Damage assessment under way in Kenton after weekend storms
Posted: Monday, May 3, 2010 9:03 pm
By: Chris Menees, Staff Reporter
By CHRIS MENEES
Today is the calm after the storm for most of Obion County.
But for some residents in the Kenton area, it will be a day of assessing damage from weekend flooding.
Obion County Emergency Management director Danny Jowers said at least 50 homes east of Kenton, just across the railroad tracks, were flooded due to a breach in one of the forks of the Obion River that runs through Kenton.
It is the worst of the damage reported so far in Obion County from a destructive round of storms that swept through late Friday night, throughout the day Saturday and late Saturday night into early Sunday.
Jowers does not yet have an official count of the number of homes flooded in the Kenton area, but he estimates at least 50 just east of the town were affected.
“Water got up in all of them,” he said this morning. “The water has receded in a lot of these homes, but a lot are still underwater. It’s going to be a slow process to get the water off. People are going in to assess damage this morning.”
Rutherford resident Beth Hitts told The Messenger that Highway 105 between Rutherford and Bradford in neighboring Gibson County was still closed at 6:30 a.m. today due to flooding.
“A friend who lives there was evacuated yesterday morning but was able to get back into his house last night. The water had gone down enough. Most of the water in the Rutherford area has receded,” she said.
Much heavier flooding was reported to the south of Obion County in Gibson and Madison counties, where area churches were reported to be offering post-storm shelter and meals for those affected.
Jowers said Obion County actually was “very fortunate” overall in the aftermath of the weekend storms. He said the county likely received in the neighborhood of 3 to 4 inches of rain — considerably less than what was predicted to hit the area.
In addition, the area to the north of the county did not get quite as much rainfall, which also helped Obion County.
Although the weather was severe and included high winds, lightning and heavy rain Saturday night and early Sunday, Jowers said there were no tornadoes or anything that actually touched down in Obion County. There were some scattered reports of funnel clouds being sighted by spotters overnight Saturday and several communities’ sirens were activated both Friday and Saturday nights while Obion County was under tornado warnings at various times.
“We didn’t have anything hit or close to being hit,” he said.
The Messenger heard a report of people seeking shelter in Union City during the storm Saturday night, but Jowers said local emergency management does not provide pre-event shelters during storms for a couple of reasons: residents don’t need to drive around looking for shelter during dangerous conditions and, due to liability, government agencies cannot guarantee facilities will necessarily be safe from harm.
“We provide shelters after the fact for flood victims or tornado victims,” he said.
Gibson Electric Mem-bership Corp. reported Saturday its crews had been working throughout its northwest Tennessee service since just after midnight Friday when customer-owners began experiencing storm-related outages. About 300 scattered outages had been reported at that time.
The weekend’s official rainfall amounts recorded at the A.L. Strub Wastewater Treatment Plant in Union City included .89 inches Friday night, followed by 2.31 inches Saturday and a scant .12 inches early Sunday — bringing the precipitation total so far this year for Union City to 18.06 inches. At this same time a year ago, 22.42 inches had been recorded.
Ironically, this is the third consecutive year Obion County has been drenched by torrential rains April 30-May 1, according to The Messenger’s files. On April 30, 2009, the Union City area received 4.08 inches of rain; and on May 1, 2008, the area officially received 2.92 inches of rain.
Messenger news staff members John Brannon and Glenda Caudle also contributed to this report.
Published in The Messenger 5.3.10