Twin babies among 22 people dead in US floods

·3-min read

At least 22 people, including infant twins, are dead and 50 are missing after devastating floods hit parts of the US state of Tennessee.

Record rainfall of up to 43 cm in some areas sparked massive flooding on Saturday afternoon and evening. Especially hard hit was the town of Waverly, about 88 km west of Nashville. 

Hundreds of homes were left uninhabitable and the town's mayor Wallace Frazier told the Tennessean newspaper that those killed in flooding ranged in age from babies to the elderly.

Among those who have been confirmed dead are seven-month-old twins, Ryan and Rieligh.

Seven-month-old twins Ryan and Rieligh are among the dead after flooding devastated Waverly in Tennessee. Source: GoFundMe
Seven-month-old twins Ryan and Rieligh are among the dead after flooding devastated Waverly in Tennessee. Source: GoFundMe

The twins' grandmother, Angie Cason told WTVF her daughter and son-in-law were with their four children when the floodwaters hit their apartment complex.

Ryan and Rieligh's mother was swept away, but managed to make it to safety, while their father grabbed them along with their five-year-old and 19-month-old siblings.

However, Ms Cason said the floodwater ripped the twins out of their father's arms.

WTVF reported the twins went underwater and later their bodies were recovered by first responders.

A GoFundMe page has been set up by the family to help cover funeral expenses and help the family out after their home was damaged by the flooding.

Heavy rains caused flooding Saturday in Middle Tennessee and have resulted in multiple deaths as homes and rural roads were washed away. Source: AP
Heavy rains caused flooding Saturday in Middle Tennessee and have resulted in multiple deaths as homes and rural roads were washed away. Source: AP

Floods destroy rural towns

The flooding uprooted massive trees, tore through homes and tossed cars and pick-up trucks into ditches and onto sheds and other structures.

Cindy Dunn, 48, told the Tennessean she and her husband had been stranded in their attic for several hours after floodwaters rose to 1.8m high in their home. 

The pair were saved by a rescue crew that raised the bucket of a bulldozer up to a window they could get through.

"Hell. That's what we had to go through," Dunn told the newspaper.

Business owner Kansas Klein watched in horror from a bridge as cars and entire houses were swept down a road in Waverly, a town of about 4500 people.

At least 22 people have been confirmed dead. Source: Sipa USA /AAP Image
At least 22 people have been confirmed dead. Source: Sipa USA /AAP Image

Two girls who were holding on to a puppy and clinging to a wooden board swept past, far too fast for Klein and other onlookers to go down and grab hold of them.

"It was amazing how quick it came and how quick it left," Klein, 48, said of the floodwater.

The Saturday morning deluge of between 25-30cm of rain in Humphreys County had caused floodwaters to reach 2.1m inside his eatery, rendering it a total loss.

"It was devastating: buildings were knocked down, half of them were destroyed," Klein said of the area that bore the worst of the flood.

"People were pulling out bodies of people who had drowned and didn't make it out."

The flooding in rural areas took out roads, phone 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.

With Reuters and Associated Press

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