Emergency crews work the scene after an overnight mudslide destroyed a Subway restaurant on Signal Mountain Road on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019, in Chattanooga, Tenn. Subway manager Robbie Anderson said that the restaurant had closed at about 2:00 on Friday for safety after two trees fell from the hillside.

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Flooding emergency

The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) has declared a state of emergency in response to the ongoing rising floodwaters and potential for further severe weather this evening.

"Our departments and agencies are monitoring the ongoing weather developments in our state and they are coordinating to be fully prepared," reads a Saturday afternoon release from Gov. Bill Lee.

TEMA is working with state and local officials through the State Emergency Operations Center in Nashville to monitor the weather situation, stay in touch with key information sources such as the National Weather Service, and U.S. Army Corp. of Engineers to address any local need requests, the release states.

As a result of the emergency declaration, Lee has cut short a National Governor's Association trip to Washington, D.C., to better monitor the situation.

"Everyone should pay close attention to weather forecasts today and have multiple ways to receive weather watches and warnings," reads a statement from TEMA Director Patrick Sheehan. "Those who may have experienced any storm or flooding damage already should contact their county emergency management agencies to report issues, contact their insurance agencies, and keep track of any repairs they make."

A cold front making its way through west Tennessee Saturday was expected to bring with it the chance of thunderstorms, damaging winds and the possibility of tornadoes. Flooding was expected to continue to pose a threat, with flood warnings to remain in place across the state through the weekend.

"An additional concern will be the toppling of trees due to wind and saturated soil," the release states.

Other flood response preparations being made across the state include:

  • The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is coordinating among state, local, and industry resources to identify immediate emergency agricultural and livestock needs and will work with the USDA to assess farm damages in the coming weeks.
  • The Tennessee National Guard has readied aviation and boat resources for response and has sandbagging equipment and troops and airmen available to help if needed.
  • The Fire Marshall's Office and the Tennessee Fire Chiefs Mutual Aid System are coordinating potential mutual aid requests and readying swift-water rescue teams for potential deployment.
  • TDEC is communicating with water and wastewater systems to ensure infrastructure is not impacted or damaged.
  • USACE and the Tennessee Valley Authority are communicating the status of their dam projects and storage and flows along the rivers and tributaries to TEMA, and USACE Nashville has activated their flood monitoring unit and is actively working to ensure the best balance for safeguarding infrastructure, property and materials.