BLOUNT COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) – TDOT crews aren’t alone in dealing with the impact of recent rain. Many county and city crews are also battling damaged roads, flooded ditches, and slides throughout East Tennessee.
Blount County Highway Superintendent Jeff Headrick and his team are responsible for 835 miles of road. While they’ve had several long days following recent heavy rain, Tuesday they saw a break.
While showers slowed, Headrick said water tables continue to rise.
His crews worked on ditches, digging and clearing debris, to help water runoff and to and prevent it from pooling on the roads.
Blount County’s Highway Department is able to track, in real-time, the status of roads throughout the county. In what Headrick dubs the “war room,” his team is able to view a weather radar and monitor which roads have been deemed hazardous by their crews or by law enforcement.
Monday, Blount County crews cleared two landslides, one along Cameron Road and another on Old Walland Highway. It’s a common problem after a lot of rain, Headrick explained.
“We live in the mountains and some of these rocks that have what we call…mud seams. Those mud seams separate those rocks foundations. If those mud seams get washed or expand and contract… it’s going to move,” he said.
With slides, he said, “you’re never out of the woods.” “Those slopes, when it completely dries or gets too dry, then you can have sliding as well. It’s not just saturated, an over-drying problem will cause it as well.”
Another major headache for his team, following a lot of rain, is freezing temperatures. “That road base, it’s got water in it. It freezes and expands. Then it thaws and contracts…you’re going to have asphalt problems,” he added.
While there’s plenty to worry about in times like this, he said his number one concern is the safety of citizens and of his crews.
“There’s a reason those barricades and trucks and our people are stationed because it’s dangerous, please don’t go around,” he said, urging drivers in and around Blount County to be vigilant.
Before Headrick worked in the top job for the county highway department, he worked in the private sector in excavating. He said the damage from recent rain and the damage caused by flooding this time last year is some of the worst he’s seen.