Heavy rain submerges parts of Knoxville

Heavy rain submerges parts of Knoxville

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The Tennessee Valley Fair ran for 10 days at Chilhowee Park. The Tennessee Valley Fair ran for 10 days at Chilhowee Park.
This tree fell across Cherokee Boulevard. This tree fell across Cherokee Boulevard.
After the water went down at Ruth Brown's home, the damage was easy to see. After the water went down at Ruth Brown's home, the damage was easy to see.

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - More than 24 hours of rain left parts of Knoxville under water Tuesday, including some of Chilhowee Park where the Tennessee Valley Fair ended on Sunday.

Drivers affected

By the time drivers hit the pavement for their morning commute, nearly three inches of rain had fallen since midnight.

The police department said officers responded to seven calls about vehicles stuck in flood water from Monday night through Tuesday morning.

Drivers also had to work their way around blocked roads, fallen trees and slick streets.

"The biggest thing we're always concerned about is the flooding on the roadways. We've actually barricaded a little over 20 roads, working with our traffic engineering department," said City of Knoxville Public Services Coordinator Chad Weth.

One Knoxville towing company said business was five times higher than most nights. "Some were cars in the water, a lot of commercial calls from different companies in the Knoxville area. It was an above average night to say the least. We probably did 15 and on a normal night, we would maybe do three or four depending on the conditions on the road," said Fountain City Wrecker Service operations manager Chad Smith.

Tow truck drivers know their work isn't done when the rain stops. "The biggest thing we see post the rain is people having accidents because they're driving too fast," Smith added.

East Knoxville family evacuated

The fire department helped Ruth Brown and her daughter on Ault Road in East Knoxville evacuate their home due to flood water. Volunteers from the American Red Cross arranged shelter for them at a motel.

"I heard something that sounded like water dripping," around 4:00 a.m. When Brown got up to investigate, she saw her home was flooding. "It was coming from the back, the kitchen door, coming in. It's something hard to come by when that's your home."

The water receded to the nearby creek by Tuesday afternoon, but you could see the waterline on the side of the house.

Brown's grandson, Danny Ray, showed us the damage inside. He grew up in the house and said it has flooded five times. "In '82, '91, '96, '97 back to back, and then this year."

Damage from previous floods is visible in the home, and Ray said there's probably mold as well.

He says he wants better for his mother and grandmother, but doesn't know where to turn. "In my opinion, it's unfit to live in, but if you've got no other place to go, you've got no other place to go."

"We're just poor people," Brown said. "We just try to do the best we can to keep a home."

Trees down

In the Sequoyah Hills community, a tree fell across Cherokee Boulevard and blocked one lane for a time.

Crews had to start work early to clear trees. "We had a crew come in about 3:00 a.m. and start addressing them, and we've had about 26 calls since then this morning," one manager said.

"We've got two or three inches of rain out there that we're dealing with. We've got loads of trees that are down causing problems that have either landed on our lines or taken down some poles, so we're just taking to precautionary steps to stay safe and to get those power lines back up," said KUB spokesman Jason Meridieth.

Site under water after fair

The rain caused several feet of standing water to collect in the parking lot at Chilhowee Park, which is a low lying area that often floods in heavy rain.

Mary Harrell and her crew are responsible for setting up, running, breaking down and then moving four of the carnival rides at the fair.

They got it done Monday night, all but the Super Himalaya.

"My husband drove out here this morning to see what we were looking at and as soon as he seen that, he went up and got all the guys out of bed and they just come rushing out," Harrell said.

"It's tough whenever you work all them long hours over the weekend, and then you're tearing down all night," Harrell added. "It didn't start raining until 6:00 in the morning or so pretty good, and then it rained steady all day long on them yesterday."

They don't have to be at their next stop in Middle Tennessee until next week.

The fair Public Relations Director Sarah Thompson says it will probably take several days for the park to dry out on its own.

"I'm just so thankful this happened on Monday morning instead of through the fair," Thompson said. "We had gorgeous weather this year and so we're very thankful this happened after."

"I have seen it flood probably four times since I started in January of 2011. This is probably the worst. This is actually more water than we had in 2011. It's an ongoing issue with Chilhowee Park, unfortunately," Thompson added.

There are some permanent water pumps installed in Chilhowee Park, but the city says they can't keep up with this much heavy rain.

6 News Reporter Jessa Lewis and Reporter Jill McNeal contributed to this report.

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