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Middle Tennessee Deals With The Aftermath Of A Weekend Of Heavy Rain

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

A flash flood ravaged middle Tennessee over the weekend, resulting in at least 21 deaths and 10 people missing. Record-breaking rainfall and surging water swept homes off their foundations, overturned cars, trucks and caused power outages. For the latest developments, we have Humphreys County Sheriff Chris Davis on the line with us this morning. Sheriff Davis, welcome.

CHRIS DAVIS: Good morning, ma'am.

FADEL: Good morning. Can you give us the latest update on the situation in your county?

DAVIS: Yes, ma'am. Yesterday afternoon, we - so me and some of the other administrators of the city and county - we was able to get into a helicopter situation. Our damage is going to be much more massive than what we thought. We - yesterday, somewhere around 2 p.m., we were reporting that we had probably 20-something houses - now, I'm just talking about this very specific thing - 20-something houses that had been removed from their foundations. Not - that's not close. We're well over 100, well over 100 to 125 houses that have been removed from their foundation, gone or just no longer exist. And - but that is on the minor side were in the hundreds of houses, hundreds of homes, hundreds of families that this has been - that has been displaced or that has caused damage to their house, whether water got inside of it, or they're not, you know, able to stay in the residence in some way, form or fashion. But that number I talked about, that's actually, like I say, houses that the water has either twisted the foundation, gone and/or destroyed those homes.

FADEL: So where do these people go?

DAVIS: Well, that is one of the things that we are really trying to formulate plans today. Like I say, we're - right now, we know that most of them are staying with other family members or other people. We do have our shelters open. The facilities in - excuse me - the churches inside the city and county right now have opened their doors. We're being blessed with a surplus of materials coming in. So...

FADEL: I know this is really difficult. Have you ever had to deal with such devastation in your county before?

DAVIS: You know, we had a huge - we had a similar flood back in 2010. And the difference between - this one is much more massive. We had about 13 inches of rain that went through our city and county during that time period with some pretty massive damage. But this - we're looking at 4 1/2 more inches of rain that caused this. And this one was much faster. It was up. I mean, it was - you know, how many times can you be standing inside of a business in the middle of our city, and you see water coming in the door, and then all of a sudden, you see water come through the door in a way that - it busted, that it burst through the doors and knocked you down and then took you out into the parking lot and swept you away? Well, that was exactly the situation that we got a hold of yesterday.

One of the gentlemen tried to rescue this lady. They were holding onto a pole. They got separated. A Coke machine comes floating down, hits the pole that they were holding. And she's gone. So it's a very devastating, very devastating - the more stories we hear, the more devastation that we're sad, just very sad to get.

FADEL: I understand one of your close friends died in the flooding. I'm so sorry for your loss.

DAVIS: I appreciate that, ma'am. Yes, ma'am. He was the ranch manager out at Loretta Lynn's.

FADEL: Humphreys County Sheriff Chris Davis, thank you so much. And stay safe.

DAVIS: Yes, ma'am. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.