Riverside Bridge takes beating from strong water, debris

CLAIBORNE COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Claiborne County emergency management officials have been monitoring Riverside Bridge, a main artery to county roads.

On Riverside Road, the bridge was blocked, as of Monday. In the middle, huge amounts of debris have piled up beside the bridge. As the bridge dips down to the road, water was still rising Monday.

The county declared a state of emergency Sunday evening and canceled classes Monday.

Riverside Bridge falls along a major bus route for the school system. The school system already has a two hour delay Tuesday, but Emergency Management Director David Breeding said the school system should consider the dangerous roads due to flooding and debris.

"We spoke with the director yesterday afternoon. We talked about a lot of the bus routes that were closed down because of high water. Some of those routes have since been cleared by receding water, but I'm not sure," Breeding said. "That's going to be a decision for them sometime (Monday), depending on whether its safe to access them or not."

The Local 8 Weather team said they expect more flooding in Claiborne County. Entire trees, branches and trash have been piling up along Riverside Bridge. Breeding worried it could take a toll on its structure and affect people downstream.

"If it stops up somewhere downstream, then it's going to cause the river to rise even more downstream. There's always the possibility of the homes getting hit with some of the debris," Breeding said.

One of the people living downstream is Wayne Epperson. He said he has trucks on standby to move things out, if need be.

"It's something you never want to see happen, but you realize when you live this close to the water, it could any time. I believe this is as bad it's been since 1977 when we got the hundred year flood and it's still coming up," Epperson said.

Emergency management crews are also on standby, in case something happens to the bridge.

"Right now, there's really nothing that can be done except sit and wait," Breeding said. "Because trying to remove that debris pile with the river being so swift is just going to cause problems downstream."

Breeding also said he worries the debris will end up piling over the bridge before the water does.

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