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Planning helps Bartlett, Arlington with Hurricane Harvey’s remnants

Bartlett’s drainage system got plenty of use during Thursday’s heavy rains. This channel is next to First Tennessee, across from the Bartlett Public Library. Photo by Amanda Swain.

Bartlett’s drainage system got plenty of use during Thursday’s heavy rains. This channel is next to First Tennessee, across from the Bartlett Public Library. Photo by Amanda Swain.

Just over four inches of rain hit the greater Memphis metro area on Thursday as the remnants of Hurricane Harvey swept through the region, but city officials in Bartlett and Arlington said good preparation helped them weather the heavy rains and winds without too much trouble.

According to the National Weather Service, rain started locally just before 11 a.m., turning to a heavy rain by about 1 p.m. The closest weather station is at Memphis International Airport, which showed 4.04 inches of rain on Thursday. That is out of the total of 9.29 inches of rain for the month of August, according to an NWS preliminary weather report. That monthly total is 6.41 inches more than normal.

Winds reached a high of 28 mph at 4:54 p.m. with gusts up to 44 mph.

In Bartlett, Public Works Director Bill Yearwood described a city affected but not significantly impaired by the weather. One tree on Louella Avenue fell on the corner of a home, and the city pulled it out into the street so the homeowners could exit their driveway. Four small tree limbs and two larger ones fell at various locations across the city.

A drainage pipe on Old Brownsville Road and Ancient Oaks Place was stopped up with leaves. Six of about 26 pump stations that are sewer lifts registered with high water-level alarms, but those were simply alerts to keep an eye on water levels. A power outage at one lift station required Public Works personnel to shuttle a generator over there to keep the system performing.

The city also had four sewer cleanouts on private property where the caps popped off and sewer water or storm water spilled out.

A small leak in the library’s roof also let some water onto the ductwork and shorted out a sensor, setting off a fire alarm, but there was no fire.

“For the most part, we didn’t have any major problems,” Yearwood said.

He attributed the successful handling of storm issues to his department’s practice of doing a pre-storm bridge and culvert check of more than 120 locations before storms to ensure there are no blockages. They perform the same checks again once the storm has passed.

“It goes a long way towards keeping anybody’s homes from flooding,” he said.

Yearwood also said he would like for residents to stop blowing the cut grass from their lawns into the street and into the storm inlets. That plus fallen leaves adds up to a clogged drainage system. He recommends mowing about once a week and leaving the cut grass on the yard. Grass is about 98 percent water, he said, and removing it takes that water and the nutrients in the grass away from the lawn.

In Arlington, Public Works clerk Dana Salabor said just one tree fell during the storm. It was on Chester Street, taking down some lines. Memphis Light Gas and Water (MLGW) had a power outage that affected between 100 and 1,000 customers, but on Friday they were projecting that power would be restored as of 11 p.m.

There was very minimal flooding, confined to brief coverage of a couple of low-lying roads, she said.

“Our guys were very proactive and got out there and made sure all the drainage was clear,” Salabor said. “… Really, overall, we fared pretty well.”

CAROLYN BAHM is the editor of The Bartlett Express. Contact her at (901) 433-9138 or via email to

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