COCKE COUNTY, Tenn. — At around 6 p.m. Wednesday, officials with the Cocke County Emergency Management Agency said that there were no reports of injuries or death after residents were told to evacuate due to flooding from nearby rivers.
"I can report Mission Success to you as I have no reports of injury or loss of life in the county or City of Newport related to the weather event, subsequent flooding, evacuation, or rescues," said J. Esway, the director of CCEMA.
He also commended the collaborative eforts from teams in Newport City, Cocke County and volunteer agencies. He said they worked together for 27 hours to ensure people were safe.
"I need each of you to get a little rest, hug your families, refuel, reload, check your gear, and be ready to roll out because sure as you’re reading this, the citizens of Cocke County expect us to saddle up and respond tomorrow or the next day, should the need arise," he said.
UPDATE (12 a.m.): The Cocke County Mayor ordered people along the Pigeon, French Broad and Nolichucky Rivers to evacuate early Wednesday morning as waters rise following storms in East Tennessee.
In the order, the mayor said people should gather their essential items and leave immediately. She said they should relocate with friends or family outside the area where flooding could occur.
However, if people do not have anywhere to go, she said temporary shelters are being opened at the following locations:
- Bridgeport School
- Parrottsville School
- Cocke County High School
- Cosby High School
She said the temporary shelters should only be used as a last resort since they are not designed for long-term stays.
The Cocke County Emergency Management Agency said that water was moving out of Canton, North Carolina Tuesday evening and towards Walters Dam, possibly flooding areas around The Pigeon River.
They said water levels were at flooding stages around 9:20 p.m. Increased water from Canton would take the river's water levels higher than they have seen in several years, according to officials.
The emergency agency said that residents living or camping near a Cocke County waterway should stay vigilant of the rivers and prepare to evacuate if the order is given.
A flood warning was also in effect until Thursday for the Pigeon River and the French Broad River.
Cocke County Schools also announced that they would be on a closed on Wednesday, August 18, due to the flooding.
They said that they were also working with Walters Dam to prepare for the incoming water. Gates were opened and officials said the dam was functioning as it was designed to.