Garrison estimates flooding damage to Clay roadways could cost millions

County mayor Reagan says Clay could be eligible for disaster funds,

many residents were evacuated, but no major injuries were reported

By THOMAS P. WEAVER, HORIZON Editor

CLAY COUNTY-As the Cumberland and Obey rivers continued to swell here at their intersection in Celina Monday morning, county road superintendent Ernest Garrison told the HORIZON the cost of fixing roadway damage caused by flooding here over the weekend could tally well over a million dollars.

“It’s bad,” Garrison said.  “I’ve never seen this much wide-spread damage.

“It’s gonna cost well over a million dollars by the time we get everything fixed.”

At the same time, county mayor Dale Reagan was traveling the county surveying and documenting the damage to report back to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) in hopes of receiving government assistance to counteract some of the cost  of repairing the damage the flooding caused.

“I talked to Senator (Mae) Beavers and she said Clay County is included in the designated flood disaster area making us eligible for help,” Reagan said in a cell phone interview as he traveled the county Monday morning.  “The entire 17th district, with the exception of Cannon County is part of it.

“We are out here taking pictures and notes to submit to TEMA after we meet with Natalie Boone (Clay EMA direcotor) this afternoon.”

Garrision said he and his crew had been “working all weekend” since the water began to rise and explained they would “keep at it as long as it took” to get everything back to normal.

“Everything’s washed out all over the county,” Garrison said.  “Bridges, tiles, ditches–they’re all gonna need work and we can’t get to it all quick enough, but we’re gonna keep trying.

“We’ll probably still be working on it this time next month, but we’re not giving up.”

He said “a lot of roads are still closed” as of Monday morning and expressed his gratitude to many volunteers who helped the road department over the weekend.

“If it wasn’t for all the help we had from everybody in the county, we couldn’t have accomplished what we have so far,” Garrison said.  “I want to thank everyone who had any part in the clean-up, because we couldn’t have done it without them.”

Reagan echoed Garrison’s sentiments, commending Clay Countians for their outpouring of help.

“I’m so thankful for all of the volunteers–fire departments, first responders, rescue, and everyone else” Reagan said.  “They were outstanding and we couldn’t have had near as good of a response to the call for help if it weren’t for everybody pitching in to lend a hand.”

Garrison and Reagan began their work Saturday when the county was pounded with storms bringing heavy rains and the situation got critical Sunday as the skies continued the onslaught of precipitation.

Between seven and eight inches of rain were recorded over the two days by the HORIZON weather station near the square in Celina and much more was reported in other areas of the county and state, including the Nashville area were the devastating flooding damage was widely reported on television.

Roads were closed here as they became impassible with swift running water and several residents became stranded, either in their vehicles or as water approached their homes.

Reagan thankfully said as far as he knew “no major injuries were reported” here, despite historical flooding, but he did say several were evacuated from their homes and taken to higher ground.

“We were lucky nobody got hurt bad, but we did have a busy weekend checking roads, rescuing the stranded, and evacuating homes,” he said.  “It got pretty bad for a while and we are still seeing problems today, but I am so thankful that we didn’t have anybody get hurt.”

The hardest hit area seemed to be the west end of the county in and around Hermitage Springs, with Highway 52 running through the community being closed at times when the water crested.

Reports of flooded businesses and homes in the area were also the norm Sunday.

Reagan said other low-lying areas here suffered the same fate, including:

• Mill Creek–where entire developments had to be evacuated,

• Proctor Creek–where access to the Beech Bethany and Vernon communities along the river was eliminated with water over the road and some residents used boats to get out,

• the Boles Community in Moss–where roads were closed and flooding is still evident, and

• many other places near water-shed creeks and rivers.

Besides that, the recreational complex/fairgrounds, high school baseball field, and the boat launch/parking lot at Donaldson Park in Celina were replaced with newly formed lakes and ponds.

“It’s pretty devastating,” Reagan said, “but it could’ve been a lot worse.”

See a future HORIZON for more on the cost of the clean-up, updates on road repair, and future news on the flood as it becomes available.