22 dead, many missing after 17 inches of rain in Tennessee

By Jonathan Mattise and Jeffrey Collins

A truck and a car sit in a creek Sunday, Aug. 22, 2021, after they were washed away the day before in McEwen, Tenn. Heavy rains caused flooding in Middle Tennessee and have resulted in multiple deaths as homes and rural roads were washed away. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

WAVERLY, Tenn. (AP) — At least 22 people were killed and rescue crews searched desperately Sunday amid shattered homes and tangled debris for dozens of people still missing after record-breaking rain sent floodwaters surging through Middle Tennessee.

Saturday’s flooding in rural areas took out roads, cellphone towers and telephone lines, leaving families uncertain about whether their loved ones survived the unprecedented deluge. Emergency workers were searching door to door, said Kristi Brown, a coordinator for health and safety supervisor with Humphreys County Schools.

Many of the missing live in the neighborhoods where the water rose the fastest, said Humphreys County Sheriff Chris Davis, who confirmed the 22 fatalities in his county. The names of the missing were on a board in the county’s emergency center and listed on a city department’s Facebook page.

“I would expect, given the number of fatalities, that we’re going to see mostly recovery efforts at this point rather than rescue efforts,” Tennessee Emergency Management Director Patrick Sheehan said.

The dead included twin babies who were swept from their father’s arms, according to surviving family members, and a foreman at county music star Loretta Lynn’s ranch. The sheriff of the county of about 18,000 people some 60 miles (96 kilometers) west of Nashville said he lost one of his best friends.

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