Record-breaking rain caused floodwaters to surge across Middle Tennessee on Aug. 21. At least 22 people are dead with dozens still missing.
“Things are moving fast, and we are finding people left and right,” Humphreys County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Rob Edwards said according to the New York Post.
The National Weather Service reported up to 17 inches (43 centimeters) of rain fell in Humphreys County in less than 24 hours, breaking the Tennessee record for one-day rainfall by more than 3 inches (8 centimeters), according to the National Public Radio.
Twins Ryan and Riliegh, 7 months, were swept out of their father’s arms in Waverly during the flood. They did not survive and their bodies have since been recovered, according to the paper.
Sheriff Chris Davis fought back tears as he revealed that one of his best friends was also among the many victims.
“They just went and got one of my best friends and recovered him–he drowned in this,” he said according to WSMV. “It is tough but we are going to move forward.”
Many missing people live in areas where the water rose fastest. Their identities are published on a noticeboard in the county’s emergency center, and on the city Facebook page.
According to a sheriff’s office at least 21 people died from the flood. A representative confirmed about 50 people are missing, with the figure “constantly changing.”
“We are working very diligently to identify, photograph, reunite and get some questions answered for families and that kind of thing right now, and that is really tough, considering our logistics with our phones, with our communications,” Davis said according to NBC News.
Authorities revealed shelters have been set up for residents in Waverly, Dickson, and Centerville. A reunion center has also opened at McEwen High School.
A Blackhawk helicopter, 12 medium tactical vehicles, and eight high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles were sent to support rescue efforts. More than 50 troops from the Volunteer State’s National Guard have also been deployed.
“We will continue to increase the number of forces as the situation dictates, and we will be positioning additional specialty units to respond as needed,” David said according to the broadcaster.
Nearly 50 Soldiers with 12 Light Medium Tactical Vehicles and eight Humvees from units in Dickson, Lexington, Trenton, and Waverly are traveling to the affected area to provide rescue support.— Tenn. National Guard (@TNMilitaryDept) August 21, 2021
The sheriff expects a countywide curfew to stay in effect until Aug. 29. Affected people should avoid visiting Waverly, one of the hardest-hit towns, unless it is absolutely essential.
“We would rather just ask you not to come into Waverly, if you do not have to,” he said. “It helps us control that and minimize the dangers that we have.”
A federal study blamed man-made climate change for doubling the chance of heavy downpour. This includes a 2016 storm that dumped 26 inches (66 centimeters) of rain around Baton Rouge, La. At least 13 people died in those floods, and 150,000 homes were damaged.