At least 10 people have been killed, including twins who were swept from their father’s arms, according to surviving family members.
Authorities fear the death toll will rise.
Floods in rural areas destroyed roads, cell phone towers and phone lines, leaving families in doubt as to whether their loved ones survived the unprecedented flood. Rescuers were going door to door, said Kristi Brown, Humphreys County School Health and Safety Supervisor Coordinator.
Humphreys County Sheriff Chris Davis said Sunday many missing people lived in areas where the water rose fastest.
Up to 430mm (17 inches) of rain fell in the county in less than 24 hours on Saturday, appearing to break Tennessee’s record for one-day rainfall of over 76mm (3 inches), the National said. Weather Service.
The hardest-hit areas have seen double the rainfall that the Middle Tennessee region had in the previous worst-case flood event, meteorologists said. Storm lines have moved over the region for hours, squeezing out a record amount of moisture – a scenario scientists say may be more common due to global warming.
The downpours quickly turned the streams that run behind the backyards and through downtown Waverly into raging rapids. Kansas Klein business owner stood on a bridge in the city of 4,500 on Saturday and saw two girls clinging to a puppy and clinging to a plank of wood as the current was too fast for that anyone can grasp them.
He is not sure what happened to them. Klein heard that a girl and a puppy had been rescued downstream, and another girl had also been rescued, but he wasn’t sure it was them.
By Sunday, the floodwaters were gone, leaving behind wreckage of wrecked cars, demolished businesses and homes and a chaotic, tangled mix of things inside.
“It was amazing how far it came and how quickly it went,” Klein said.
The Humphrey County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page filled with people looking for missing friends and family. GoFundMe pages were set up to ask for help with funeral costs for the dead, including seven-month-old twins torn 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 social housing area known as Brookside appeared to have been hit the hardest by the flash flood.
“It was devastating: buildings were knocked down, half of them were destroyed,” Klein said. “People were removing the bodies of people who had drowned and did not get out. “
Davis told media on Saturday the 10 confirmed deaths and more than 30 missing in his county, located about 96 km (60 miles) west of Nashville.
The dead ranged from babies to the elderly and included one of his best friends, the 18,000-person county sheriff told WSVM-TV on Sunday.
“Small town, small community. We know each other. We love each other, ”Davis said.
Just east of Waverly, the town of McEwen was hit by 432mm (17 inches) of rain on Saturday, breaking the state record of 345mm (13.6 inches) since 1982, according to the National Weather Service from Nashville, though Saturday’s numbers are expected to be confirmed.
A flash flood watch was issued for the area before the onset of rain, with forecasters saying 100-150mm (4-6 inches) of rain was possible. The worst storm on record in that region of Middle Tennessee dropped just 230 mm (9 inches) of rain, said Krissy Hurley, a meteorologist with the Nashville Weather Service.
“Almost predicting a record is something we don’t do very often,” said Hurley. “Double the amount we’ve ever seen was almost unfathomable. “
Recent scientific research has determined that extreme rainfall events will become more frequent due to human-induced climate change. Hurley said it was impossible to know his exact role in Saturday’s flooding, but noted last year that his office had dealt with floods that were expected perhaps once every 100 years in September south of Nashville and in March closer to the city.
“We had an incredible amount of water in the atmosphere,” Hurley said of Saturday’s flooding. “Thunderstorms have developed and moved through the same area over and over again. “
The problem is not confined to Tennessee. A federal study found that human-caused climate change is doubling the chances of the types of heavy downpours that, in August 2016, dumped 660 mm (26 inches) of rain around Baton Rouge, Louisiana. These floods killed at least 13 people and damaged 150,000 homes.