WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – Weather conditions kept first responders busy across Williamson County Thursday as they dealt with water rescues, wrecks, and high waters on many roads. At times, nearly twenty streets were closed.
The sheriff warned drivers not to cross roads with any water across them, saying some drivers are ignoring the street closure signs.
“These guys risk their lives to go out after these people. You know we put the road closure signs up and some people think it doesn’t mean that they have to stop, that they can go right through the water and they find out otherwise, and then they lose their vehicle,” said Sheriff Dusty Rhoades.
Rhoades added that they are citing people for it.
“I think in our minds, our cars are very tall, our tires are tall, but just covering even a little bit of your tires can carry you away in floodwater,” said Dinah Wade with the Williamson County Rescue Squad.
A man was rescued early Thursday morning at Trinity and Arno Roads, an area known for flooding. A Williamson County deputy at the scene said the driver of the red van started to walk through the water after getting stranded. The fire department ultimately was able to rescue him without any injuries.
“He was safe. He luckily was not in swift water, so they were able to just walk out to get him which is great. Except, right now, with the weather being so cold, that adds an extra layer of danger, not only to the victims, but to the responders as well. We encourage people to turn around not drown because you are putting others at risk as well, not only due to possible drownings and being swept away, but also for hypothermia” said Wade.
Wade says their volunteers have responded to five rescues in the county over the last three days.
“Even though water might not look deep sometimes it’s deceiving, because roads have washed away and you can’t see it, potholes have formed or you think it’s just a couple of inches, but it’s a lot more. If the water is swift that adds an extra danger and we just want to make sure that our folks are safe and our responders are safe,” said Wade.
First responders often repeat the same slogan, “turn around, don’t drown,” but oftentimes their warnings go unheard. Wade says drivers often believe the road is safe, despite multiple signs urging drivers to stay clear of a particular road.
“I think when people get near the water they can see the other side, and they think, ‘it’s that close, I can see it’s not that high, the swift part is over there,'” explained Wade.
Businesses near 4th & 5th Avenues, near downtown were keeping a close eye on the Harpeth. The same spot dealt with serious flooding in March of 2021, as it took over businesses like French’s Shoes & Boots and Reeds Produce Garden Center.