At least 10 people were killed and about 40 others were missing Saturday after catastrophic floods swept through Central Tennessee, authorities said.
Rob Edwards, chief of the Humphreys County Sheriff’s Office, confirmed the number of missing and dead said authorities conducted house-to-house checks in the hardest-hit areas of Humphreys, a rural county of about 18,500, about 72 miles west of Nashville.
There were “power outages all over the area,” Deputy Edwards said in an email. “Complicating issues is the loss of all cell phone coverage from the major carriers,” he added.
Portable communication devices were brought in to help restore the service, he said.
“We have lost many roads, both rural and major highways,” he said. “In my 28 years, it’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen.”
The devastation came after an estimated eight to ten inches of rain flooded Dickson, Hickman, Houston and Humphrey counties, the National Weather Service said Saturday morning.
On Saturday night, officials reported that some areas had received more than a foot of rain.
In McEwen, a small community in Humphreys County, just over 17 inches of rain had fallen, setting a new 24-hour rainfall record for the region, the weather service said.
Local news channels showed rising, mud-brown floods that submerged houses almost to their roofs, washed across highways and turned trucks and cars.
Tennessee Emergency Management Agency said the state emergency center had been activated in Nashville to support water rescues and other urgent requests for help from local officials.
“Our first priority is to help respondents access the area and carry out rescue operations,” said Major General Jeff Holmes, Adjutant General of the Tennessee National Guard. wrote on Twitter. “We will continue to increase the number of forces that the situation dictates, and we will place additional special units to respond as needed.”
At least 4,200 people across the state had lost power, according to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency. It said floods in the affected counties were “dangerous and under development”, and it urged residents to stay off the roads, charge electronic devices and monitor the news.
“Do not attempt to cross flooded roads or footbridges,” the agency said. “Turn around, do not drink.”
Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative said it could take several days to restore power and broadband service to the area.
The tool said its Humphreys County office was flooded and could be “a total loss” and that trucks and equipment had been damaged. Most employees could not reach the office due to the flooded roads, the cooperative said.
“The safety and well-being of our communities, staff and rescue efforts are top priorities right now,” said Keith Carnahan, President and CEO of the Cooperative, in a announcement. “It’s devastating conditions to work under, but our employees and their heart for service rise in the long days ahead as our hometowns begin to heal.”
Waverly Elementary School in Waverly, Tenn., Humphreys County seat, was “completely flooded” with water “4 feet deep throughout the school,” according to its Facebook page.
Two women had been stranded in the school gym with some of their family members, a post read. A later post said they “were no longer at school and on dry land.”
“Keep praying for our community!” it read.
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