Waverly, TENN. — At least 22 people were killed, and rescuers on Sunday carried out a diligent search among broken homes and rubble for dozens missing after record-breaking rain as floodwaters surged through Middle Tennessee Gaya.
Saturday’s floods in rural areas shut down roads, cellphone towers and telephone lines, leaving families unsure whether their loved ones survived the unprecedented deluge. Emergency workers were conducting a door-to-door search, said Christy Brown, coordinator of the Humphries County Schools Health and Safety Supervisor.
Humphries County Sheriff Chris Davis said many of the missing live in neighborhoods where the waters rose the most. Their names were on a board at the county’s emergency center and listed on a city department’s Facebook page.
According to surviving family members, the dead included twins who were swept away by their father’s arms. The county sheriff of about 18,000 people, about 96 kilometers (60 miles) west of Nashville, said he had lost a best friend.
Humphries County received 43 centimeters (17 inches) of rain in less than 24 hours on Saturday, the National Weather Service said, breaking the Tennessee record for a day’s rain by more than 8 centimeters (3 inches).
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee visited the area, stopping on Main Street in Waverly, where foundations of some homes were washed away and people flushing their waterlogged property.
Shirley Foster cried as the governor left. She said she had just learned that a friend from her church had died.
Foster told the governor, “I thought I was over the shock of it all. I’m just tired of my friend. My house is nothing but my friend is gone.”
Meteorologists said the region of Middle Tennessee among the hardest-hit regions received twice as much rain as the previous worst-case scenario for flooding. Storms lashed the region for hours, releasing record amounts of moisture – a scenario that scientists have warned could become more common due to climate change.
Torrential rain swiftly turned the creeks running behind the backyards and into furious rapids through the town of Waverly. Business owner Klein, a Kansas city of 4,500 people, stood on a bridge Saturday and saw two girls holding a puppy and clinging to a wooden board sweep past, the current was so strong that no one could catch them Was.
They are not sure what happened to them. Klein heard that a girl and a puppy had been rescued downstream, and that another girl had also been rescued, but she wasn’t sure it was them.
By Sunday, the floodwaters were gone, leaving behind debris from wrecked cars, demolished businesses and homes and a chaotic, tangled mix of things inside.
“It was amazing how quickly it came and how quickly it went,” Klein said.
The Humphries County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page is full of people searching for missing friends and family. GoFundMe pages were created to ask for help with the funeral expenses of the dead, including 7-month-old twins who were trying to climb out of their father’s arms.
Not far from the bridge, Klein told The Associated Press by phone that dozens of buildings in the low-income housing area known as Brookside bore the brunt of the flash floods from Trent Creek.
“It was devastating; buildings were toppled, half of them destroyed,” Klein said. “People were taking out bodies of people who had drowned and did not come out.”
At the Cash Saver Grocery in Waverly, workers stood at desks, registers and a flower rack, as the water from the creek usually flows 400 feet (120 m), after ravaging the low-income housing next door. reached up. At one point, he tried to break through the sailings in the attic and couldn’t, co-owner David Hensley said.
As the situation worsened, the flood waters stopped rising rapidly and a rescue boat arrived. “We told him if there’s anyone else you can get by, go get them, we think we’re fine,” Hensley said.
According to the National Weather Service in Nashville, the city of McEwen, just east of Waverly, received 43.2 centimeters (17.02 inches) of rain on Saturday, breaking the state’s 24-hour record of 34.5 centimeters (13.6 inches) since 1982. The number has to be confirmed.
A flash flood watch was issued for the area before the rain began, with forecasters saying 10 to 15 centimeters (4 to 6 inches) of rain was possible. Weather Service meteorologist Chrissy Hurley in Nashville said the worst storm ever recorded in this region of central Tennessee dropped only 23 centimeters (9 inches) of rain.
“Predicting almost a record is something we don’t do very often,” Hurley said. “Twice the amount we’ve ever seen was almost immeasurable.”