Chattanooga's Churchville neighborhood also experienced flooding Wednesday.

The water in Dorothy Billings' yard was so high Wednesday that it came over the top of her calf-high boots and flooded underneath her home.

When Ms. Billings bought her home on the 1900 block of Robbins Street a month ago, contractors told her if she didn't stop the water from getting under her house, it would probably start to mildew in a couple of months, she said.

"I hope there's no contamination," she said.

The Chattanooga City Engineer's office said late Wednesday that two roads remained impassable because of water.

Lower Mill Road, between Middle Valley Road and Olde Mill Road; and Boy Scout Road, between Echo Glen Road and Moses Road, remained closed overnight.