Worst of storms missed Marshall County

Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Waters rage below the underpass on Old Lake Road in this photograph taken by local residents Larry and Barbara McAdams at 3:16 p.m. Sunday.

Emergency crews rescued 10 Marshall County residents from high water last weekend when rainstorms claimed lives in Nashville. The Duck River crested Monday nearly three feet above flood stage.

Three people in one family were evacuated from their Fayetteville Highway home on Saturday and one resident of a Fishing Ford Road home was evacuated that day, Emergency Management Agency Director Bob Hopkins said. Saturday night, three people were rescued from a flooded car on Gold Road.

All seven of those people rescued, or evacuated, were "walked" through water up to their knees, Hopkins said Sunday.

"It's probably 10 now," Hopkins said Tuesday without information on where those other three were walked through high water to safety.

Lewisburg had about 7.5 inches of rain. In other Middle Tennessee counties more than a foot of rain was measured. As a result, water-soaked ground drained into cracked sewers and Lewisburg's wastewater plant only partially treated most of what flowed into the system.

"We are fortunate that we were on the lesser edge of the rain curve," Water and Wastewater System Superintendent Kenneth Carr said, explaining why the sewage treatment plant's capacity must be increased from 3 to 6 million gallons a day (mgd).

Some of it is growth, but like most sewers, pipes are cracked and ground water flows into those tunnels, thereby increasing the flow to the treatment plant.

"We had up to a little more than 10 mgd going through the plant May 1-2," Carr said. "This would mean partial treatment of what was over 3 mgd. Partial treatment means solids are removed in a swirl and the rest is treated with chlorine and then the chlorine is removed before it goes into Big Rock Creek."

The Environmental Protection Agency approved that system in 1986, Carr said. But standards have changed, so the utility plans to spend $13 million to increase capacity and build a 10 million gallon holding tank that's 38 feet deep on land the city purchased between the plant and Rock Creek Park.

Meanwhile, the utility has been getting federal grants to repair broken pipes.

"Some manholes have holes in the top so you'll see water bubbling up," City Manager Eddie Fuller said. "They call that surcharging."

Lewisburg has three manholes that surcharge, but that's far fewer than the number in larger cities.

The Duck River crested Monday between 1-2 p.m. at 642.75 feet above sea level, Hopkins said. Flood stage is 640, so the river was almost three feet above flood stage where it's measured. That's at the bridge for Verona-Caney Road over the river in the vicinity of Milltown. Normal is 617.69 feet above sea level. At about 11:45 a.m. Sunday, the river's surface was at 634.69, indicating the river was 17 feet deeper than normal then. A day later, it was about 25 feet deeper than normal.

As of 9 a.m. Tuesday it was down to 637.69 feet above sea level.

Lewisburg "closed off 7-8 streets for short periods of time," Fuller said.

Lewisburg Public Works Construction Supervisor Bill Curtis "Blocked them off and water receded," Fuller said, those roads were reopened, "And then he'd have to block them again.

"We did have some asphalt damage," Fuller said. "Near the VFW, water got under the pavement and lifted the pavement up. It was fixed Monday morning, but it will get some more asphalt at some time.

Hopkins said, "There's a lot of that out in the county."

He asked motorists, "Please be patient. These place are being repaired as they can be done."

Some 12 inches of rain fell on Maury County and on Saturday the Farmington-Rich Creek Volunteer Fire Department had stood by with a rescue boat in case it was needed in the neighboring county.

Ten roads were closed in Marshall County on Saturday, but none should have been a surprise for residents, as Hopkins described them as "the normal ones" that are covered by water as a result of flash flooding.

In Chapel Hill on Saturday, Police Chief Jackie King said there was one road closed but that it's the one that closes "when there's a heavy dew."

Hopkins said, "We don't have the worst of the flooding."