Father recalls clinging to life with son, as help never came during Sevier Co. flooding

Chris Lenehan and his son were caught in Tuesday’s flooding and walked out on their own after being stranded for hours.
Published: Jul. 13, 2022 at 10:29 PM EDT
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SEVIER CO., Tenn. (WVLT) - A father from South Carolina remembered the terrifying hours he and his son spent clinging on to life, as flood waters rushed In around them.

Chris Lenehan was camping with his son at Greenbrier Campground in Sevier County, Tuesday when flood waters came rushing into their campsite.

“I woke up in running water, there was no emergency warning on the phone, there was no siren from the camps, there were no people from the camps shouting, I just woke up in the nick of time,” said Lenehan remembering the moments.

The duo was stuck in a spot of land with nearly one dozen other people at midnight.

“I’m looking around me and with everyone’s headlights and flashlights you see the woods but all I see around me is the rushing river, it was a nightmare,” said Lenehan.

Lenehan sent WVLT News screenshots of his phone’s call log, he called 911 four different times, hoping to get someone out to the group to save them.

WVLT News obtained screenshots of his phone’s call log, he called 911 four different times,...
WVLT News obtained screenshots of his phone’s call log, he called 911 four different times, hoping to get someone out to the group to save them.(Lenehan)

“I said, you know, we’re running out of high ground we need to be saved, we need to be helped,” said Lenehan.

Lenehan remembered the moments he kept looking, hoping someone was coming around the corner to save his group.

“I expected it to be something like you see on tv when you see the emergency response on tv. You have people in rafts you have people hooked up to lanyards and flotation devices,” said Lenehan. “I thought that was going to be coming around the corner for three and a half hours, and eventually we gave up on that happening, so.”

Lenehan said his group walked out of the spot they were stranded on after the water receded after help arrived.

“It was just lucky we didn’t die, it was lucky I caught my footing after falling under the water with my son in my hands, it was lucky that it stopped raining,” said Lenehan. “It was lucky the water went down because no one came to save us and it is sheer luck that nobody is dead this morning.”

Lenehan hoped if flooding like this ever happened again, the campground would install a siren to alert campers when high water is on the way.

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