"The heavy rain we had expected to come in yesterday went to our south, so we're in a lot better shape than we thought we would be," said Doug Campbell, director of the Lincoln County Emergency Management Agency, Tuesday.
After briefings Tuesday afternoon with Tennessee Valley Authority and the National Weather Service out of Huntsville, Ala., Campbell said the outlook is better for the rest of the week, though the county remains under a marginal risk for flash flooding Wednesday into Thursday and a slight risk for Thursday morning.
The area is expected to receive a half-inch of rainfall Wednesday morning, with another one to two inches Wednesday afternoon through Thursday evening. There is also a threat of thunderstorms late Wednesday afternoon into Wednesday night. With that, there could be wind gusts of 30 to 35 mph, and forecasters aren't ruling out the possibility of winds up to 60 mph and the threat of tornadoes.
With the anticipated rainfall, the Elk River in Fayetteville is expected to rise to 17.5 feet by Friday -- that's just at the cusp of minor flood stage. After Friday, that level of the river is expected to remain fairly constant into next week as TVA plans to begin releasing from Tims Ford, said Campbell.
"The river had been predicted to crest at 21 feet above flood stage on Friday, so the 17.5 is much better," said the EMA director. He is continuing to monitor the forecast and keeping an eye on river levels.
Still, Campbell stressed that motorists should be extremely cautious as they travel through flood-prone areas and sections of roadway that are susceptible to being under water -- "We had a motorist this morning who hydroplaned and ended up off the road," he said. "We just want everyone to use extreme caution."
In individual statements issued late Monday, EMA, the Lincoln County Sheriff's Department and the Fayetteville Police Department said they are preparing for the potential of flooding.
In the county's case, deputies will be checking flood-prone areas, and should they become flooded, the Lincoln County Highway Department, as well as TDOT, will be placing barricades to close the roads.
"Moving barricades or traveling around barriers is a violation of TCA 39-17-108," stated Sheriff Murray Blackwelder. "Violators will be ticketed.
"The Sheriff's Department would urge residents to stay away from flood-prone areas and not attempt to travel through flood waters," he added. "Ignoring barricades not only puts your life in danger but the lives of first responders."
In the city, officials noted that the most common flood areas are Norris Street, Adams Street, Old Mulberry Avenue, Lincoln Avenue, and Main Avenue -- these are same locations identified during last week's flood. Should flooding again occur this week, the Fayetteville Street Department and TDOT will begin closing these streets.
"These barricades will be monitored by the Fayetteville Police Department," said Commander Coby Templeton. "Moving barricades or traveling around barriers is a Class A misdemeanor. Officers will issue citations for any violations."
To maintain public safety, the Fayetteville Recreation Department has closed the city parks until further notice," Templeton said. "Anyone found beyond the barriers will also be charged. Watercraft, to include boats and kayaks, are forbidden in closed parks. Submerged obstacles and debris make it unsafe for boating."