Catastrophic floods in Middle Tennessee in the US leaves at least 22 people dead and 50 people still missing following record heavy rainfall.
What is Happening?
- At least 22 people have died and 50 others remain missing after severe flash floods swept through Humphreys County in Middle Tennessee, US, on Sunday August 22.
- The sudden flash floods were brought on by record heavy rain and Tropical Storm Fred that arrived over the Southeastern region of the US. An estimated 17 inches of rainfall was recorded on Saturday alone, breaking the state’s previous 24-hour record by more than three inches.
- The local county sheriff’s office confirmed the number of fatalities after conducting house-to-house checks in the rural county, which has a population of about 18,500.
- According to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, at least 4,200 people across the state of Tennessee had lost power in their homes and a “staggering” amount of homes have been lost as a result of the flooding.
- The state had sent out 50 soldiers and tactical vehicles, as well as a Blackhawk helicopter to assist residents in heavily affected areas.
- Rescue operations are still currently underway as 50 people remain missing. However, widespread loss of power and cell phone services across the county have made it difficult to reach victims, which could account for its current rate of missing persons.
- Significant damage has been inflicted to a number of homes and infrastructure across the county and local officials have not ruled out asking for federal assistance for long-term recovery.
- Much like the catastrophic floods that occurred in Germany and China in July, residents in the county only had minutes to move into safe zones or protect themselves against the oncoming floods.
- “It is a devastating picture of loss and heartache,” said Bill Lee, the Governor of Tennessee. He adds that the extreme weather event is “a record flood like that community has not seen before.”
- The US is expecting even more rainfall and severe storms as Hurricane Henri arrives over the east coast. The storm have already knocked out power to more than 140,000 homes and left roads submerged in water in areas like New York and Rhode Island.
- Experts say while it’s difficult to link climate change as the direct cause of these flash floods, the “frequency and intensity of heavy precipitation events have increased since the 1950s over most land areas,” according to a recent climate report by the UN.
Featured image: aerial of flooding in Tennessee in 2010. Photo by U.S. National Archives & DVIDS.