Ten people are dead and approximately 40 people are missing in Humphreys County, Tennessee after severe flooding rocked the community Saturday.
Crews were going house to house in search of the missing people late Saturday, said Humphreys County Sheriff Chris Davis. The flooding event is the worst he has seen in his 28 years with the department.
Power outages and a lack cell phone service has compounded the problems. Portable units will be brought in to help establish communication lines.
Rural roads and highways throughout Humphreys County were washed away Saturday.
State of emergency
The Tennessee National Guard was deployed to the county to assist residents there after up to 12 inches of rain fell in parts of Middle Tennessee on Saturday and caused catastrophic flooding.
Radar loop a few hours ago from devastating flooding in central Tennessee west of Nashville. pic.twitter.com/SKiMpKIw9b
— Ryan Maue (@RyanMaue) August 21, 2021
More than 15 inches fell in Humphreys County, prompting water rescues, flooding roadways and briefly closing a large section of Interstate 40. The Piney River also shattered record water levels, the National Weather Service Nashville reported.
— Erin Thomas (@ErinThomasWx) August 22, 2021
A state of emergency is in effect for Dickson, Hickman, Houston and Humphreys counties. A flash flood warning remains in effect until 11 p.m. The severe weather spurred a tornado warning Saturday evening.
The river gauge on the Piney River at Vernon is indicating a level of 31.8 feet. This well exceeds the historic crest of 20.08 feet set on February 7, 2019.
The dangerous flooding situation across western Middle Tennessee continues, even as rain dissipates this morning. https://t.co/3lDbIUL35w
— NWS Nashville (@NWSNashville) August 21, 2021
Humphreys County Chief Deputy Rob Edwards said several people were missing in a text message early Saturday afternoon.
The Tennessee Valley Authority said 14.5 inches fell in McEwen, which is in Humphreys County, and local totals may approach 17 inches as reports come in. NWS Nashville meteorologist Krissy Hurley told The Tennessean parts of Hickman County got 11.66 inches of rain early Saturday. Lyles, also in Hickman County, got 9.05 inches, according to volunteers who help measure rainfall for the agency.
The river gauge on the Piney River at Vernon in Hickman County measured nearly 32 feet Saturday, shattering the river’s record crest in 2019 by close to 12 feet, the NWS reported.
In Humphreys County, Hurley called the situation in cities like Waverly and McEwen a “dire, catastrophic situation.“
“People are trapped in their homes and have no way to get out,” she said. “Water is up to their necks. It is catastrophic — the worst kind of situation.”
The Tennessee Highway Patrol and Williamson County assisted affected counties Saturday. The Tennessee Department of Health is working with local nursing homes to make sure staff can access the facilities.
A large portion of Interstate 40 near mile marker 153 reopened after being closed in both directions near Bucksnort in Hickman County and part of Humphreys County due to the rain. Highway 70 in Waverly remained closed Saturday night from flooding.
At least 10 dead, 31 missing, during severe flooding in Tennessee. pic.twitter.com/49X2lqb2FB
— PM Breaking News (@PMBreakingNews) August 22, 2021
Four shelters opened Saturday to help people affected by the storms:
Waverly Church of Christ – 438 West Main St., Waverly
YMCA of Dickson County – 225 Henslee Drive, Dickson
First Baptist Church – 300 East Main St., Waverly
Fairfield Church of Christ – 1860 TN-100, Centerville
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee tweeted about the situation around 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
“Tennesseans, please stay cautious of rising floodwaters caused by heavy rainfall in parts of Middle TN,” Lee wrote. “We are actively working with emergency response officials & first responders as they support Tennesseans in flooded areas.”
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. https://t.co/GNO2scYvxs
— Gov. Bill Lee (@GovBillLee) August 21, 2021
The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency called the situation “dangerous and evolving” and urged people to avoid travel in the affected counties.
“We are working with local officials and first responders to provide resources and support,” TEMA said in a tweet.
Dickson County flooding subsides
Most flooding in Dickson had subsided by early afternoon Saturday after inches of rain prompted road closures and at least 11 water rescues. Old Pond Road was just one of the few roads that remained closed Saturday afternoon.
Roadways into Waverly were closed due to flooding and debris that littered two-lane serpentine roadways throughout Dickson. Trucks and ATVs crawled along Little Blue Creek Road in Dickson in an attempt to reach Waverly but were forced to turn around due to a flooded bridge.
Corn fields in Dickson were filled with rivers of water. Several driveways along the road were washed away by swift water.
Several people posted on social media in search of family members they were unable to reach in Waverly.
Multiple water rescue teams deployed
The Tennessee Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Team has deployed three teams to Humphreys County to help with water rescues, at the request of the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.
The Nashville Fire Department and the Nashville Office of Emergency Management is also sending four swift water rescue teams to Humphreys County, alongside teams from Williamson County.
The City of Dickson, where nearly 7 inches of rain fell, reported that emergency crews responded to 11 water rescue calls as of 8 a.m. Dickson County Emergency Management Director Rob Fisher said Dickson swift water rescue team was deployed all over the county.
Dickson County Public Works reported most flooding had subsided as of 12:30 p.m. with the exception of Old Pond Road.
Rare ‘flash flood emergency’ alert issued
The drastic rainfall prompted the NWS to issue a rare flash flood emergency for Houston, Humphreys, Dickson and Hickman counties.
“That’s about 20-25% of the yearly rain fall total that this area sees in a year, and we saw this morning,” Hurley, the meteorologist, said.
To think that we have seen a lot of rain here in West Tennessee, check out parts of Middle Tennessee. A flash flood emergency was issued this morning but flooding concerns continue this afternoon #tnwx pic.twitter.com/kqsJbz1uUW
— Shaley Dawson (@wxShaley) August 21, 2021
She said another 2-4 inches are possible as rain continues to pelt the area, but that the intensity of the rain will wane throughout the day.
Several roadways throughout Hickman County were also closed due to flooding, Hickman County Emergency Management reported.
Areas on the west side of Interstate 24 are likely to see the highest possibility of flooding. The NWS said Saturday morning there were multiple reports of water rescues, washed-out roads and significant flash flooding.
Meteorologists expect rain to persist through the morning and afternoon Saturday. Sunday might produce some drizzles, NWS said, but the most action is expected Saturday.
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