SWEPT TO THEIR DEATHS:Tennessee floods kill 15 people including twin babies swept away from their dad as more than 30 remain missing
Fifteen people have been killed and more than 30 are missing after heavy flooding hit parts of Tennessee on Saturday.
Among the dead were seven-months-old twins Ryan and Rieligh Rigney, who were pulled away from their father in a deluge when floodwaters swept through their apartment complex, NewsChannel5 reports.
Angie Cason, the twins’ grandmother, told the station how the twins were at home with their mother, father and their five-year-old and 19-month-old siblings, when water smashed through their home on Saturday morning.
The mother of the four children was swept away in the torrent but managed to make it to safety, while their father grabbed the twins and their two siblings.
But despite his best efforts, the twins were torn from his arms, and they went under the water and disappeared, their grandmother said.
Their bodies were recovered by rescue workers later on Saturday, Humphreys County Sheriff said.
The Humphreys County town of McEwen, located about 50 miles west of Nashville, was pummeled with 17 inches of rain on Saturday, prompting water rescues, road closures, and communications disruptions, AP reported.
That rainfall total smashed the region’s 24-hour record of 9.45 inches from 2010, according to the National Weather Service Nashville.
The catastrophic flooding washed away homes and rural roads, leaving 10 dead and more than 30 people missing, Humphreys County Sheriff Chris Davis said.
Sheriff Davis said no one should travel unless absolutely necessary, especially in Waverly. He also advised people to check on elderly and shut-ins.
McEwen and the nearby city of Waverly was facing a ‘dire, catastrophic situation,’ National Weather Service meteorologist Krissy Hurley told The Tennessean. ‘People are trapped in their homes and have no way to get out.’
Tennessee Emergency Management Agency declared a Level 3 State of Emergency in the state. The State Emergency Operations Center has been activated in Nashville to support local requests and respond as a result of catastrophic flooding in Middle Tennessee, WSMV-TV reported.
The Tennessee National Guard, Tennessee Department of Transportation, Tennessee Highway Patrol, Tennessee Department of Education, Tennessee Department of Health, Tennessee Department of Human Needs, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, fire mutual aid and more are responding to the flooding mission.
Waverly couple Cindy Dunn, 48, and her husband Jimmy, 49, were rescued from their attic by a crew who used a bulldozer to reach them.
‘Hell. That’s what we had to go through,’ Cindy Dunn said.
She told The Tennessean that her husband woke her up Saturday, telling her that floodwaters had pushed her car to their backyard. Eventually the water in their house rose to at least 6 feet (1.8 meters) high, forcing them to the attic. Dunn said the rooftop wasn´t an option.
‘My husband is dealing with cancer. He´s going through chemotherapy. And I am an amputee. So there was no going anywhere besides the attic,’ Dunn said.
Dunn said their home and neighboring houses ‘are gone.’
Hickman County Chief Deputy Rob Edwards said in a text message to the newspaper that several people are missing and cellphone service has been disrupted throughout the county.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee tweeted on Saturday, ‘Tennesseans, please stay cautious of rising floodwaters caused by heavy rainfall in parts of Middle TN. We are actively working with emergency response officials & first responders as they support Tennesseans in flooded areas.’