Official says flooding prevention efforts needed - WSMV News 4

Sumner County executive says flooding prevention efforts needed

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Several people were trapped after flash flooding in Sumner County. (WSMV) Several people were trapped after flash flooding in Sumner County. (WSMV)

Flash flooding in Sumner County caused many people to become trapped inside their homes Friday morning.

Just last summer, some of the very same areas of Sumner County saw massive flooding.

The Channel 4 I-Team has learned that many residents tried to clean up some of the problem spots but faced resistance.

Sumner County Executive Anthony Holt said those prevention efforts could have "immensely" helped the situation Sumner County encountered on Friday.

He said several homeowners were unable to clear out the debris and gravel beds in nearby creeks last year because of certain environmental regulations.

Holt said that in typical problem areas, such as Station Camp Road, residents have been wanting to clear out the vegetation and gravel that's accumulated for years, possibly since the 1990s.

However, Holt said they were unable to do that because of environmental regulations meant to protect aquatic life and water quality.

Holt said there needs to be some discussion about how to strike a balance between clearing streams and buildup while protecting the environment.

"These streams, while they look benign and pleasant, when you don't have these extreme rainfall events, during these large events, you get five inches or more, these turn into raging rivers," Holt said.

People can clean out minor debris like tree limbs and garbage from streams, according to Eric Ward, a spokesman for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. But he said changing the grading or reshaping a stream with heavy equipment would require a permit.

Channel 4 contacted TDEC about this issue on Friday morning. 

In a statement, Ward said the state intends to help Sumner County remove debris from recent flooding.

"We understand the flooding has posed challenging circumstances for the county and we want to be a helpful resource for them during this time," Ward wrote. "By working together, we will help the county ensure debris is removed from waterways in a manner that is both effective for the county and protective of the environment."

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