I-40 closed, homes threatened by floods in the US South

Published 02-23-2019

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Homes, highways, parks and bridges throughout the South have been flooded or put out of commission Saturday, as the toll of days of drenching rains swelled waterways and pooled over saturated lands amid a threat of severe storms.

Interstate 40 near the Tennessee line with North Carolina was closed by a rockslide, one of the dozens of roads and highways shut down throughout the South region, transportation officials said.

Tennessee Department of Transportation spokesman Mark Nagi said on Twitter that a "full scale detour" was in place, with traffic being diverted to Interstate 81 and Interstate 26.

In Bruce, Mississippi, rivers broke flood stage and flash floods poured into homes and businesses. News outlets report that a local state of emergency was declared by officials in Grenada, Mississippi, after dozens of streets and homes flooded. A six-mile (nine-kilometer) stretch of the Natchez Trace Parkway was closed in Mississippi after water covered part of the road.

The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood warning for northwestern Lafayette County in Mississippi until 7:30 p.m. after emergency officials reported that a dam was at risk of failing.

Meteorologist Kole Fehling says emergency officials reported the threat involved the Audubon Dam, which blocks a creek on the northside of Oxford and a subdivision. Emergency management officials were not immediately available for comment Saturday.

High water also threatened property in Tennessee, which, like many other areas of the South, has been soaked by several inches of rain over the past week. Officials said a mudslide destroyed a Subway restaurant in Signal Mountain, Tennessee. No injuries were reported.

News outlets report that water rescues have been performed in some Middle Tennessee counties. Flash flood warnings and watches remained in place throughout the South.

Weather officials warned residents of the possibility of severe storms Saturday in western Tennessee, northern Mississippi and eastern Arkansas. Damaging winds, tornadoes and large hail were possible, the National Weather Service in Memphis reported.

Kentucky announced Friday that it was closing the U.S. 51 bridge over the Ohio River to Cairo, Illinois, because of flooding on the southern approach. The bridge, which carries 4,700 vehicles a day, is likely to stay closed until Thursday, and possibly longer.

Near Jamestown, Kentucky, the Army Corps of Engine

High water also threatened property in Tennessee, which, like many other areas of the South, has been soaked by several inches of rain over the past week. Officials said a mudslide destroyed a Subway restaurant in Signal Mountain, Tennessee. No injuries were reported.

News outlets report that water rescues have been performed in some Middle Tennessee counties. Flash flood warnings and watches remained in place throughout the South.

Weather officials warned residents of the possibility of severe storms Saturday in western Tennessee, northern Mississippi and eastern Arkansas. Damaging winds, tornadoes and large hail were possible, the National Weather Service in Memphis reported.

Kentucky announced Friday that it was closing the U.S. 51 bridge over the Ohio River to Cairo, Illinois, because of flooding on the southern approach. The bridge, which carries 4,700 vehicles a day, is likely to stay closed until Thursday, and possibly longer.

Near Jamestown, Kentucky, the Army Corps of Engineers said it was increasing releases from the Wolf Creek Dam on the Cumberland River. Areas located downstream of the dam, from Rowena to Burkesville, could be affected by flooding as a result, officials said.

The Ohio River at Cairo is predicted to crest Sunday at its third-highest level ever recorded, and stay that high into next week. The Tennessee River near Savannah, Tennessee, also is forecast to crest at near-record levels.

In North Carolina, a Catawba County building inspector said extra weight from rain is suspected to have contributed to a partial roof collapse at a child day care center in Hickory. The Hickory Daily Record reported that firefighters responded to a roof collapse at Rainbow Child Care Center on Thursday morning. There were no children at the facility at the time, and no injuries were reported.

Weather officials warned residents of the possibility of severe storms Saturday in western Tennessee, northern Mississippi and eastern Arkansas. Damaging winds, tornadoes and large hail were possible, the National Weather Service in Memphis reported.

Kentucky announced Friday that it was closing the U.S. 51 bridge over the Ohio River to Cairo, Illinois, because of flooding on the southern approach. The bridge, which carries 4,700 vehicles a day, is likely to stay closed until Thursday, and possibly longer.

Near Jamestown, Kentucky, the Army Corps of Engineers said it was increasing releases from the Wolf Creek Dam on the Cumberland River. Areas located downstream of the dam, from Rowena to Burkesville, could be affected by flooding as a result, officials said.

The Ohio River at Cairo is predicted to crest Sunday at its third-highest level ever recorded, and stay that high into next week. The Tennessee River near Savannah, Tennessee, also is forecast to crest at near-record levels.

In North Carolina, a Catawba County building inspector said extra weight from rain is suspected to have contributed to a partial roof collapse at a child day care center in Hickory. The Hickory Daily Record reported that firefighters responded to a roof collapse at Rainbow Child Care Center on Thursday morning. There were no children at the facility at the time, and no injuries were reported.

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Hunter Maples looks over a water line break caused by heavy rainfall near the Max Hipp Industrial Park in Oxford, Miss. on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. The city of Oxford has issued a self-imposed precautionary boil-water notice for all customers that receive water from the city of Oxford, including those customers outside the city limits. (Bruce Newman/The Oxford Eagle via AP) - The Associated Press


Middle Valley Plaza is seen flooded in Soddy-Daisy, Tenn., Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019, after heavy rain overnight. Homes, highways, parks and bridges throughout the South have been flooded or rendered out of commission Saturday, as the toll of days of drenching rains swelled waterways and pooled over saturated lands amid the threat of severe storms. (Doug Strickland/Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP) - The Associated Press


Emergency workers survey damage after an overnight mudslide destroyed a Subway restaurant on Signal Mountain Road in Chattanooga, Tenn., Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. Subway manager Robbie Anderson said that the restaurant had closed at about 2:00 on Friday for safety after two trees fell from the hillside. (Doug Strickland/Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP) - The Associated Press


A mailbox on Alabama Street in Courtland stands in over a foot of water on Friday afternoon, Feb. 22, 2019, in Decatur, Ala. Road officials in Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi reported Friday that more than 50 state or federal highways were closed by flooding, plus scores more local roads. (Dan Busey/The Decatur Daily via AP) - The Associated Press


A child's toy tractor floats along a flooded Water Street in the Courtland area on Friday, Feb. 22, 2019, in Decatur, Ala. More than 30 school districts in Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee closed Friday, in part because school buses couldn't navigate flooded roads. (Dan Busey/The Decatur Daily via AP) - The Associated Press


Homes along Alabama Street in Courtland sit in over a foot of water on Friday, Feb. 22, 2019, in Decatur, Ala. More than 30 school districts in Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee closed Friday, in part because school buses couldn't navigate flooded roads. (Dan Busey/The Decatur Daily via AP) - The Associated Press


A backyard on Pryor Road in Limestone County is flooded on Friday, Feb. 22, 2019, in Decatur, Ala. More than 30 school districts in Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee closed Friday, in part because school buses couldn't navigate flooded roads. (Jeronimo Nisa/The Decatur Daily via AP) - The Associated Press