Cleveland, Tennessee — This week’s weather is something that has made many of us in the southeastern United States nervous. It has caused memories of the flood of ’93 that took many homes and businesses from us. In McCaysville and Copperhill, townspeople are worried that the Toccoa River will once again leave its banks and flood the small town. Other people are more worried about the Ocoee River and the effect that another flood would have on the few weekends of rafting that we have left in the season. Others are worried that the wet weather will cause yet another land slide on highway 64 and put an early stop to the rafting season. These things are all still possible if the rain doesn’t let up soon.
The worst part of the rain is hopefully over, but not without its harsh effects and the fright that river towns will still flood from the water that is washing down from higher elevations where the water is still escaping from. The water has caused the rivers to raise over 3 times their usual levels and the Ocoee River, usually only running on rafting days, is filled to the brim.
While the Toccoa and Ocoee Rivers are actually the same river, in different states they are considered two different ones to locals. Both river sections are up way above the normal amount for their banks and some landslides have already began to occur. The “river road” as locals like to call 64 has already suffered a small rock slide, which didn’t even require road crews to clean up, about half way down the river and although it is small, any more falls could be more serious and require more work to clean up.
This much water is also dangerous to the rafting business that holds most of the economy for the local area. Too much water is too dangerous to send customers of rafting trips, and therefore closes business at a time when business is crucial, at the later part of the season. Existing creeks and streams are overflowing into roadways, new and dried up creeks and streams are making their way down hills and mountains, and further south the issue has become what they are now calling a deluge.
While the Southern part of Tennessee and Northern part of Georgia have not seen the worst of the deluge, we are still suffering a great deal with trees falling, rock and mud slides, and even a few basements flooding. If the rain continues however I fear that we too will be forced to close roadways and head for higher ground just as our nearby neighbors, literally just down the road in middle Georgia, have already had to do. The worst parts are still to come as the total damage is still unknown. Trees will still be in danger of uprooting until the ground is dried, mud will continue sliding until the ground is once again stable, and streams will continue to rise until the rain completely halts for a while. One good thing to come of this however is that the closely past drought is definitely in the past now.