SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. - Heavy rains Tuesday caused some flooding in Kingsport, but residents on one street say a new construction project is to blame.
Larry Jennings has lived on Pond Springs Road for 35 years and says he never had a problem with flooding until last year. "It started after the construction for the new welcome center was put in," says Jennings.
The construction of the new Kingsport Welcome Center is changing the view on the street, but 25-year resident Sonja Holtzclaw says it's changing the landscape as well. "The ground stays wetter. It seems like the lay of the land, the excavation changed the way the water runs," she told us.
Earl Barnhardt has been here about 36 years and says the work to fix the water flow has only moved the problem. "They've got pipes and everything up here now and it directs it into the retention pond, but it goes down into my neighbors' house. They're the ones with the really big problem now," he said.
We contacted TDOT about the flooding issue; they told us a retention pond was put in and it has helped with the flooding. The response also says TDOT doesn't have any plans to make adjustments to the pond anytime soon.
TDOT officials suggest residents having flooding problems should contact officials at Sullivan County.
We met with the Sullivan County Highway Department for more information. "The water goes under the road through a pipe down through," explains Kingsport supervisor Scott Murray.
When asked if the water doesn't go on the road, Murray said it's not really a highway department problem. "We've got the road plus every road has got a right of way," he said.
Now neighbors here aren't sure what to do next.
Barnhardt sighs and adds, "I don't know. I just don't know."
When asked if he's frustrated, Barnhardt simply replied, "Pretty much."
Here is TDOT's response to the inquiry about the flooding:
"There have been issues in this area in the past due to drainage issues on the county road. We are suggesting that [residents] speak with Sullivan County folks about this issue.
The detention basin that has been constructed on this project has helped with flooding.
At this time no adjustments are planned for the pond.
This is essentially this is a pre-existing condition that has been there for a long time and we have done everything in our power to not make conditions worse than they were before construction. We did have some very heavy rain up here yesterday and that created water problems in several locations.
This has been the issue since before we constructed the pond. We had increased the velocity of flow on to the property owners with the construction of the welcome center. That was the reason we constructed the pond. The pond has decreased the velocity of water to the point that the property owners are now getting the same water they had before construction began. There have been issues with the ditch on the county road which belongs to Sullivan County and we have spoken to them about it before.
-Mark Nagi, TDOT Spokesperson"