The roller coaster of crests forecast by TVA for the flooding Tennessee River at Savannah took a dip Saturday night to nearly 397 feet, down from a feared crest of nearly 400 feet that is just a foot short of the all-time record established in 1897 before Pickwick Dam was built.
Hardin County Fire Chief and Emergency Management Agency Director Melvin Martin said first responders have rescued 11 people in two days. The river level was in major flood stage at 393 feet at 10 a.m. today and is currently expected to climb until Tuesday morning.
Numerous roads are impassible.
Officials representing Hardin County, Savannah, Crump, Saltillo, Pickwick Electric Cooperative, schools, state and local law enforcement, highway, fire, medical and emergency management organizations packed a meeting room at the county’s main fire hall early Sunday to share information.
Saltillo Mayor Larry Lowery reported that the city utility department shut down its water wells Sunday morning due to flooding. A representative for the Saltillo Utility Department said water tanks serving its customers are full, but are expected to last only about 36 hours given normal usage.
Officials are urging Saltillo water customers to conserve.
Savannah Utilities Director Virgil Morris said Savannah’s water and sewer systems are expected to remain operational and the city is ready to lend Saltillo a hand with tanks of water if needed.
Pickwick Electric and Tennessee Valley Electric Cooperative have had to cut power to flooded areas.
Richard Childers, representing the PCA mill in Counce, said plant operations are continuing, but flooded roads are making truck traffic difficult. He noted the mill normally sees about 750 trucks daily, and that trucks are having to detour onto small roadways.
“We’ll get through this,” said Hardin County Mayor Kevin Davis, who declared a state of emergency Saturday. “I think in times like this people come together with an outpouring of help.”
He added that some residents are still in the process of moving out of their homes to escape the flood.
The American Red Cross, in conjunction with the county, has opened an emergency shelter at Savannah Church of Christ on Pickwick Street. So far, about 15 families have been taken in.
Although the entire Tennessee River system is being impacted, the highest levels are currently being seen along TVA’s reservoirs in northern Alabama and western Tennessee. including Hardin County.
TVA, which manages 49 dams on the river system, said that with saturated soil and little active plant growth, runoff into the river system is expected to continue for many days even though the prolonged rain has ended. Peak water levels are not expected to occur until later this week and higher-than-normal levels are anticipated for several weeks.