Sullivan Co. officials preparing ahead of heavy rainfall expected this week


SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Following last week’s strong storm system that brought significant rain and flooding in parts of the region, officials across the Tri-Cities are preparing for the next round of heavy rain.

“We were out early Monday morning, 6:30 Monday morning cleaning out debris that’s washed over into the pipes and making sure they’re open to carry what water they can carry,” said Sullivan Co. Highway Commissioner, Scott Murray.

In Sullivan County, officials with the county’s highway department have prepared about 100 signs to be placed in areas prone to flooding that warns residents of road closures and high waters. These signs are in addition to the signs that are already placed on certain roads, as well as the permanent signs that indicate a road is prone to flooding.

Sullivan County Director of Emergency Management, Jim Bean, said they have a list of areas to look out for. When heavy rain comes into the region, they monitor these specific roads closer than most.

Areas such as Buncombe Road, Sullivan Gardens Parkway, parts of Piney Flats, and Cleek Road are just a few of the areas that quickly succumb to water in a weather event.

“The signage is about all you can do. We’ve got the fire departments and rescue squads who are out when it does start to get high, they start calling and going out and checking their roads in the area that they’re aware of,” said Bean.

Bean said during last week’s storm, the rescue squad performed 5 rescues. In one of the rescues, a woman pulled from her vehicle was transported to the hospital where she later died from her injuries.

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Officials warn people to be cautious in these dangerous weather conditions and to watch out for signage.

Bean said that residents who feel like they know a road well should still avoid it because you never know how much water really is on the roadway and it could pose a threat.

“It doesn’t take much to float a vehicle. Just remember, a battleship can float and it’s pretty heavy so if you displace enough water, your vehicle will float,” said Bean.

While officials in Sullivan County say they are prepared for this week’s storm, they are asking for the public’s assistance in reporting underwater roads. 

Not every road is brought to their attention immediately. If you see a flooded roadway or debris blocking the roadway, notify the Sullivan County Highway Dept. at (423) 279-2820.

Once a road is reported as damaged, flooded or blocked, crews will be dispatched immediately to the scene.

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