Tags: US | Severe | Weather | Tenn

Officials: at Least 5 Dead in Tenn. Flooding

Saturday, 01 May 2010 10:57 PM

At least five people had died and hundreds were being evacuated Saturday as flooding was reported across Tennessee and heavy rains continued to pound the state, officials said.

The forecast called for more rain through the weekend.

The five deaths reported in Stewart, Davidson, Williamson and Carroll counties were storm related, but the exact causes of the deaths were not yet known, Jeremy Heidt, spokesman for the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, said Saturday evening.

Hundreds of homes had been evacuated in Tennessee and shelters were being opened across the state for people stranded due to flooded roads.

Memphis received up to 10 inches or more of rain during the day and officials were warning that 4 - 8 more inches could fall overnight and into Sunday.

Heidt said crews were called out for swift-water rescues from Nashville to Memphis.

"It's so widespread, it's a very serious concern," he said.

The southwestern part of the state was extremely hard hit, with several Memphis-area streets declared impassable.

Corey Chaskelson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said a levee had been breached along the Big Creek River in Millington. He said 4 to 5 feet of water had flooded 200-300 homes at the Naval Support Activity base in Millington.

"Water rescue of people from their homes is still ongoing," he said Saturday evening.

Emergency officials in Shelby County said hundreds of people were being evacuated due to high water, including residents of the Navy base and inmates at a federal prison.

Bob Nations, director of the Shelby County Office of Preparedness, said most of the roads into and out of Millington had been cut off by flooding.

"Our weather forecast says we could get 4 to 8 inches tonight," he said Saturday evening. He advised people to stay off roads if possible.

Charles Shannon, a spokesman for the Nashville Fire Department, said one person drowned in flood waters on Interstate 24 south of Nashville.

In Nashville, emergency responders had rescued 50 people from flooding, Mayor Karl Dean said at a news conference Saturday night. Police Chief Ronal Serpas said two police officers had to be rescued from a tree.

"It is only going to get worse as the night goes on," Dean said.

Water was neck deep at a mobile home park that was evacuated Saturday morning, Millington Police Department Inspector Reggie Fields said. Two shelters have been set up and officials are trying to set up others because many people wouldn't be able to return home, he said.

The area hadn't seen such flooding in more than 20 years, he said.

A group of Shelby County firefighters on a rescue call ended up having to be rescued after their truck flipped on its side after being swept up in flood waters, Shelby County Fire Department spokesman Brent Perkins told WMC-TV.

Segments of Interstate 40 were closed between Nashville and Memphis. Pooling water in the median and along the sides of the highway gave some sections the appearance of a causeway. A sign in the east bound lanes outside Jackson warned drivers that there was "no detour" for a closed lanes on I-40.

The National Weather Service said up to 12 inches of rain had fallen along areas of Interstate 40 since midnight and up to 6 more inches was expected through Sunday.


AP Writer Kristin Hall in Nashville contributed to this story.

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At least five people had died and hundreds were being evacuated Saturday as flooding was reported across Tennessee and heavy rains continued to pound the state, officials said.The forecast called for more rain through the weekend.The five deaths reported in Stewart,...
Saturday, 01 May 2010 10:57 PM
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