Catastrophic flooding in Middle Tennessee left at least ten people dead and dozens missing Saturday as record-shattering rainfall washed away homes and rural roads, authorities said.
The low-income homes — dozens of block buildings known as Brookside — appeared to have borne the brunt of the flash flood, Klein said.
Humphreys County Sheriff Chris Davis told news outlets more than 30 people have been reported missing. It was not immediately clear how many had lived at Brookside, located about 60 miles (96 kilometers) west of Nashville.
Four shelters were set up Saturday night for residents whose homes flooded, and a high school in McEwen was being used to reunite families. Phone lines knocked out during and after the storm complicated search efforts, the sheriff’s office said in a statement.
“There were people inside homes asleep and woke up to their house moving, like it was going down the creek,” said McEwen resident Michael Pate.
Just to the east of Waverly, the town of McEwen was pummeled with about 17 inches (43 centimeters) of rain in less than a day, prompting water rescues, road closures, and communications disruptions. That rainfall total smashed the state’s 24-hour record of 13.6 inches (34.5 centimeters) from 1982, according to the National Weather Service Nashville, though Saturday’s numbers would have to be confirmed. The service said no additional rainfall was expected Sunday.
Flood warnings remained in effect through Monday morning for Duck River near Hurricane Mills in Humphreys County and Piney River near Vernon in Hickman County.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee tweeted on Saturday, “Tennesseans, please stay cautious of rising floodwaters caused by heavy rainfall in parts of Middle TN. We are actively working with emergency response officials & first responders as they support Tennesseans in flooded areas.”
The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency activated its emergency operations center and said agencies that include the Tennessee National Guard, the state Highway Patrol, and Fire Mutual Aid were responding to the flooding. In a bulletin, TEMA called the situation “dangerous and evolving” and urged people to avoid travel in the affected counties.
Klein isn’t sure for what the future holds for his family or his town.
He also isn’t sure what happened to the two girls and the puppy he witnessed who had been clinging on to the board. He heard that a girl and a puppy had been rescued downstream, and that the other girl was also saved, but he wasn’t sure it was them.
“This is the third 100-hundred year flood that we’ve had in about 10 years,” referencing 2010 and 2019 floods. “But this is 100 times worse than either one of them was. … The last report I saw was there were 31 missing. This is a small town so the odds are I know most of those people.”