City of Kingsport aqcuires land that acts as buffer in flood plains


KINGSPORT, Tenn. - We are continuing our research on flood plains in the Tri-Cities after recent rainfall in our area. News 5's Kristi O'Connor went to the model city to check out what plans officials have in place in the event of a severe storm. In the last 100 years as the city has developed, its been crafting a drainage system that runs through downtown. "The most I've seen it, when we've had a lot of rain, it gets about half full," nearby business manager Ann Byar said. Still, many probably remember downtown flooding back in 2013. It was the city's last 100-year-flood, a severe storm that only has a 1 percent chance of happening each year. But officials say the city's drainage system can handle more frequent flood events. "We grew up off the south fork of the Holston River," Public Works Director Ryan McReynolds said. Like most cities, Kingsport was developed near a water source, the Holston River. But different from Johnson City and Bristol, the water source does not flow through downtown. The cities' main stream into the river, Reedy Creek, flows adjacent to Stone Drive. McReynolds says just by chance, a buffer of green space was left between development along Stone Drive and Reedy Creek. "Those green fields will flood, which is fabulous. they flooded before development was ever here and they still flood now," McReynolds said. In the last ten years, the city has acquired about 140 acres of that green space, whether through donations or purchases, so that no businesses or homes are built in the flood plain. Now, the city is starting to do more with the land that sits between the creek and businesses on Stone Drive. It is creating wetlands to stop pollutants from the city flowing into the stream. "The goal is for the stream to return back to what it should have been before all the development occurred," McReynolds said.