STRAWBERRY PLAINS, Tenn. (WATE) — Sunday marks the one-year anniversary of devastating flooding across East Tennessee, with many communities rocked by the scope of the damage.
One neighborhood in particular in Strawberry Plains had lingering problems months after the rain stopped in 2019. At least three homes in the Ashley Oaks neighborhood were under several feet of water last year.
The roads homeowners needed to get in and out of their subdivision were also closed because of flooding. Two months after the February 2019 flood, county leaders partnered to help make the roads passable.
A year later, as April Cole walks through her backyard she says, “It actually looks kind of like a small lake.”
It’s underwater from rain earlier this month.
“At least it’s not as bad as it was last year. But it could get worse,” added Cole.
Casey Lane is the only road in the Ashley Oaks neighborhood that’s closed because of flooding. The Cole family pointed to a marker in the road they had from flooding in 2019.
“You couldn’t get into the subdivision. People couldn’t get out of the subdivision. You had water over every road into the subdivision and it was really scary for some people,” said Cole.
In 2019, the Disaster Relief Team with the Jefferson County Baptist Association partnered with state and other government emergency services to install hosing and a pump to make the roads in the neighborhood accessible.
Cole says it took until summer for everything to completely dry out but this last rainstorm was worrisome, “You’ve always got that thought in the back of your head. If it’s gotten bad once, it could get worse the next time. You just never know.”
On Friday, Jim Smith drove by to see the damage from the most recent storm, “It’s nice to have a little water near your house but not in your house and like this.”
Smith doesn’t live in Ashley Oaks but says all the flooding is unbelievable, “I mean what can you do? I couldn’t imagine having this situation right outside our house.”
For the Coles, they know everything will dry out again but it’s still heartbreaking.
“You just don’t know what’s going to happen. I think about these other homes and it devastates me,” Cole said.
The Jefferson County EMA says a hydrology study by the Army Corps of Engineers was requested last year by the county mayor, looking at what options the county may be able to take.
We’re told the study was presented to county leaders this week but no course of action has been decided just yet.
Jefferson County EMA adding that when it comes to flooding, they keep an eye on the Ashley Oaks neighborhood for standing water.
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