Voluntary evacuations urged; shelters opened

Voluntary evacuations urged; shelters opened

Posted: Tuesday, May 3, 2011 10:47 pm
By: Kevin Bowden, Staff Reporter

Voluntary evacuations urged; shelters opened | Voluntary evacuations urged; shelters opened

The Pier Restaurant on Lake Drive. Looking out over the rising lake from the back side of the restaurant Monday afternoon were (from left) Police Chief James Hack, waitress Velvet Lamb and restaurant co-owner Sandra Neely
By KEVIN BOWDEN
Staff Reporter
Flooded streets and yards have become the norm in many areas of Obion County and, more specifically, in Samburg and Obion.
“All residents of low-lying and areas prone to flooding in Obion County should take precaution now to be prepared to evacuate homes and businesses if flooding occurs,” a news release from Emergency Management Director Danny Jowers states in part.
“The following areas are requested to begin immediate voluntary evacuation: Residents of the area of Highway 157, Walnut Log and surrounding areas, even-numbered houses on West Highway 22 from Holloway Road to Samburg, the town of Samburg, residences in the Lake Drive area of Samburg and all residences to the Obion  County line at the Reelfoot spillway,” the news release states.
Emergency shelters have been set up at Second Baptist Church in Union City and at South Fulton Baptist Church.
Anyone who voluntarily evacuates their home is encouraged to secure their property, turn off the main power and place a white flag or cloth on the front door to alert responders  they have left.
Even though sunny skies returned to the area today, flooding concerns persist across the county and more rain is in the forecast by this weekend.
In Samburg Monday afternoon, floodwaters from Reelfoot Lake were already covering many sections of Lake Drive and the water was creeping up to the back side of The Pier Restaurant.
Restaurant co-owner Sandra Neely and her staff watched helplessly as the water threatened the back side of The Pier.
Samburg Police Chief James Hack was out throughout the afternoon, monitoring the flooded streets.
Mrs. Neely said she and state Rep. Bill Sanderson toured the town earlier in the day to survey the flood damage.
As the Obion City Council met inside Obion City Hall Monday night, the familiar pinging of rain striking the roof could be heard over the discussion.
The sound of the rain caught the attention of several council members, as well as many of those in the audience. It was an unwelcome reminder of what the city has dealt with over the past week — strong winds and heavy rains.
A large area of the southeast side of the town, below Troy Avenue, is now under water, due to the heavy rains and backwater from the Obion River. Areas where neighbors were clearing away fallen trees and tree limbs less than a week ago are now submerged and cordoned off due to floodwaters.
Police Chief Royce Aker announced at Monday night’s meeting that he and other city officials were scheduled to meet with Hornbeak Fire Chief Bob Reavis to go over an evacuation plan for the city.
“I don’t know what happened to our emergency management director,” Aker said, reporting that he hasn’t seen him since the wind storm that hit the town a week ago.
Aker reported lightning during recent storms knocked out his department’s computer system.
There was also a brief discussion about trash from recent storms that has been stockpiled in the far southeast area of town. Parnell stated he would contact Barker Brothers Waste to have the trash removed.
“We’ve got a lot to go. We’ve got a lot done,” Parnell said.
Then there was Monday night’s detonation of explosives on the north end of the Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway, just south of Cairo, Ill.
At the direction of Maj. Gen. J. Michael Walsh, who serves as president of the Mississippi River Commission, technicians detonated explosive charges about 10 p.m. Monday. Many local residents reported hearing and feeling the detonation, which was designed to remove a portion of the Mississippi River levee and alleviate flooding along the river.
Removal of the levee section was necessary to maintain the integrity of the National Flood Protection System located along the Mississippi River in southeast Missouri and western Kentucky, just below the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, according to a news release from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
At the time of detonation the river gage at Cairo was 61.72 feet and by 11 p.m. it had dropped to 61.29 feet.
“We executed the plan and it performed as expected,” Col. Vernie Reichling, commander of the Corps’ Memphis District, said. “We are now moving to the next steps, which are opening the two outflow crevasses at the southern end of the floodway.”
Officials in southwest Kentucky, and particularly in Fulton County, continue to monitor the floodwaters and the levee system in their county and the Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway across the river.
“The decision to open the levee at Birds Point was indeed a difficult one in which I ultimately hoped could be avoided,” Congressman Stephen Fincher said today. “I commend Major General Walsh for his leadership and decisive action in attempt to avoid a more catastrophic event. I will continue to monitor the situation in all of the communities along the Mississippi and do everything I can to ensure the people of Tennessee continue to receive the help and support needed.”
Previously, Congressman Fincher joined Sens. Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander in sending a letter to Army Corps of Engineers Major General Michael Walsh, urging him to make every effort possible to protect the entirety of the Mississippi River Valley.
Staff Reporter Kevin Bowden may be contacted by e-mail at kmbowden@ucmessenger.com.
Published in The Messenger 5.3.11

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