TDEC Responds To Safety Concerns At Cummins Falls

Posted at 9:59 PM, Jul 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-10 23:51:55-04

No matter what side of Cummins Falls they were on Wednesday park visitors, rangers, and emergency officials all agreed on one thing.

"I've never seen the water rise that quick here," Jackson County EMA Director Keith Bean said. 

"We're experiencing a flash flood and I've told our other rangers to come down and look," said one ranger in a call to 911 dispatchers. 

Three feet in just 3 minutes the water rushed to the falls from a nearby county.

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"It didn't rain here, it rained up in Putnam County and they were at the bottom of these falls and heard a big noise and here come three foot of water. There's nothing they could've done to foresee that was going to happen," Bean told reporters Thursday. 

NewsChannel 5 reached out to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and wanted to know if a siren or warning system would be put in place for future flash floods.

TDEC responded with the following statement; 

"Tennessee State Parks takes the safety of our visitors very seriously. Throughout the year, Cummins Falls State Park staff posts cautionary signage at the park, provides life jackets for visitors, employs highly trained rangers to assist visitors and posts information to our website and social media platforms to communicate about current conditions at the park. We continuously evaluate safety precautions and procedures and we are currently in the process of evaluating the situation that took place at Cummins Falls last week. We will communicate to our visitors any resulting change in policy or procedures."

That flash flood took the life of an elderly woman. Another woman later died while trying to helpin the recovery efforts.