By Jim Freeman
LAFOLLETTE, TN (WLAF) – Severe thunderstorm warnings were issued Thursday morning for Campbell County at 1:31am and 3:34am. The heavy rain and damaging wind lived up to its billing during both warnings. The storms prompted crews from LUB and the county and city road departments out around 2am to tend to power outages, downed trees and debris.
Weather improves through the day as our Thursday becomes mostly sunny. Temperatures top out at 87 with a feels-like reading of 100-degrees. It is an extremely humid day.
Reports coming in to WLAF this morning have been of flooded roads from up the valley all the way to Caryville. WLAF Road Warriors Brenda Wilson and Jimbo Burton were on the road at 4am and called in reports.
“We’ve come from up the valley and through La Follette, and there are flash flooding type conditions. There where Subway is, the right lane is flooded, and here at Taco Bell, both lanes are full of water,” said Wilson. She and her husband, Jimmy, were out early making a run for Pyro Shows.
“I’m coming off Mount Paran, and there is standing water passing by the National Guard Armory. It was so deep, it about took the wheel of my F-250. Coming down Queener Road and to the four lane was like a river. There’s a lot of debris on the roads, too,” said Burton.
Burton called back in at 5am saying Highway 116 had lots of standing water. “Down through here by A & S Steel, the road is covered,” said Burton. South of Rocky Top/Lake City, Burton passed a floating Mini Cooper on Hwy 25W.
For me, as I came to work this morning, it was like a river on the four lane from the high school to Hunters Branch. The usual suspect areas of road have standing water though roads that generally don’t have much trouble have water issues this morning.
It’s not often Downtown La Follette is totally dark, but that was the case early on this Thursday morning. A little after 3am, at the height of about a 90-minute round of showers and storms, power was out to more than 2,400 LUB customers in town. Counting Downtown and outlying areas, there were 3,050 customers in the dark.
Power was quickly restored to the Downtown area. At this publishing, power outages were down from more than 3,000 to about 750.
“We’re dealing with six to seven downed trees right now,” said Campbell County Road Superintendent Ron Dilbeck as he spoke live on the air over WLAF Radio at 5:30am. He and his crews have been out since about 2am. Expect more downed trees and continued high water around the county.
Dilbeck calls the downed trees as county wide. He cautions drivers to be alert for high water and debris on roads. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 07/21/2022-6AM)