Heavy rain prompts flood of concerns

Scenes like this picture of a flooded Glenlock Road near Sweetwater were common all over Monroe County on Saturday after heavy rain fell on already-saturated ground. No injuries or widespread major damage were reported, but travel was difficult in many areas.

A deluge of rain struck Monroe County on Saturday but the county was spared the worst flooding that ravaged nearby counties, such as Knox County.

Saturday’s torrents of rain, more than 3 inches in the northern part of the county, came on the heels of what had already been a very wet week. The heavy rain quickly caused flooding in numerous locations and made some roads impassable throughout the county.

Sitting in the heart of a valley with a large creek running through the city, Sweetwater can often get the worst of any local flooding. During Monday’s regular monthly workshop, Mayor Doyle Lowe praised city departments for their work over the weekend blocking off roads when needed and keep residents safe. He praised Police Chief Eddie Byrum for keeping city leaders informed. The mayor was thankful the city was spared the worst of Saturday’s rain deluge.

“It could have been bad,” he said.

An early morning shot of rain from thundershowers on Sunday pushed the rain total to around 4 inches for the weekend and about 8 inches since Saturday, Feb. 16, in some locations. The week of rain had already forced both the county and city school systems to close Thursday and Friday but classes resumed a normal schedule on Monday.

Rainfall totals for some parts of the county have exceeded a foot for the month of February and much of the state has seen at least a foot of rain this month. That has prompted mud, land and rock slides in several areas across the state, and the flooding caused at least two fatalities statewide. One death came after a road collapse in Hawkins County and a man drowned in Knoxville after authorities said he drove his vehicle into high water this past weekend.

Gov. Bill Lee on Saturday declared a Level 3 State of Emergency for the state.

At this level, a serious emergency or minor disaster has occurred or a situation is deteriorating rapidly and public warnings are being issued, state officials said. The Tennessee Emergency Management Plan (TEMP) is activated and a state of emergency is automatically declared per TCA 58-2-107. Key or specifically needed emergency service coordinators for state departments are recalled to duty at the State’s Emergency Operations Center.

After a couple of dry days, more rain and perhaps even thundershowers are expected for the end of this week, but not to the level seen this past weekend. Don’t put away your winter clothes just yet as forecasters say next week will start of well below normal when it comes to temperatures.

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