Rainfall Devastates Rural Tennessee Killing At Least 22

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Rescue crews searched desperately Sunday amid shattered homes and tangled debris for dozens of people still missing after record-breaking rain sent floodwaters surging through Middle Tennessee.

At least 10 people were killed, including twin toddlers who were swept from their father’s arms, according to surviving family members. Authorities feared the death toll could rise.

The flooding in rural areas took out roads, cellphone towers and telephone lines, leaving families uncertain about whether their loved ones survived the unprecedented deluge. Emergency workers were searching door to door, said Kristi Brown, a coordinator for health and safety supervisor with Humphreys County Schools.

Humphreys County Sheriff Chris Davis said many of the missing live in the neighborhoods where the water rose the fastest.

Up to 17 inches (43 centimeters) of rain fell in the county in less than 24 hours Saturday, appearing to shatter the Tennessee record for one-day rainfall by more than 3 inches (8 centimeters), the National Weather Service said.

The hardest-hit areas saw double the rain that area of Middle Tennessee had in the previous worst-case scenario for flooding, meteorologists said. Lines of storms moved over the area for hours, wringing out a record amount of moisture — a scenario scientists have warned may be more common because of global warming.

The downpours rapidly turned the creeks that run behind backyards and through downtown Waverly into raging rapids. Business owner Kansas Klein stood on a bridge Saturday in the town of 4,500 people and saw two girls who were holding on to a puppy and clinging to a wooden board sweep past, the current too fast for anyone to grab them.

He isn’t sure what happened to them. Klein heard that a girl and a puppy had been rescued downstream, and that another girl was also saved, but he 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 the things inside.

“It was amazing how quick it came and how quick it left,” Klein said.

The Humphrey County Sheriff Office Facebook page filled with people looking for missing friends and family. GoFundMe pages were made asking for help for funeral expenses for the dead, including 7-month-old twins yanked from their father’s arms as they tried to escape.

Not far from the bridge, Klein told The Associated Press by phone that dozens of buildings in a low-income housing area known as Brookside appeared to have borne the brunt of the flash flood.

“It was devastating: buildings were knocked down, half of them were destroyed,” Klein said. “People were pulling out bodies of people who had drowned and didn’t make it out.”

Davis told news outlets Saturday about the 10 confirmed deaths and more than 30 people missing in his county, located about 60 miles (96 kilometers) west of Nashville.

The dead ranged from babies to elderly people and included one of his best friends, the sheriff of the county of 18,000 people told WSVM-TV on Sunday.

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    Tennessee is a state in the southeastern United States.

    It is bordered by eight states, with Kentucky to the north, Virginia to the northeast, North Carolina to the east, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi to the south, Arkansas to the west, and Missouri to the northwest.

    The Appalachian Mountains dominate the eastern part of the state, and the Mississippi River forms its western border.

    Nashville is the state’s capital and largest city, with a 2019 population of 670,820 and a 2019 metro population of 1,934,317. Tennessee’s second largest city is Memphis, which had a population of 651,073 and metro population of 1,346,045 in 2019.

    The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the nation’s most visited national park, is located in the eastern part of the state, and a section of the Appalachian Trail roughly follows the Tennessee–North Carolina border.

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