GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WATE) — Sevier County officials said Wednesday that several vehicles had been swept up in floodwaters after heavy rains caused flash flooding near a Gatlinburg campground late Tuesday. It takes mere inches of floodwater to sweep a car or SUV away, according to the WATE 6 Storm Team.
“Heavy rainfall leads to rapidly rising water and in low-level areas, especially with the terrain in East Tennessee, flooding can happen quickly,” Chief Meteorologist Ken Weather said in a 6 Storm Team Weather School segment regarding flooding. “It only takes about 6 inches of water to sweep a human off their feet, in about 12 inches of water a car or an SUV can be swept away and it takes about 18 inches of water for larger vehicles.”
Over 400 people were evacuated from the Greenbrier Campground in Gatlinburg after several inches of rain fell Tuesday between 8 and 10 p.m.
During some vehicle rescues amid the flooding in Sevier County, officials said rescuers walked over to people in their vehicles, put life jackets on them and walked them back to safety. Many vehicles are reportedly still in the nearby Little Pigeon River.
If you see another vehicle in the river or amid floodwaters, Sevier County officials ask that you call 865-453-3200 to report a vehicle in the river.
A Great Smoky Mountains National Park spokesperson said Wednesday afternoon there were not any vehicles in the river within the park boundaries or upstream of the park. There was some roadway and trail damage in the park from the Tuesday night storm.