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Public Notices

April 18, 2014

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Storm Wallops Southern Greene County And Nearby Madison County, N. Carolina

Sun Photos by Jayson Zaborowski (top) and Jody Snyder

In the top photo, the rain-swollen waters of Little Laurel Creek completely washed away the recently renovated Brigman Chapel Church, near North Carolina Route 208, Tuesday night. Church members told The Greeneville Sun this morning that the church had already been washed away when they arrived just after midnight. The church site is about two miles from the Tennessee/North Carolina line, on the right. This photo was taken from the highway. in the bottom photo, less than a foot of water is shown running across Garrett Hill Road this morning near its intersection with Dodd Branch Road in southern Greene County. In general, flooding was much less severe in Greene County than in neighboring Madison County, N.C.

Originally published:
Last modified: 2009-03-26 17:25:06

Clean-up began this morning in southern Greene County and across the state line in North Carolina from flooding caused by torrential rains that fell during an overnight thunderstorm.

The worst reports of flooding and damage are from Madison County, N.C., where Brigman Chapel Church was washed away, and much of N.C. Highway 208 for five miles past the Tennessee state line was covered with water, according to the Madison County Sheriff's Department.

Crews from the Greene County Highway Department have been out since early morning to repair washed-out roads in the southern end of the county. Bill Brown, a supervisor with the department, said late this morning that Lower Paint Creek Road was still closed. Garrett Hill Road was closed during the night because of high water but reopened early this morning.

The damage from the rain has primarily been from the Nolichucky River to the North Carolina line, said Brown.
The worst flooding, including sections of road overrun by water, were in the Cedar Creek and Lower Paint Creek areas of Greene County, he said.

Graders and rock trucks were out today as crews worked to clear mud and rocks that have been washed out into roadways, and to repair gullies in gravel roads, Brown said.

In North Carolina, Highway 208 and a section of Highway 212 have been closed due to the flooding, according to the Madison County Sheriff's Department.

"It's pretty massive," Deputy Bradley Griffin said of the flooding this morning.

Traffic this morning was being detoured around Houston Valley Road from the Asheville Highway temporarily over to Highway 25/70 in Cocke County and then over to Interstate 40, according to the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

A rock slide on Highway 25/70 near the Cocke County-North Carolina line blocked the route to Hot Springs, N.C., requiring traffic to be detoured over to Interstate 40, said Jim Saulsbury, TDOT highway maintenance supervisor of District 12, which includes Greene County.

The state had been contacted about the situation by Ray Crum, Greene County Emergency Management Agency director, who is helping coordinate the efforts between authorities in Tennessee and North Carolina, he said.

Saulsbury said he had taken a lady who had car trouble back home about two miles inside North Carolina before daylight. The area was littered with logs and debris, he said. "It looked terrible."

The high water had begun to recede by mid-morning in Madison County, said Deputy Griffin.

Griffin said there were reports that six inches of rain had fallen in sections of Madison County in the period of about one hour, between 12:30 and 1:30 a.m.

The National Weather Service in Morristown said that, while it did not have specific information for Greene County yet this morning, 2.45 inches of rain had been recorded in Knoxville from the same storm system.

Jesse Gosnell, who lives on Viking Mountain Road, said he recorded five inches of rainfall in his rain gauge Tuesday night, and noted that his basement was flooded as a result.

Gosnell said he had never before experienced lightning as intense as that which accompanied the Tuesday night storm on Viking Mountain.

Outside of its southern end, most of Greene County received only a trace of rain, if any, but lightning flashes were intense across the county.

North Carolina Damage

Two bridges along N.C. Hwy. 208 were washed away by the flooding, and numerous private bridges were washed away, said Deputy Griffin.

No injuries due to the flooding have been reported, and there have been no reports of people missing, but property damage is widespread in some areas, Griffin said.

The floods swept away Brigman Church, and a Madison County sheriff's deputy almost witnessed that event, Griffin said. The deputy had driven by the church at around 1 a.m., and water had risen to its steps, he said.

Griffin said that, driving farther up the highway, the deputy began to be caught by rising waters on both sides of the road and turned around. By the time he got back down to the area of the church, it had been washed away.

Mary Thomas, who lives with her husband, Wyman, on N.C. Highway 208 about five miles from the Tennessee state line, said she learned around 1 a.m. that the church had been destroyed by flooding along Little Laurel Creek.

A neighbor heard about flooding along the creek from listening to a police scanner and discovered that the church was gone when he came to investigate, she said.

Thomas said the church had been located along Little Laurel Creek for 55 years and had been moved there from another location where it had stood for 27 years before that.

"It's all gone," she said. "They didn't find anything but little pieces."

The only recognizable piece of the church, she said, was its carpet, found along a roadway that flood waters also had undermined below the former site of the church.

This morning, debris from the church and other sources was lodged against a bridge on Highway 208 downstream from where the church had stood, said Thomas.

She noted that she and her husband didn't hear the church wash away. "It was thundering so loud you couldn't hear anything," she said. Thomas also noted that she has lived in her present home since 1968 and had never seen such severe flooding in that area.

Traffic Re-Routed

The North Carolina Department of Transportation has begun assessment of the damage from the flooding, Deputy Griffin said.

Griffin said the North Carolina authorities appreciate the cooperation given to them by Tennessee officials in closing Highway 70 to all but local traffic, and detouring the traffic around the flooding.

Saulsbury said that a Tennessee DOT crew was called to the state line at about 4 a.m., and has allowed only local traffic beyond that point.

If the North Carolina DOT closes Highway 208 for extensive repairs, traffic will be routed over Highway 321 in Greene County rather than on Houston Valley Road, Saulsbury said. Traffic would be routed along Highway 321 through Greene and Cocke counties over to Interstate 40.

Staff Writer Bill Jones also contributed to this story.
For more information and stories, see The Greeneville Sun.

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