Aug. 22 (UPI) — At least 21 people are dead following heavy flooding in Tennessee, emergency officials said on Sunday.
Humphreys County Sheriff Chris Davis told The Tennessean that in addition to the 21 dead crews were still searching for dozens more missing people after more than 15 inches of rain fell in the area.
“People are trapped in their homes and have no way to get out,” National Weather Service Nashville meteorologist Krissy Hurley said. “Water is up to their necks. It is catastrophic — the worst kind of situation.”
Two of the bodies recovered were toddlers who were swept away from their father by the storm.
The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency declared a Level 3 State of Emergency in the state, urging residents in Middle Tennessee to avoid driving or crossing flooded roads or walkways.
A state of emergency was also in effect for Dickson, Hickman, Houston and Humphreys counties while a flash flood warning is in effect until 11 p.m.
An 8 p.m. curfew also remained in place Sunday.
The Tennessee National Guard deployed 50 soldiers to respond to the flooding and participate in rescue efforts.
“Our first priority is to assist with getting responders access to the area and conduct rescue operations,” Maj. Gen. Jeff Holmes said in a tweet. “We’ll continue to increase the number of forces as the situation dictates and we’ll be positioning additional specialty units to respond as needed.”
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee urged caution in a tweet on Saturday afternoon.
“Tennesseans, please stay cautious of rising floodwaters caused by heavy rainfall in parts of Middle TN,” he wrote. “We are actively working with emergency response officials and first responders as they support Tennesseans in flooded areas.”