Four Rescued in High Waters, Exceeding 2010 Flood in Maury County (TN)

Mike Christen

The Daily Herald, Columbia, Tenn.


Sep. 21—A heavy downpour over southern Middle Tennessee Monday saturated low-lying roadways, trapping some drivers and homeowners as flood waters quickly rose.

At least four people were stranded by the rising waters on flooded roads and properties, according to the region’s emergency responders.

Maury County Fire Department District 1 Chief Richard Schatz confirmed that the department carried out four rescue operations on Monday as the heavy rains continued to fall on the county.

“There were areas in Maury County that experienced more water than the 2010 floods,” Schatz said.

“People who don’t traditionally have issues with flooding saw flooding just because of the amount of the rain we got yesterday afternoon. The ground was already saturated.”

The National Weather Service’s Nashville Office shared that its radar recorded up to 12 inches of rainfall from Friday morning to Monday evening in parts of Maury County, including the Santa Fe and Theta communities to the northeast of Columbia.

Regions surrounding neighboring Hohenwald and Tullahoma have also seen the same about of rainfall over the same time period.

“That amount of rain in a short amount of time can be very dangerous,” Schatz said.

Two people were brought to safety from the rising floodwaters surrounding their homes on Sulpher Springs Branch Road by volunteer firefighters from the Theta and Bethel communities and the department’s swift water rescue team.

Members of the department’s swift water rescue team crossed a fast-moving stream of floodwater to access one woman’s home surrounded by the rising waters.

“The water had been up to the door of her house, and it had receded, but there was more rain on the way,” Schatz said.

The department also responded to two drivers who became stranded in floodwaters on Knob Creek Road in Santa Fe.

“It was difficult for us to reach the people trapped on the roadways,” Schatz said because the rising waters submerged large parts of the road.

Many other drivers were able to remain safe in the region by bringing their vehicles to elevated parking lots and areas of high ground, waiting out the rains and rising flood waters.

“There are likely more that self-evacuated,” Schatz said.

In Spring Hill, emergency responders were dispatched to the intersection of Cleburne Road and Petty Lane where a driver, was trapped in a car submerged by rising floodwaters.

The driver was eventually brought to higher ground for safety by a team of responders.

Spring Hill Fire Chief Terry Hood said the driver navigated about 75 yards of water before the driver’s tuck engine died, choked by the rising waters.

“The water was rising so quickly,” Hood said. “When we got there, water was up to the tires, and by the time we left, it was submerged.”

Hood said the department’s swift water team was deployed to the vehicle before it was confirmed that the driver exited the vehicle, safely making it to higher ground.

“When we learned that the diver of the vehicle was out of the water and safe, we packed our stuff up and went home,” Hood said.

That was the city’s only water-related emergency call on Monday.

As the flash-flood watch continued across the region on Monday, local emergency agencies encouraged drivers to remain cautious and to avoid flood waters.

“You don’t want to get in the water,” Hood said. “You do everything to avoid it. I have been saying this same thing for 20 years. It dumbfounds me that people want to drive through water. I don’t think people understand the power that water has when it is moving.

Hood said it only takes two inches of water to make a vehicle float.

“Once your tires start floating, there is nothing you can do,” Hood said. “We have been saying it for years. It is dangerous, even for our rescuers. Once you are in the water, you are dealing with a force of nature.”

Maury County public schools were closed on Tuesday because of widespread flooding along roadways. The forecast on Wednesday is expected to be partly sunny with a high of 70 degrees.

Reach Mike Christen at Follow him on Twitter at @MikeChristenCDH and on Instagram @michaelmarco. Please consider supporting his work and that of other Daily Herald journalists by subscribing to the publication.


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