Monday morning an earthen dam broke at the nation’s largest public utility in Harriman, Tennessee. Twelve homes were damaged and hundreds of acres are under water.
The Tennessee Valley Authority uses the 40-acre retention pond to hold ash generated by the coal-burning Kingston Steam Plant about 50 miles west of Knoxville. The road and railroad tracks leading to the plant were buried under several feet of dark gray ashy mud.
According to the authorities no one was injured when the dam gave way at 1 a.m.
An investigation is now underway to determine why the dam was breached. Heavy rains and freezing temperatures may hold one of the reasons.
MSNBC reports of one resident whose husband was trapped inside of their home while she was returning from Knoxville:
“I am still in shock,” said Crystell Flinn, 49, whose ranch-style house was pushed off its foundations and driven more than 30 feet onto a road. “I don’t think it really has hit me yet.”
Two people were rescued from partially collapsed homes. Using four-wheel drives the workers retrieved others who couldn’t get out of their driveways.
Those who are unable to live in their homes are being put up by the plant in motel rooms.
Nearly 100 people using 30 pieces of heavy equipment are involved in the cleanup effort. A dam on the Clinch River has been reduced in an effort to prevent pollution from the runoff of the flood.