NASHVILLE, Tenn. (April 29, 2022) – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District recently completed a Flood Plain Management Services Special Study of the Gap Creek Watershed for the city of Cumberland Gap, Tennessee.
Ryan Wigner, technical lead for the Nashville District Hydrology and Hydraulics Branch Water Resources Section, presented the study to Mayor Neal Pucciarelli at the city’s town hall April 7, finalizing nearly two years of work collecting and compiling data.
“The goal of this project was to give the community of Cumberland Gap a better understanding of what their flood risks were, provide the town with inundation mapping, and deliver potential measures to help reduce the risk of flooding,” explained Wigner.
The Corps of Engineers updated hydrology and hydraulics information for Gap Creek and Colwyn Branch tributary, computed 100-year elevations, collected bridge data, and surveyed the watershed. Models were also developed to better understand the magnitude of flows and the team developed flood inundation mapping.
Cumberland Gap is in Claiborne County, Tennessee, at the headwaters of Gap Creek. It is also positioned at the junction of Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee, and the Cumberland Gap Basin has a total drainage area of 1.4 square miles.
Pucciarelli said the town has experienced issues with flooding for a long period of time.
“We had some rain events that were causing all sorts of problems,” Pucciarelli said. “We were getting so much sediment from the mountains around us that our creeks were filling up in front of our eyes and the water had no place to go.”
The FPMS study makes it possible for FEMA to update its Flood Insurance Rate Map and Flood Insurance Study Report. It also identifies 12 alternatives to reduce flooding, which include various combinations of flood control structures such as a levee and improvements like channel modification, cleaning the channel, and culvert sizing.
The mayor said he plans to present this study to the board of aldermen and explore funding opportunities and mitigation options with the Corps of Engineers as the community addresses its flooding issues.
“The alternatives section of the report was amazing,” Pucciarelli said. “The part that really intrigued me was the rerouting of the creek Colwyn, and not letting it run down to an intersection where multiple creeks intersect. What they suggested was to cut a channel on down towards city hall that would allow the water to bypass this big intersection and help get it out of town quicker. There were lots of ideas that were very impressive.”
The Nashville District team provided technical services and planning guidance needed for effective flood plain management in Cumberland Gap, which are captured in the FPMS study.
“Once the current conditions were accurately mapped, potential measures to reduce flooding throughout the town were presented to Mayor Pucciarelli,” Wigner added. “Our updated analysis provides the town with a better understanding of the risk to flooding, which allows for more informed decision making in the future for protecting the residents and businesses in Cumberland Gap.”
The FPMS study is 100% federally funded. It kicked off in July 2021 and concluded this month. The study is authorized under the provisions of Section 206 of the Flood Control Act of 1960, as amended.
(The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on the district’s website at www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps.)