At least 22 people were dead and about 20 remained missing Sunday afternoon after record-shattering downpours triggered flooding across parts of the state. Among those killed were twin babies who were swept from their father’s arms, consistent with surviving relatives. Grey Collier, public information officer for the Humphreys County Emergency Management Agency, said many homes could also be uninhabitable. The flooding took out roads, cellphone towers, and telephone lines.
The hardest-hit areas saw double the rain that area of Middle Tennessee had within the previous worst-case scenario for flooding, meteorologists said. Kansas Klein, a business owner within the town of Waverly, told The Associated Press that a low-income housing area referred to as Brookside was severely damaged within the floods. “It was devastating: Buildings were knocked down, half them were destroyed,” Klein said. “People were coitus interruptus bodies of individuals who had drowned and didn’t make it out.” Gov. Bill Lee and U.S. Sens. Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty arrived within the county via helicopter Sunday to survey the damage.
“Goodness gracious,” Lee said on a car ride as he saw homes began their foundations and moved into neighbors’ yards. In McEwen, Tennessee, 60 miles west of Nashville, a state-record 17 inches of rain fell in but 24 hours. The town of Waverly, about 10 miles west, saw about 15 inches, turning the creeks that run behind backyards and thru downtown into raging rapids. Stories of survival emerged Sunday because the number of missing inched down from a high of about 50.
Cindy and Jimmy Dunn fled to their attic Saturday after water rose 6 feet high in their Waverly home. They were rescued several hours later when a crew driving a bulldozer raised a bucket to their window. “My husband said one minute he was (watching TV news), and therefore the next minute we had no garage,” said Cindy Dunn, 48.
Anthony Yates, 30, left his home Saturday morning for his shift at Waffle House. At 5:15 a.m., fat raindrops were just starting to pelt Waverly. Four hours later, his wife, Vanessa, and their baby faced peril. Vanessa Yates, 28, put her baby, Coralia, on top of a clique as the water rose in their home. She stood on the counter, but it wasn’t long until the water reached her ankles. She punched out the kitchen window hoping if they were rescued, they might have a simple escape.
“I thought I used to be getting to drown with my baby,” she said. “I didn’t know what to try to do.” because the 4-month-old girl cried, the mother sang a song that she recited throughout her pregnancy, “Where Are You Going Little Bird.” Vanessa Yates’ brother kayaked to her rescue and flagged down a ship along the way. She and Coralai escaped unharmed. But she didn’t know where her husband was or whether he was alive. an influence outage from the storm made cellphone reception difficult.
As Anthony Yates left the Waffle House, every road he tried into Waverly was blocked, flooded, or washed away. He abandoned his vehicle and walked the train tracks back to his home, unaware his family had been evacuated already. When he arrived, he found their dog Lily, who had clung to a floating couch. Eight to fifteen inches of rain fell across Houston, Humphreys, Dickson, and Hickman counties, consistent with the National Weather Service.
National Weather Service meteorologist Krissy Hurley said the world received “about 20%-25% of the yearly rainfall total that this area sees during a year” on Saturday morning. Klein watched from a bridge Saturday morning as homes and cars were swept down a road. Two girls who were holding on to a puppy and clinging to a wooden board swept past, far too fast for Klein and other onlookers to tug to safety. Hours later, the floodwaters were gone, but the destruction was overwhelming, Klein said.
“It was amazing how quick it came and the way quick it left,” Klein said. “I’m thinking how horrible it had been that I lost my restaurant. then I walk around the corner and see someone’s baby died. My restaurant doesn’t mean an entire lot immediately .” In Haywood County, North Carolina, the price rose to four from flooding wrought by Tropical Storm Fred last week after two bodies were recovered Saturday. Heavy equipment teams moved in to filter out debris, authorities said.
“We have homes that are completely destroyed and off their foundations, manufactured homes that were moved, and mobile home parks that I might call completely destroyed,” Sheriff Greg Christopher said. Contributing: Rachel Wegner, Keith Sharon, Brinley Hineman, Cassandra Stephenson, Yue Stella Yu, and Chris Gadd, The Tennessean; The Associated Press