East Tennessee began drying out Monday after Mother Nature dumped several inches of rain throughout the area Sunday.
While areas east of the plateau in the valley did not receive anywhere close to the deadly record-breaking rainfall amounts that fell in middle Tennessee, there was enough local precipitation to raise the anxiety level of Knoxville residents who live near long-time trouble spots.
"You see that line of storms headed this way and there's a lot of apprehension. You just hope it does not make it this far," said Ken Sherfick, who has lived beside flood-prone First Creek in North Knoxville since 1998.
First Creek borders Sherfick's backyard just before horseshoeing beneath Broadway Street and then curving back to his side of the road. The sharp bend in the creek coupled with old bridges that created a bottleneck for the waterway had caused countless floods through the years.
"In 2003, the water came all the way up to our back deck. The current was strong enough that it broke down our basement door. We had five feet of water in the basement," said Sherfick. "We also lost two cars because it flooded our garage and I did not move the vehicles in time."
Knoxville began a $2.3 million project in July 2009 to improve the drainage at First Creek. Severe weather over the winter set the project back slightly, but crews are hopeful they can complete construction by this November.
"It has been a problem for a long time for the city," said Tom Clabo, chief civil engineer for the City of Knoxville. "We're replacing a bridge at Fairmont Boulevard that restricted First Creek. There will be another new bridge at Emoriland Boulevard."
Crews are also constructing a second channel that will divert water downstream when water levels reach flood stage. As of now, the project is about halfway complete. The Sherficks' home remains at the same risk for flooding, but Clabo said residents farther downstream should already notice a difference.
"It has definitely improved south of Fairmont. We have got the channel in there so it is able to accommodate some of the bigger storms that would have caused issues before," said Clabo.
Until the project is complete this November, the Sherficks will keep their fingers crossed that Mother Nature does not take aim at First Creek.
"There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Until we reach the finish line, we will just live with this as we have the last 11 years," said Sherfick.