Heavy rain, localized flooding across Memphis

A student walks on the campus of the University of Memphis during Friday's heavy rains.
A student walks on the campus of the University of Memphis during Friday's heavy rains.

By Anna Marie Hartman - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Around 11:00 a.m. Friday, skies opened up and some parts of Memphis got more rain than they could handle.

Rainfall caused localized flooding in many places around the city. On Wildleaf Drive flood waters gushed into homes, while at a daycare center on Millbranch, dozens of children had to be evacuated.

Fire crews responded to Exchange and Lauderdale, where parked cars were soaked up to the bumper.

Memphis Public Works Director Dwan Gilliom gave a simple explanation to a soggy problem - too much rain, too fast.

"We probably received somewhere in the ball park of an inch and inch and a half within about 10 or 15 minutes," he said.

But the solution is not so simple, according to Gilliom, because even the newest drainage systems in Memphis are only equipped to handle a maximum of 2 inches of rain per hour.

"It's not that often that you have four or five days of continuous rain that keeps the ground saturated, and you get a heavy downpour like we experienced in the 11 o'clock hour," he said. "There's nowhere for the water to go."

Gilliom said with no short term solution in sight, safety is the only savior when Mother Nature gives Memphis more rain than it can drain.

Rain is expected to continue past the weekend after an unusually wet week across Tennessee.

A flash flood watch was effect Friday for all of West Tennessee. Forecasters said because the soil is saturated with moisture after days of rain, even small amounts of rainfall would add to flooding.

If you have pictures of today's flooding, please email them to my5@wmctv.com

Copyright 2009 WMC-TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.