While several places in Whitley County and Williamsburg have experienced flooding in recent days, it appears the area dodged any major damage due to high water.
“We’ve had some culverts washed out and stuff like that, but for the most part it has been pretty good,” Whitley County Emergency Management Director Danny Moses said Monday afternoon. “We will know better when the water recedes.”
Williamsburg Mayor Roddy Harrison echoed similar sentiments about city flooding adding that he feels for anyone, who has been effected by the high water.
“Really I don’t think we are going to know 100 percent what kind of damage we are going to have until the water recedes,” Harrison said. “I think we are going to be OK. I really don’t see any major damage. It looks like we may have dodged a bullet. Early on they were talking about maybe the river cresting at 30 feet.”
According to the National Weather Service’s Jackson, Kentucky office, the Cumberland River crested at 29.52 feet about 4 a.m. Tuesday in Williamsburg, which is considered a “moderate” flood.
This would make it the 15th highest flood crest in Williamsburg history putting it just behind the Feb. 2, 1951, flood that crested at 29.85 feet, according to the National Weather Service’s website.
Last year on April 25, the river crested at 28.38 feet in Williamsburg. On March 6, 2015, it crested at 28.05 feet. The biggest flood on record in Williamsburg was 35.03 feet on April 7, 1977.
Harrison added that since 2011, there have been 10 flood stage occurrences, and the one this week is the highest of those 10.
Williamsburg’s flooded areas
As of about 3 p.m. Monday, the University of the Cumberlands football field was submerged under water, George Hayes Road was flooded, and Briar Creek Park was under water.
“As I told a television station reporter the other day, that is something we just take for granted that the parks are going to flood,” Harrison added.
He noted that water is getting close to some things on Sixth Street, but the city doesn’t start evacuations there until the river reaches 31 feet.
“The raising of the road on 10th Street has really been a significant deal because at 25 feet water was over 10th Street in the old days,” he said. “The raising of the road and the floodwall has really helped us out.”
Moses said that both ends of Highway 1804 were flooded Sunday, but by Monday flooding on the southern end had receded.
On Sunday night, a young woman got her car stuck in high water there.
“We actually called Williamsburg Fire & Rescue to bring a boat, but they were able to back up a pick-up truck to get her,” Moses noted.
As of Monday afternoon, Wolf Creek River Road was flooded on both ends. Highway 779 was still flooded, and portions of Highway 11 in Knox County were closed due to flooding.
“It was like a flash flood in most parts of the county. In most places, it has gone back down, if it is not tied into the Cumberland or Clearfork rivers,” Moses said Monday afternoon. “When you get into the Gatliff-Poplar Creek area, any road next to the Cumberland River is flooded.”
This includes the gravel potion of Dal Road, Poplar Creek School Road and Mossy Gap Road, which are all flooded.
So far there haven’t been any major mud or rockslides due to the rain, Moses said.
Jellico Creek, where there was a major slide last year, appears to be holding. Newman Campbell Road, which is located in the Highway 92 West area, did sustain some damage due to flooding, Moses said.