Flooding in Tennessee leaves 16 dead, 51 more missing

Search and rescue efforts are underway in the county and town of Waverly, the county seat, the agency said in a statement on Sunday.

“We ask residents to stay away from neighborhoods and roads while rescue efforts are underway,” Waverly Public Safety Chief Grant Gillespie said in the statement.

An 8 p.m. curfew will remain in place tonight, the statement said.

Humphreys County Sheriff Chris Davis earlier told CNN affiliate WSMV that between five and seven of the missing are children. The missing people largely come from an area of ​​the county that has been hardest hit by the rising waters.

Those who have died range from “children to the elderly,” Davis said. He previously told the station that two toddlers were among the dead.

“They went to get one of my best friends and got him back. He drowned in it,” the sheriff said, more and more moved. “It’s tough, but we’ll move on.”

Tennessee Emergency Management teams are on site helping to set up shelters for affected residents. Davis said a curfew will remain in place. He asked people not to come to Waverly unless absolutely necessary.

“We’d rather just ask you not to enter Waverly if you don’t have to,” Davis told WSMV. “It helps us control this and minimize the dangers we have.”

According to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, affected counties include Humphreys, Hickman, Houston and Dickson, and drivers have been advised not to attempt to cross the flooded roads.

A reunification center has been opened at McEwen High School, the sheriff’s office said. Shelters have been opened in Waverly, Dickson and Centerville, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency said in a statement on Saturday evening.

According to the National Weather Service in Nashville, more than 17 inches of rain was measured at McEwen on Saturday, possibly setting a new state record for 24-hour precipitation, although the data has yet to be verified before the new record is official. The previous record was set in September 1982 with 13.6 inches of rain in Milan, Tennessee.
“It looked more like a hurricane or a tornado that had passed through the area”, Steve Smith, Program Director and Storm Watcher in Huntsville, the Alabama WZYP informed CNN of the damage it saw in Waverly.

Many public agencies have responded, TEMA said, including the Tennessee National Guard, the state Department of Transportation, the Tennessee Highway Patrol and the Tennessee Department of Health.

The Tennessee National Guard said on Saturday night it was deploying nearly 50 troops to respond to severe flooding and had sent a Blackhawk helicopter to the scene to assist with water rescues. Tactical vehicles and Humvees are also used in rescue operations.

“Our first priority is to help responders access the area and conduct rescue operations,” Major General Jeff Holmes said in a tweet. “We will continue to increase the number of forces depending on the situation and we will position additional specialized units to meet the need.”

The deadly flash flood event – along with the extreme precipitation seen in New York City thanks to Hurricane Henri – is increasingly common due to man-made global warming, scientists say. A recent UN climate report stated that “the frequency and intensity of heavy rainfall events have increased since the 1950s over most of the land area”.

CNN’s Andy Rose and Alaa Elassar contributed to this report.

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