Search efforts have been suspended in Tennessee following deadly flooding Saturday that left 20 people dead and hundreds of homes damaged or destroyed.
“The recovery of all 20 known flood victims has been made,” the Humphreys County Emergency Management Agency said in a statement Wednesday. Families of the victims are being notified.
“We’re sad that our count is now at 20, but we’re glad that our families now have the closure that they need to move on,” Waverly Police and Fire Chief Grant Gillespie said. “We’ve suspended all search operations. We no longer expect them to find any more victims, but we are still on standby if somebody is reported missing, to pick that search back up.”
Torrential storms that hit Middle Tennessee on Saturday — up to 15 inches of rain over a six-hour period, officials said — led to flash flooding, with several communities scrambling to safety to avoid the rising waters.
“With the recovery of all known victims, the transition will be made more fully into the cleanup process. A massive effort by the National Guard and Tennessee Department of Transportation will begin tomorrow for debris removal,” the Humphreys County Emergency Management Agency said.
Damage assessments are underway and as of Wednesday, 272 homes were destroyed, while another 168 had major damage and 31 had minor damage, the emergency management agency said.
To aid recovery from the catastrophic flooding, President Joe Biden approved a major disaster declaration, which will provide financial assistance to affected individuals and households in Humphreys County, Gov. Bill Lee said Tuesday. Those impacted can apply to FEMA’s Individual Assistance program.
On Wednesday, Lee announced that residents in the counties of Dickson, Hickman and Houston will also be eligible for assistance.
“We are working closely with the federal government and community leaders to ensure Tennessee’s flood-impacted counties get the help needed to effectively rebuild and recover,” Lee said.
“We’ve got some folks that are in their homes that had knee-deep, waist-deep water, that now the water has receded,” Humphreys County Sheriff Chris Davis said Tuesday.
“You’ve seen us get a little emotional through some of this,” Davis said. “You have to remember: These are people we know. These are people’s families that we know. These are people that we grew up with. This is just people of our small county. And it’s very close to us.”
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