Heavy flooding in Tennessee has claimed the lives of 22 persons where 17 others are currently missing.
Already the officials have warned that the numbers for the devastating rains are preliminary.
About 22 people were killed and rescue crews were desperately searching Sunday for dozens of missing among destroyed homes and piles of debris after a rainstorm of historic proportions that caused flooding across central Tennessee.
Saturday’s flooding in rural areas washed away streets, cell phone towers and phone lines, preventing people from learning whether their loved ones survived the unprecedented flood. Emergency workers searched from house to house, said Kristi Brown, coordinator of health and safety oversight for Humphreys County Schools.
“Given the number of fatalities, I expect more recovery efforts than rescue efforts will take place at this time,” said Tennessee Director of Emergency Management Patrick Sheehan.
Among the dead are two twin babies who were dragged from their father’s arms, according to surviving family members, and a ranch foreman from county music star Loretta Lynn. The sheriff of this county of about 18,000, located about 60 miles west of Nashville, said he had lost one of his best friends.
Many of the missing life in neighbourhoods where the waters rose the fastest, according to the same county Sheriff Chris Davis. Their names were on a blackboard at the county emergency center and on a list posted on a police department Facebook page.
Among the deceased are two twin babies who were snatched from their father’s arms, according to relatives. The chief of police for the county, of about 18,000 residents and located about 60 miles (96 kilometers) west of Nashville, said he lost one of his best friends.
The county received up to 17 inches (43 centimeters) of rain in less than 24 hours on Saturday, breaking Tennessee’s record for a day by more than three inches (eight centimeters), according to the National Weather Service.
Photos posted on social media showed a row of houses almost submerged in brown water, cars overturned or stacked on top of each other, and roads covered in mud and debris.
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee toured the area, stopping on Waverly Main Street where homes were ripped off their foundations and people sifting through their soaked belongings.
Shirley Foster cried the moment the governor approached her. She indicated that she had just learned that a friend from her church was among the deceased. “I thought the commotion overall this was over. I feel torn by my friend. My house is nothing, but my friend is gone, ”Foster declared to the governor.
The worst-hit areas saw twice as much rain as the central Tennessee area had received in the worst previous flood scenario, according to forecasters. The storm swept through the area for hours, causing a record amount of moisture – a scenario that scientists have warned will become increasingly common due to global warming.
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