MCNAIRY COUNTY, Tenn. — McNairy County is under a state of emergency due to massive flooding in the area.
Businesses in downtown Selmer were hit especially hard. Eight to ten inches of rain fell in less than 24 hours.
According to the McNairy County EMA, 30 businesses were damaged by flooding, mostly in Selmer and 6 to 10 homes were damaged countywide.
The water roared across the road and rushed into a number of businesses on Highway 64.
Hope Gray's family owns Gracie's Corner, a clothing and discount grocery store in Selmer.
Gray told FOX13 around 8:00 Wednesday morning the water came rushing in. It was still roaring across the road when FOX13 arrived a few hours later.
“I got here a little before 6:00 this morning, and the water had not even got in and it was in here by 9:00,” said Gray.
She and her family were in the middle of trying to sandbag when the water came up and into the store. When FOX13 arrived, they were trying to salvage what they could and remove sandbags to let the water out.
Down the street, a doctor’s office looked like it had water inside. The local newspaper’s office headlines were underwater. And an insurance office got water in it. Grace tells me she doesn’t have flood insurance. I asked her what she was going to do.
“Clean up and start over,” she said.
The problem with the cleanup is all the mud and filth that the floodwaters bring in along with the fact that insulation in the walls of the businesses acts like a sponge and just soaks the water up.
Another business owner said he had about 3 inches of water inside his store.
Water continued to drip from the ceiling of a gas station with insulation hanging down like moss. Snacks were scattered everywhere.
“Never seen much weather this bad around here,” Rajan Patel told FOX13.
Patel and his family were at home when 3 inches of water flooded the convenience store he said they’ve owned off Mulberry Street for 15 years.
Patel said they’ve never had damage like this before.
“I was kind of surprised that it got this bad all of a sudden,” he said. “It was just fine at night and the next morning it was full of water.”
Patel said luckily his family’s business has flood insurance, but it’s going to take a long time to get things back to normal.
“Tried to salvage what we can and clean up what we could for ourselves,” he said.
The water caused major headaches for drivers.
A bridge off Court Road remained blocked Wednesday night because many are worried the flooding caused some damage to it.
Usually, it’s a quick drive through Selmer to get from one side of town to the other - maybe five minutes at the most. But the floodwater caused major damage and detoured drivers down streets they don’t normally travel, causing backups.
Water came rushing over Highway 64 completely blocking the quickest way through town at multiple intersections.
Drivers tried to get through where they could. It took a really easy drive and turned it into a massive headache.
“We are laying brick at the First Baptist Church and we got to get on the bypass to get a sandwich to eat, and the traffic is bad, and you have to really get around town,” Juan Rodrigues told FOX13. “Honestly, you have to find where you can get through.”
County road crews said they are dealing with multiple areas that are washed out. One drainpipe that collapsed took at least half of the road with it. Water continued to pour through the washout. In Selmer, police blocked traffic at several intersections.
“You got traffic going down a bunch of small side streets, and it is taking quite a bit,” said Rodrigues.
While doing this story and trying to get to one location in town, FOX13′s Tom Dees had to turn around at least 5 different times where the road ended in water.
Rodriquez said he hopes the water recedes soon. “Hopefully people are going to get over the hardship that this is going to cause,” he said.
In a lot of places where the washouts are there is a lot of debris. Be careful going through there so you don't pop a tire.
Always remember that if you cannot see the road surface, you should not drive through it.
Turn around. Don’t drown.
Another problem which made matters worse: a levee broke off New Bethel Road. There is a huge crack in the levee which is still causing some water to seep onto the road.
An emergency management director said people who live farther down the street had to evacuate.
“I never thought that dam would break and well it kind of did,” said homeowner Jason Basinger. “It’s part of life.”
When Basinger bought his home with the levee on the property he thought it would be a great place to fish. He said now it’s become a problematic source of some flooding in McNairy County.
“The amount of water we had, it wouldn’t matter if the levee was twice the size it was, it’s going to bust,” he said.
The emergency management director said when the levee broke, it caused a trailer park to flood farther down New Bethel Road.
Several people were forced to evacuate their homes. The families are now staying in hotels provided by the Red Cross.
A boil water notice is in effect for some residents.
“This is the most I’ve ever seen this area flooded and it was like this wake-up - boom there it is,” said Basinger.
Basinger said he plans on fixing his levee as soon as possible.
“Next step is building the levee back up - its take the hit, move on, and just roll with it,” he said.
Basinger said he doesn’t have flood insurance so it will have come out of his own pocket.
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