Central Tennessee’s major infrastructure systems appear to have sustained minimal damage from flash floods following an intense localized storm that inundated the area Aug. 20 with record amounts of rain in a matter of hours.
A National Weather Service gauge in McEwan, west of Nashville, recorded a 24-hour rainfall total of 17.02 inches, while radar data at other locations indicated amounts of 21 inches or more. Nearly half of the precipitation fell during a six-hour midday window, sending waterways surging beyond their banks. NWS also reported that the Piney River near Vernon reached 31.8 ft, nearly 12 ft above the previous record set two years ago.
Many blocked secondary roads have been deemed safe to reopen as floodwaters receded. The Tennessee Dept. of Transportation reported late on Aug. 23 that State Route 1/U.S. Route 70 in Humphreys County remained closed due to a bridge outage and slide damage in separate locations. Another state road through the area was closed at two waterway crossings. Interstate 40 in Hickman County was closed for several hours on Aug.21 when high water from an adjacent creek spilled onto the roadway, but reopened later in the day.
Several localities in the affected area issued boil-water advisories as a result of power outages at water treatment facilities, but there have been no reports of wastewater spills or plant disruptions.
State emergency management officials have confirmed 21 deaths as a result of the flooding, with dozens more missing. Federal agencies have already dispatched personnel to conduct damage assessments are already underway in advance of a presidential disaster declaration requested by Gov. Bill Lee (R).