Katrina leaves her mark on Tennessee - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Katrina leaves her mark on Tennessee

The remnants of Hurricane Katrina doused Tennessee with heavy rain and powered high winds that cut electricity to about 75,000 customers in the state's two largest cities on Tuesday. Katrina was at tropical force strength more than 320 miles north of the Gulf Coast when it entered Tennessee overnight. More than 70,000 customers in Memphis and Shelby County were without power Tuesday, Memphis Light Gas & Water reported. Flash flood warnings remained in effect for most of West Tennessee, where up to 3 inches of rain had already fallen Monday night in some areas, said Jody Aaron, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Memphis. The rain and winds were expected to increase through Tuesday morning, but dissipate by the afternoon. The midsection of the state remained under an inland tropical storm warning. Rain in the southern counties was falling at up to 2 inches over a few hours and another 1 to 3 inches was expected before the storm moved out of the state later Tuesday. Although several counties in southwestern Tennessee experienced power outages Monday night, there were no reports of serious flooding or property damage, Aaron said. Tornado watches for eastern Tennessee were expected to remain in effect through Tuesday morning, but meteorologists with the NWS in Morristown said they had no reports of tornado sightings or touchdowns. "It's not been anywhere near what we were expecting," said Randy Harris, acting spokesman for the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency. He said the state's emergency operations center had not recieved any reports of unexpected flooding or major damage. No major road closures were reported. Dozens of school systems across Middle Tennessee canceled Tuesday classes, including the Davidson County system covering Nashville. As of Monday evening, Memphis city schools planned to hold classes Tuesday. Utility officials in the path of Katrina prepared for widespread electrical outages due to high winds with gusts of up to 50 mph, although sustained wind speeds weren't expected to exceed 30 mph. "We are preparing for the worst," said Teresa Corlew, spokeswoman for the Nashville Electric Service. "This storm could cause major power outages across Middle Tennessee." As of Tuesday morning, there were about 4,800 Nashville customers without power, and scattered outages throughout the rest of the state. Officials with the Tennessee Valley Authority said their various distributors would be setting up a call center to provide information regarding potential power outages. NES officials said they would not immediately send any service crews south to help relief efforts until they are certain the Tennessee threats have passed. Other effects of the storm reached Tennessee before the weather, with thousands of evacuating residents seeking lodging across the state and volunteer crews preparing to head south when it is safe to begin relief efforts. Hotels in Memphis were booked Monday with fleeing residents from Mississippi and Louisiana. Some evacuees drove as far as Nashville, where the Loew's Vanderbilt Hotel was cutting rates in half for guests displaced by Katrina. Members of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief gathered at Cherry Road Baptist Church in Memphis on Monday to prepare more than 300,000 meals for those affected by the hurricane. The Tennessee Baptist Convention deployed an advance team of 125 volunteers last night to wait in Memphis. "I expect we'll see a lot of devastation, especially flooding, and maybe even see some gators," said volunteer Noble Carper, 62, a retired Maryville man who will help set up a mobile food center.
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