Rainfall leads to widespread flooding - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Rainfall leads to widespread flooding

Flooding in Bartlett. (Image submitted to My 5 by an Action News 5 viewer.) Flooding in Bartlett. (Image submitted to My 5 by an Action News 5 viewer.)
Photo submitted by an Action News 5 viewer. Photo submitted by an Action News 5 viewer.
Flooding at Frayser and Watkins (Submitted by Action News 5 viewer.) Flooding at Frayser and Watkins (Submitted by Action News 5 viewer.)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Heavy rains caused widespread flooding across the Mid-South Saturday.

Late Saturday afternoon, Interim Shelby County Mayor Joe Ford declared a formal State of Emergency.  The declaration activates all necessary resources to provide immediate aid to Shelby County.

Bob Nations, Director of the Shelby County Office of Preparedness, said flooding was widespread throughout Shelby County.

"We encourage citizens to stay off of the roadways if at all possible," Nations said. "This is a very serious and dangerous driving situation."

Overnight storms resulted in power outages for thousands of Memphis residents.  At the height of the outages, according to Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, approximately 8,100 MLGW customers were without power.

According to Wharton, the Gayoso pumping station lost power around 8:00 a.m. Saturday. Although power was restored an hour later, localized flooding occurred in parts of Downtown and Midtown Memphis.  Some residents and businesses experienced flooding and sewer problems as a result of the failure.

Wharton said Memphis' drainage system is generally designed to handle two inches of rain per hour.  In some parts of the city, he said, as much as eight to nine inches of rain fell, contributing to the flooding.

Other flooding-related news:

  • A statement from the Memphis Police Department said many streets were impassable due to flooding. Police received numerous reports of people becoming stranded in their cars or not being able to leave their homes.
  • Near Brownsville, I-40 eastbound traffic was detoured off the interstate at exit 56 and back onto I-40 at exit 66. Westbound traffic was detoured off I-40 at exit 66 and back on to I-40 at exit 56.
  • In Memphis at The MED, Labor and Delivery was on diversion because parts of the hospital flooded.  The MED is now operating at full capacity.
  • The minimum security prison near Millington was evacuated due to flooding.
  • The levee on the south side of the Millington Naval was breeched, flooding homes on the base.  Some 2,000 citizens were evacuated from the base.  The remaining part of the levee is at capacity and may pose future danger.  Boats have been requested to help evacuate citizens.
  • The Beale Street Musical Festival came to an early close late Saturday after Tom Lee Park was evacuated due to a tornado warning in Shelby County.

Tipton County Sheriff's Department spokesperson Donna Turner confirmed over 50 different rescues across Tipton County, mostly for people stranded in their homes or vehicles.  Baptist Memorial Hospital Tipton has confirmed treating five weather-related patients.

Southwest Electric also confirmed between 8,000 to 10,000 power outages across Tipton County.  Tipton County Public Works road crews confirmed 35 to 40 damaged roadways, 21 of which are closed.

Shelter list for Tipton County:

  • Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, 4265 Hwy 59S, Covington - 901-476-7016
  • Munford Park and Recreation Center, 73 College St, Munford - 901-837-5965
  • First Baptist Church Atoka, 102 Kimbrough Dr, Atoka - 901-837-0664
  • ARP Presbyterian Church, 81 Church St, Munford - 901-476-7233
  • National Guard Armory, 4500 Mueller Brass Rd, Covington - 901-476-0222
  • Trinity Church, 11886 Hwy 59S, Mason - 901-581-9103

Floodwaters even swept up a fire truck, which tipped over on its side in deep water, according to Shelby County Fire Department spokesperson Brent Perkins.  Firefighters were responding to a call when the accident happened.

The Memphis Fire Department is also responding to calls of individuals stranded in cars and homes.  Due to the number of calls, MFD's response time is less than optimal.

Driving in flood waters can be extremely dangerous.  The average automobile can be swept off the road by as little as 12 inches of moving water.  Additionally, roads covered by water are prone to collapse. 

If you come upon a flooded street, officials advise using an alternate route.

Stay with Action News 5 and WMCTV.com for updates on this story.

If you have pictures of flooding, please email them to my5@wmctv.com, or log on to my5.wmctv.com to upload them to our website.

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