Flooding closes roads in Pigeon Forge, Smokies; hikers shuttled out

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PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (WATE) – Flash flooding is closing roads Friday afternoon in Pigeon Forge and the police department said anyone parked near the Little Pigeon River should move their vehicles.

The National Weather Service predicts the Pigeon River will be above flood stage by Friday afternoon.

RELATED: 140 units evacuated after roof partially blown off at Knoxville apartments

Several roads in Pigeon Forge and Sevier County are closed due to flooding.

“We saw a tree floating by. Not every day you see a tree in the river I guess…glad I’m not swimming in it,” said Spence Hackney of Wilmington, N.C.

“It’s pretty crazy with the water being that high and this close to the parking lot. This didn’t change plans, it just changed the parking,” said Noah Payne, a tourist from Virginia.

“Well when we rolled up I pointed out right here that I thought this was supposed to be a fence and that was a bench and it was under the water. So we were all a little bit shocked. It definitely is quite a wonder to come down here and watch the water like this,” said Pauline Heiny visiting from Asheville.

At mid-afternoon, the following roads were closed in Sevier County: River Divide Road at Henderson Road , Sharp Hollow at Battle Hill Road, Hills Creek at Emery’s Cove , Old Hills Creek at East Parkway, Emery’s Cove, Grassy Branch, Web Creek Road, Old Wagon Road at Chilhowee School Road, and Glades Road at Powdermill.

The city of Pigeon Forge says Sharp Hollow, Battle Hill and River Divide roads are closed. 

“If you have a car parked anywhere along the banks of the River please move your cars now. The river is rising quickly,” the Pigeon Forge Police Department said in the Facebook post.

“I usually fish this river a lot and it rose up really fast today,” said Nick Britton of Sevierville.

Meanwhile, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park evacuated campers from Elkmont Campground “out of an abundance of caution,” a park spokesperson said.

They are providing shuttle service for about 20 hikers down the mountain from the Newfound Gap and Clingman’s Dome areas who are “wet, cold and concerned about being prepared for the overnight temperatures.”

Elkmont, Newfound Gap Road, Greenbrier and Cades Cove Loop Road are expected to remain closed overnight.

FORECAST: Weather AWARE: Breezy and cooler with additional scattered rain showers

A flood warning in effect in for southern Sevier County until 7:30 p.m., according to the National Weather Service.

Up to three inches of rain has already fallen and the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River at the Aquarium Bridge is near bankfull and close to flooding, the National Weather Service said in an 11:58 a.m. statement.

Flooding is expected in Sevierville, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Smoky Mountains-Newfound Gap, Smoky Mountains-Fontana Area, Smoky Mountains-Balsam Mountain, Pittman Center, Wears Valley, Elkmont, Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Roundtop Mountain State Park.

A flood warning has in effect in Newport until Saturday afternoon. The Pigeon River in Newport is expected to rise above flood stage by late Friday afternoon and continue to rise to near 9.5 feet by Friday night. The river will fall back below flood stage by Saturday morning.

Flood stage for the Pigeon River in Newport is 8.0 feet. At 10 a.m. Friday, it was at 4.7 feet, the National Weather Service said.

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