MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis and surrounding areas were placed under a flash flood warning Tuesday after severe storms moved into the Mid-South.
Traffic in both directions was at a standstill for nearly three hours on I-55 between Crump and McLemore due to flooding.
Daryl Nowley is a trucker from Collierville and his delivery to Austin, Texas is now going to be behind after he was stuck in traffic on I-55 Tuesday morning.
“I was going to deliver today but that probably won’t happen,” Nowley said. “It got slow by the water. I guess the water was high. Cars were backing up and turning around. I thought that was it.”
TDOT Community Relations Officer Nichole Lawrence said construction in the area is partly to blame.
“Whether there was concrete barrier railing or not, it could’ve very well been backed up because of the amount of rain we got in such a short period of time,” Lawrence said.
She said the concrete barrier rails set up for the construction on I-55 have spaces under them to allow water to flow. However, Lawrence said those spaces were overwhelmed by the rainfall.
“Once we saw it was flowing, we started looking at different areas throughout the construction zone to see where it was ponding the most and that’s where they decided that they would make some adjustments with the concrete barrier rail,” Lawrence said.
Heavy rainfall and flooding in other areas throughout the city caused some drivers to abandon their cars in the middle of the road.
“You couldn’t see anything as far as the rain, like I said this area here is trash everywhere, and the drain holes and it’s a problem,” Jestin Powell said.
Powell was taking his four children to school when suddenly his car got stuck in the flood near Lamar Avenue.
The rising water left a rise of concerns. Without the city stepping in to remove this trash, the debris could once again clog the drainage system – resulting in something similar.
“The rain comes down so hard and so fast that our drain systems can’t keep up,” Lawrence said.
Lawrence said that TDOT officials will be meeting over the next couple of weeks to see where they can make changes or move barriers to prevent delays from happening again.