Catastrophic flooding in Tennessee leaves at least 22 people dead and 51 missing

·2 min read
Catastrophic flooding in Tennessee leaves at least 22 people dead and 51 missing
Aerial images show homes along a highway surrounded by extreme flooding.
Aerial images captured by the Nashville Fire Department over Waverly, Tennessee, on Saturday. Nashville Fire Department, @NashvilleFD/Twitter
  • At least 22 people died and dozens were missing after extreme flooding in Tennessee Saturday.

  • The flash floods destroyed homes, washed away rural roads, and left thousands without power.

  • The Tennessee National Guard sent soldiers to help with rescue operations.

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Severe flash floods in Tennessee on Saturday left at least 22 people dead and dozens of others missing, the Tennessean reported.

At least 51 people have been reported missing as of Sunday afternoon after torrential rains tore through Humphreys County, around 60 miles west of Nashville, destroying homes and washing away rural roads.

Search-and-rescue crews remain on site. "We are asking that residents please stay out of neighborhoods and roadways while the rescue effort is underway," Waverly Chief of Public Safety Grant Gillespie said in a statement.

There is an 8 p.m. curfew in place for Sunday evening.

Two recovered bodies belonged to toddlers who had been swept away from their father, CNN affiliate WSMV reported. Officials believe that between five and seven of the missing individuals are children.

The National Weather Service said the 17 inches of rain recorded in the city of McEwen likely broke the all-time 24-hour rainfall record for the state.

The catastrophic flooding also caused road closures, power outages, loss of cell phone service, and a boil water advisory put in place for the community, CNN reported. Tennessee Emergency Management Agency said about 10,000 people in the area were without power.

"This is the most devastating disaster that we've ever experienced in this area," Waverly Mayor Buddy Frazier said to ABC affiliate WKRN, adding that the floods happened with "the quickness of a tornado."

The Tennessee National Guard said on Twitter it sent nearly 50 soldiers to help with the rescue operations. "Our first priority is to assist with getting responders access to the area and conduct rescue operations," said Maj. Gen. Jeff Holmes.

A flood reunification center was also set up for people to report those who are missing and receive updates about the rescue efforts, Humphreys County Emergency Management Agency said.

On Sunday, President Joe Biden said his administration would offer help to those impacted by the flood.

"I send my deepest condolences for the sudden and tragic loss of life due to flash flooding in Tennessee. We've reached out to the community and will offer any assistance they need in this terrible moment," Biden said.

WZTV reported that Governor Bill Lee intends to request a federal declaration of emergency for Humphreys County after damage assessments are done.

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