Updated at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018, with comment from Chuck Fleischmann. ___ Kenna Harrison provided the Facebook video on Scarlett Duke's Facebook page.
Flood waters raging through Soddy-Daisy on Wednesday killed a woman and forced dozens of other people from their homes as a record-setting onslaught of rain continued to pummel the tri-state area this week.
Thursday morning's forecast calls for more heavy rain to arrive around rush hour, with accumulations that could threaten rainfall records. Hamilton County Schools announced Wednesday night that classes would be canceled Thursday, and Walker County Schools in Georgia are on a two-hour delay.
"Not all school areas will be significantly impacted by rain and high water, but there are too many issues with roads in the community and conditions around schools in the north section of Hamilton County to have school on Thursday," reads a release from schools spokesman Tim Hensley.
In Hamilton County, Soddy-Daisy was particularly hard-hit Wednesday.
Fleischmann response to flooding
"Tonight I ask that you join me in praying for the people of East Tennessee as their homes and lives are being threatened by catastrophic flooding. My heart is with the loved ones of the individual who lost their life and with all those who are seeking shelter. I am incredibly thankful for law enforcement, first responders, firefighters, and all emergency personnel that are risking their lives to save those in danger."
- Congressman Chuck Fleischmann (TN-03)
The victim, whose name had not been released late Wednesday, lived on Durham Street on the north end of the town of a little more than 13,000. Soddy-Daisy Police Capt. Jeff Gann said the death was believed to be a drowning directly related to flooding. The neighborhood consisting of dozens of homes on Durham Street lies along Little Soddy Creek, which flows down from Walden's Ridge, west of town, to the Tennessee River.
Emergency officials in the area on Wednesday spent the day checking on residents and rescuing those trapped by rising waters. That was a story duplicated across the region in the wake of the rain system that on Wednesday stretched from the Gulf coast of Louisiana to the New England states.
Good Samaritans were indispensable.
An 11-year-old boy was rescued from a culvert on Coffelt Road after being caught up in rushing water, according to the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office. The child was uninjured, according to a post on the department's Facebook page.
A neighbor heard the boy scream and helped keep the child's head above water until deputies arrived and freed him. Medical officials were called to check the child out.
Hamilton County Emergency Management Agency officials opened a command post at Dallas Bay Volunteer Fire Department Station 2 to support flooding victims and rescue efforts that were underway in the Dallas Bay and Soddy-Daisy area, spokeswoman Amy Maxwell said in a statement issued Wednesday afternoon.
The American Red Cross opened two shelters to assist flood victims in the Soddy-Daisy area; one at the Oak Street Baptist Church at 11340 N. Oak St., and Daisy First Baptist Church at 10185 Dayton Pike. Later in the day Wednesday the Red Cross opened a shelter in Hixson at Trinity Lutheran Church, 5001 Hixson Pike.
Those locations in Soddy-Daisy are on higher ground than Durham Street, where resident Kenna Harrison said she has never seen such flooding.
"I was just amazed that usually when we have floods we don't usually have standing water," said Harrison, 32, who was at home Wednesday with her newborn son waiting for her husband to return home from a business trip.
"So I was taking some photos and videos and then the next thing I know it was just pouring down the street and I was watching across the street, the church and their little chain-link fence, and it was just ripping it apart," she said. "Just watching that water come down, it was crazy to say the least."
Harrison shot video of the rising water flowing past.
"Trash cans and trash kept coming, and it was just getting browner and browner and higher and higher," said Harrison, who'd made it to her mother-in-law's home in Hixson when interviewed by phone. She was worried about an expected "second wave" of heavy rain and wanted to stay in a safe place till the skies brighten, she said.
Harrison said she knew of the death from flooding on her street but didn't know the victim.
The new mother isn't so worried about her home as she was just glad to be on high ground.
"We'll worry about all that stuff later," she said. "That stuff is replaceable, and people are not."
Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger said he toured the worst-hit areas in Soddy-Daisy with Mayor Robert Cothran and Commissioner Rick Nunley. He said the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency will visit to evaluate the damage and see if anywhere in the county would be eligible for financial support "to bring some normalcy back to the community."
"I applaud the city of Soddy-Daisy's response to this catastrophic event that took the life of an individual," Coppinger said. "All of the citizens of Hamilton County mourn with the family that lost a loved one in this weather event."
The lingering rain caused widespread flooding, school delays and cancellations, and officials throughout the area who weren't looking for stranded storm victims spent the day repairing power lines, removing downed trees and working to clear blocked roads.
Portions of the Tennessee Riverwalk in downtown Chattanooga were closed.
Hamilton County schools first were delayed an hour, then canceled by 11 a.m. Law enforcement, in addition to working traffic accidents and the like, found themselves handling the traffic snarls as parents and school buses converged on local schools.
The deluge was unusual in that it centered on northern Hamilton County, while areas in surrounding counties that usually flood were spared.
Emergency managers throughout the region reported some water across roads but no major problems or property damage. However, with more rain expected to fall on saturated ground and swollen creeks, they're staying on the alert.
"If we just have showers, we don't have many issues, but if we get an hour, hour and a half of heavy rain, we're going to have problems. A lot of our creeks are pretty full," said Jacky Reavley, emergency management director for Rhea County.
WRCB meteorologist Brittany Beggs said rainfall totals for Thursday could be an inch or more and could even threaten the record of 1.7 inches for Sept. 27.
"We've had over 5 inches of rain in the past 48 hours," Beggs said about 3:15 p.m. Wednesday.
Precipitation totals for Chattanooga for the week started out with a record-breaking 3.41 inches on Monday, followed by a half inch on Tuesday, then another inch or so on Wednesday that brought the tally for September to more than 6 inches, she said.
