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This Is The Devastation The Deadly Flooding Wrought In Tennessee

Brian Mitchell, right, looks through the damaged home of his mother-in-law along with family friend Chris Hoover, left, Sunday, Aug. 22, 2021, in Waverly, Tenn. Heavy rains caused flooding Saturday in Middle Tennessee and have resulted in multiple deaths as homes and rural roads were washed away.
Brian Mitchell, right, looks through the damaged home of his mother-in-law along with family friend Chris Hoover, left, Sunday, Aug. 22, 2021, in Waverly, Tenn. Heavy rains caused flooding Saturday in Middle Tennessee and have resulted in multiple deaths as homes and rural roads were washed away.

Some areas in Tennessee saw almost a quarter of their average annual rainfall in only a few hours over the weekend— and the rain brought devastating flash flooding too. At least 21 people are dead and dozens are still missing as residents continue to assess the damage.

Within a six-hour period, 9 to 17 inches of rain fell across a portion of Middle Tennessee. Once confirmed by researchers, that rainfall will likely top the state's record for most rainfall in 24 hours. In Dickson County, Chief Deputy Teddy Murphy reports flash flooding destroyed houses and washed away some major roadways.

Vehicles come to rest in a stream Sunday, Aug. 22, 2021, in Waverly, Tenn. Heavy rains caused flooding Saturday in Middle Tennessee and have resulted in multiple deaths as homes and rural roads were washed away.
Mark Humphrey / AP
Vehicles come to rest in a stream Sunday, Aug. 22, 2021, in Waverly, Tenn. Heavy rains caused flooding Saturday in Middle Tennessee and have resulted in multiple deaths as homes and rural roads were washed away.

Philip Albritton and his family were caught in the surge.

"There was water up to my knees at the front porch. And my brother-in-law had my daughter, one of my daughters in his arms, and he was waist-deep in water. My other daughter was climbing on my wife. And my dogs were swimming."

By the time Hope Collier and her grandmother realized they needed to escape the waters, it was too late — their Jeep disappeared and was later found in a tree. The force of the water dragged Collier into the flood and the powerful current swept her for more than half a mile before she escaped. She says it was like, "a roller coaster with no rules."

Collier and her grandmother survived, and Collier spoke with Caroline Eggers from NPR member station WPLN about the disaster. You can listen to her story here.

A woman looks at debris washed up against a bridge over a stream Sunday, Aug. 22, 2021, in Waverly, Tenn. Heavy rains caused flooding Saturday in Middle Tennessee and have resulted in multiple deaths as homes and rural roads were washed away.
Mark Humphrey / AP
A woman looks at debris washed up against a bridge over a stream Sunday, Aug. 22, 2021, in Waverly, Tenn. Heavy rains caused flooding Saturday in Middle Tennessee and have resulted in multiple deaths as homes and rural roads were washed away.

This is at least the second major flooding incident in Tennessee this year, after Nashville got hit in late March, and tracks with predictions of how climate change is shaping and will shape the state. The EPA has said there will be increased flooding, and a tool from Climate Central estimates that more than a quarter million Tennesseans live at greater risk of flooding as the climate heats up.


  • NPR Member station WPLN in Nashville has more coverage of the historic floods.
  • The Tennessean is on the ground in Middle Tennessee covering the aftermath. See their reporting here.
  • And here's how you can help those impacted by the floods

  • This story first appeared in the Morning Edition liveblog.

    Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.