Update: The devastating flooding that struck Middle Tennessee Saturday turned out to be even more deadly than initially feared as the death toll increased to at least 22 people Sunday afternoon. Rescue workers were still desperately looking for survivors as more than 50 people remained missing. The flooding that followed record-breaking rain destroyed roads and cellphone towers leaving many families uncertain about whether their loved ones survived.
Waverly, a town of 4,000 residents that is about 60 miles west of Nashville, was hit hardest by the deadly storm that poured as much as 17 inches of rain in Humphreys County in less than 24 hours. That shattered the state’s record for one-day rainfall by more than three inches.
Original post at 7:56 a.m.: Severe flooding struck Middle Tennessee on Saturday and left at least 10 people dead while some 30 remain missing as record-breaking rainfall washed away rural roads, cars, and homes. Two of the dead were twin toddlers who were swept away from their father. Authorities were going around houses to try to locate people missing in Humphreys County, a rural county that is around 72 miles west of Nashville that was the hardest-hit by the flooding. Some areas received as much as 17 inches of rain in less than a day.
“We have lost a lot of roads, both rural and major highways,” Rob Edwards, the chief deputy of the Humphreys County Sheriff’s Office, said. “In my 28 years, it’s the worst I’ve ever seen it.” Power outages and lack of cell phone service has complicated rescue efforts, he said. It could take days to restore power and broadband service to the area. Humphreys County Emergency Management called on residents to not travel unless absolutely necessary as an 8 p.m. curfew was imposed Saturday. Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee called on residents to “stay cautious of rising floodwaters.”
Meanwhile, the Tennessee National Guard was called in to help with water rescues as some suddenly found themselves stuck and in dire need of assistance. “People are trapped in their homes and have no way to get out. Water is up to their necks. It is catastrophic, the worst kind of situation,” Krissy Hurley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Nashville, told the Tennessean of the flooding in Humphreys County. Low-income homes appear to have been hit the hardest. “It was devastating: buildings were knocked down, half of them were destroyed,” local business owner Kansas Klein told the Associated Press. “People were pulling out bodies of people who had drowned and didn’t make it out.”