Once again Mother Nature released her fury as heavy rains and lightning pounded Macon County over the weekend, sending law enforcement agencies, rescue squads and medical personnel scrambling to save lives and protect people from the rising water.
The line of heavy rain was relentless, reminding many folks of the Red Boiling Springs Flood in 1969, that still remains a topic of discussion 40 years later.
Forecasters said repeatedly that we were in store for a round of heavy rain accompanied by severe lightning, with the National Weather Service predicting flash floods moving through the Tennessee area on Saturday, May 1, and into Sunday.
The extraordinary amounts of rainfall soon began flooding the streets, overflowing the creek banks and the low lying areas were turned into lakes, as many residents were caught off guard and rescue units were dispatched by foot, boats, canoes or whatever was available at the time. As the downpours intensified, first responders from all lines of emergency services including law enforcement, fire departments and rescue squads were out in full force with a shelter established at the National Guard Armory. Homes were flooded and evacuated, livestock was lost, roads and bridges were virtually destroyed, and businesses sustained damage, but by the grace of God no lives were lost.
It was a hard decision to make when evacuating The Palace Care & Rehab, but after carefully assessing the situation Administrator Rite Crabtree implemented the emergency plan and immediately began moving residents to area hospitals and the National Guard Armory while members of the staff were dispatched to care for their patients and residents.
“I am happy to say that once again the facility was not flooded,” said Crabtree, “and because the medical needs of our patients are more complex, we felt it necessary to make the move. I am humbled by the outpouring of community support and it is human nature to look for the good in such situations.”
“The community really pulled together once again,” said Macon County Emergency Management Director Keith Scruggs, “and this confirms what I said after the tornado, when we need help, people in Macon County immediately respond. For the first time in the Upper Cumberland region, we activated the EOC (Emergency Operation Center) from noon till 7:00 a.m. on Monday, to cope with all the emergencies when various agencies are overwhelmed and I’m proud to say it definitely relieved some of the pressure for those on the front line.”
“There are approximately 35 roads closed as of Monday,” said Regina Flippin, of the Macon County Highway Department, “and we are definitely expecting more. Several bridges have washed away, hundreds of culverts are gone and it could possibly be months before some of the roads are even open.”
“If you see a road that is barricaded or closed, please do not even attempt to travel on it, because it is unsafe,” Regina continued. “Even though the surface of the road might look okay, the underlining road bed may not be stable. The conditions are really bad, actually worse than the general public realizes with damages estimated in the millions. If there is any kind of situation with the roads, please let us know, because the more information we have the quicker they can be assessed and decisions can be made on repair.
“We are looking for VOLUNTEERS with heavy equipment, including dump trucks to aid in the repair of all county roads. We are working extended hours, and we will be in the office from 5:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. each night, so please contact us at 615-666-3910 or stop by the office at 884 Old Highway 52, near the airport.”
Skies remained cloudy through Sunday night and the National Weather Service said up to 14 inches of rain had fallen over the weekend, but luckily no lives were lost and only minor injuries were reported. As far as school goes, officials are still assessing the conditions for safe travel.