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Water receding after rivers reach major flood levels in Cocke County

Residents had to grab their essentials and leave their homes overnight into Wednesday morning, as rivers flooded over in Cocke County.

COCKE COUNTY, Tenn. — People had to leave their homes as rivers in Cocke County flooded overnight into Wednesday morning. It affected areas around the Pigeon, French Broad and Nolichucky Rivers.

Officials said that there was substantial water moving out of Canton, North Carolina and towards Walters Dam Tuesday night. So, they said people should pack their essentials and leave the area until it was safe to return.

Wednesday afternoon, flood waters slowly started to recede back to their normal levels.

Parts of Cocke County saw more than 5 inches of rain within 48 hours. Newport also saw almost 3.5 inches of rain. 

"When I was working, I'd have to come down Highway 73 and a lot of times, we would have to turn around and go to 40 because it would be up in the road, like a foot or more," said Ruby James, a resident of Cocke County.

River Safety officer Grady James patrols portions of the Pigeon River. He said flooding is normal, but it's rare to see the water rise as much as it did the last two days.

"It might not do this again for another 5 years. Then again, next month it might — you never know," James said.

He said it's vital to listen to emergency alerts about potential flooding in the area.

Newport Mayor Roland Dykes III said right now, there's a three-phase plan to help alleviate major flooding.

"We are getting there and I think at some point you won't see many of those alerts go out from Newport anymore," Dykes said.

He said only a handful of people in the Newport region had to evacuate. All of them have safely returned back home, according to the mayor.

RELATED: Cocke County reports no injuries or death after evacuation order due to flooding

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