Tuesday, May 04, 2010

More on flooding in Hickman and Lewis Counties

Yesterday was a sunny, mild day in Tennessee, which allowed people to get started on cleanup and repair after the unprecedented rains and flooding over the weekend. The small streams have mostly fallen back below flood levels, but the larger rivers are only now passing their crests and inundation around them remains extensive. Large areas in downtown and metro Nashville remain submerged.

Around our place in Lewis County, I found an unfortunate flood victim in the middle of our yard, doubtless a casualty of stranding when the waters receded (click any image for a larger version):

These next two shots show how the stream channels realigned themselves in just a few hours, sometimes by as much as several meters. You can see how one bank has been eroded away, leaving undercut steep bluffs, while a gravel bar has accreted on the other bank. There are so many of these changes around our place that it is taking me a while to find old landmarks:

Over the next few months the vegetation will begin stabilizing these new banks, the beavers will rebuild their dams in new locations, and the landscape will settle in to a new normal until the next gullywasher comes along.

A mile down our road is a typical scene:

Before the county road crews barricaded it, people were still driving over this bridge as it was their only way out. Many people remain stranded behind scenes like this. It was this possibility more than anything else that lead us to evacuate our place rather than risk being trapped for a week.

From home we headed north on Highway 48 into Hickman County. Hickman had been entirely isolated by flooded roads and cut off from communications until yesterday. Peggy's commute transects the county, so we felt the need to check out if the roads were open and passable before she attempted them in the pre-dawn darkness. As I had feared, the lowlands south of Centerville along Highway 100 had been hard hit. A typical scene:

Note the mangled fences bearing high water marks that are well up into the buildings. The jumbles of mangled debris are ubiquitous.

Another common sight is flooded and overturned vehicles:

One hopes that they were not occupied at the time!

The power substation at Centerville was flooded:

All power in the area went out, including ours, about 8:30 a.m. on Sunday, probably when this station failed. Our power came back in less than an hour; most of Hickman outside of downtown Centerville remained in the dark through yesterday.

When people don't have tap water for days on end, they get it where they can find it:

Just north of downtown Centerville our excursion came to an end at the Duck River bridge on highway 100:

Normally this bridge sits high in the air over soccer fields.

The water was clearly well over the bridge at the crest:

This would help explain why phone service has been out county wide:

As the power outage also knocked out the cell towers, there was no communication in or out for about 36 hours.

At the north end of the bridge the roadway drops down a bit into the Defeated Creek drainage. It was probably still under 6-8 feet of water; the fish camp and restaurant has disappeared entirely below the river. Clearly Peggy was not going to be commuting past this point anytime soon:


At 7:52 AM, Blogger John KB0NE said...

"As the power outage also knocked out the cell towers, there was no communication in or out for about 36 hours."

Sounds like time to get that amateur radio license.

John KB0NE

At 3:43 PM, Blogger Bill Pulliam said...

I was thinking the same thing myself. I should have said there were no TELEPHONE communications. The emergency statement from the county mayor said no "radio" either, though, which made me wonder if the repeaters were out. This is very hilly country, and anything that requires near-line-of-sight might be useless without repeaters.


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