That's 2 inches above normal "and September's not even over yet," Beggs said. "We haven't had above-normal rainfall in September since 2012."
Between Wednesday night and Thursday night, another 2 inches could fall, she said.
"Luckily, it looks like Friday there'll be just a few isolated showers, then we dry out this weekend," Beggs said.
Flood warnings were issued throughout the region Wednesday morning, and a flood watch issued by the National Weather Service in Morristown stands until at least 8 p.m. Thursday. The watch includes East Tennessee counties from Knoxville south to the Georgia state line and west to the Cumberland Plateau, weather service officials said.
Flood watches also stand in Middle Tennessee and Northeast Alabama, according to weather service officials in Huntsville.
By midday Wednesday, the days of accumulating rain began changing a few record books in Chattanooga.
Richard Garuckas, weather service meteorologist in Morristown, Tennessee, said rainfall accumulations in Chattanooga from Sept. 19 to Sept. 25 are the third-highest ever observed for that week in any year. Chattanooga got 7.38 inches from Sept. 19-25, 2009, and 4.72 inches Sept. 19-25, 1975, he said.
Garuckas said the Chattanooga area has accumulated 45.09 inches of rain since Jan. 1, making the year the 31st wettest for the first 268 days of the year. The wettest Jan. 1 to September 25 period ever in Chattanooga was in 1994 when the year-to-date total was 60.74 inches, he said.
Up to 8 inches of rain has fallen near Decatur, Tennessee, over the past couple of days, causing localized flooding and swelling Chickamauga Lake to a half foot above its normal summertime pool, the Tennessee Valley Authority said Wednesday.
James Everett, senior manager of TVA's River Forecast Center in Knoxville, said the short, heavy bursts created a lot of runoff and some localized flooding.
"We're spilling water at most of our mainstream dams, but we're still seeing very high lake levels at Chickamauga and Watts Bar," Everett said.
TVA has cut off most of the flow from major reservoirs at Norris, Cherokee, Douglas and elsewhere in eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina to limit flooding problems downstream.
"As rainfall continues tonight and through tomorrow — and perhaps lingering into Friday and this weekend — we'll remain on high alert," Everett said. "We're not showing any water levels above flood stage at any location on the Tennessee River, although we may get close to flood stage at places downstream like in Savannah."
Everett urged lake users to be cautious and said some lakefront property owners should be prepared for higher lake levels.
He said TVA has talked with organizers of the Little Debbie Ironman Chattanooga triathlon scheduled for Sunday. Continued spillage through Chickamauga Dam could affect the swimming portion of the event.
Water flow through the Chickamauga Lock on Wednesday was 78,000 cubic feet per second. That's significantly above the 46,000 cubic feet per second flowing through the hydroelectric turbines at the Chickamauga Dam but below the 85,000 amount that would restrict navigation on the Tennessee River.
Staff writers Rosana Hughes, Mark Pace, Judy Walton and Dave Flessner contributed to this story.
Contact staff writer Ben Benton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton or at www.facebook.com/benbenton1.
Roads closed in Hamilton County
- 8700 Block Hixson Pike - Tree down
- Hixson Pike/Warwickshire Drive - Tree down
- 9200 Hixson Pike Flooding
- Boy Scout Road/Echo Glen Drive - Flooding
- 7600 Hixson Pike - Flooding
- 9200 Dallas Hollow Road - Flooding
- Dolly Pond Road - Flooding
- 7800 Gann Road - Flooding
- 1400 Yogi Lane - Flooding
- 350 Memorial Drive - Tree down
- 8942 Harrison Bay Road - Tree down/Wires
- Dolly Pond/Gamble Road - Flooding
- Middle Valley/Gann Road - Flooding
- Middle Valley Road/Thrasher Pike - Flooding
- 9017 Dallas Hollow Road - Tree down
- 8333 Middle Valley Road - Tree down
- 8300 Middle Valley Road - Flooding
- Hamby Rd/Hixson Pike - Flooding
- 13318 Birchwood Pike - Wires
- 2817 Haywood Avenue - Wires
- 700 E. 11th Street - Flooding
- Dodson Avenue/Infantry Road - Flooding
- Lake Resort Drive/Lake Resort Terrace - Tree down
- 300 Memorial Drive - Flooding
- Dowlen Road - Tree down
- 3057 Lee Pike - Wires
- 12500 Birchwood Pike - Flooding
- Birchwood Pike/Sam Smith Road - Flooding
- Daugherty Ferry Road/Dayton Pike - Tree down
- 1701 Varner Road - Flooding
- 9045 Dallas Hollow Road - Flooding
- 6100 Highway 60 - Flooding
- 2700 Hixson Pike - Flooding
- Fair Oaks Road/Middle Valley Road - Tree down
- 6500 Queensbury Lane - Flooding
- 1321 Lovelady Lewis Road - Tree down
- Dallas Hollow Road/E. Ridge Trail - Tree down
- Shirley Pond Road/ Poplar Bend Drive - Tree down
- 5420 Mountain Creek Road - Tree down
- Hixson Pk./ Hunt Lane - Tree down
- 8920 Wellthor Circle - Wires
- 9900 Smith Morgan Lane - Tree down
- Dallas Hollow Road/Hixson Pike - Tree down
- 7100 Sims Road/Sims-Harris Road - Tree down
- 11930 Thatch Road/Oak Drive - Tree down
- 2900 Igou Ferry Road/Corbett Drive - Tree down
- 2418 Big Cedar Road/Hixson Pike - Tree down
- 8338 Middle Valley Road/Crabtree - Tree down
- 4413 Paula Lane/Ely Road - Wires down
- 1320 Vanessa Drive/Aletha Drive - Tree down
- 9500 Birchwood Pike/Harrison Bay Road - Tree down
- 8678 Bramlett Road/Watkins Road - Flooding