At least 21 killed in historic flood

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Torrential rains beginning late Friday night caused flash flooding in Waverly that destroyed many homes and claimed at least 21 lives with many more missing as of Monday afternoon.

The flash-flooding resulted from 17 inches of rain falling in Waverly in less than 12 hours, a record amount of rainfall for Tennessee. Interstate 40 was partially closed Saturday and Hwy. 70 West remained closed until Monday morning. Scenes from Saturday range from children stranded on rooftops to vehicles floating away. Parts of town, including the Waverly Plaza, home of Cash Saver, Dollar General, and other businesses, were totally destroyed. More than 3,000 properties were without power over the weekend with around 2000  outages extending into Monday.

The devastation caused by the flooding has been described by many as the worst they’ve ever seen, much worse than the floods of 2010. Heart-wrenching stories of lives lost are being told and will continue to be told for years to come. Some of the lost include heroes who put their lives on the line to save others. There are also heart-warming stories of those who made sacrifices for others. Giving up a portion of what they have to people who have lost everything.

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Local churches and emergency response organizations hurried Saturday to open their doors to those in need. The Waverly Church of Christ, First Baptist Church, First United Methodist Church, and others found ways to help by offering shelter, food, and essential supplies to those affected by the flood. The American Red Cross reported 93 shelter occupants Sunday night.

A boil water alert remains in place for the city of Waverly as crews continue work to repair water line breaks and restore service.

Humphreys County Schools have announced that they will be closed for the week, with reported damage to dozens of school buses and the interior of the school buildings. This week’s middle and high school sporting events have also been canceled county-wide.

The Tennessee Emergency Management Association (TEMA) has issued the following information online:

Crisis Cleanup
A Crisis Cleanup service is in place for Tennesseans who need help with debris removal and home cleanup from the recent flooding. All services are free, but service is not guaranteed due to the expected overwhelming need. Individuals needing assistance should call the hotline at 615-338-7404.

American Red Cross
The American Red Cross continues to serve those affected by the recent flooding. Emergency assitance is available to individuals whose homes were destroyed or majorly impacted. For more information, please contact the American Red Cross by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Give
In times of disaster, financial donations are the best way to aid those in need. Cash can be used immediately in response to a crisis, and allows disaster relief organizations to purchase exactly what is needed, when it’s needed. Cash gives relief organizations the means to procure supplies near the affected area, which cuts down on transportation time and cost. Monetary contributions also support local economies and ensure that businesses can operate when relief supplies diminish.

Tennessee Statewide Crisis Phone Line
Call 855-CRISIS-1 (855-274-7471) to speak with a caring, trained mental health professional, 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week, if you are experiencing a mental health emergency. You can also text TN to 741741.

SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline provides 24/7, 365-day-a-year crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters. The Disaster Distress Helpline, 1-800-985-5990, is a 24/7, 365-day-a-year, national hotline dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster. This toll-free, multilingual, and confidential crisis support service is available to all residents in the United States and its territories. Stress, anxiety, and other depression-like symptoms are common reactions after a disaster.  Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor. https://www.samhsa.gov/findhelp/disasterdistresshelpline

Avoiding Scams
While many people seek to help during times of disaster, unfortunately there is also an increased risk for scams and fraud. Watch out for upfront fees to help you claim services, benefits, or get loans. The Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs can be reached at 615-741-4737 or online at www.tn.gov/consumer.

Report Misconduct
The Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance licenses many of the professionals who play a role in rebuilding, including contractors, home inspectors, and insurance agents, among others. If you witness unlicensed activity or other potential violations of laws and rules involving our licensees, visit www.tn.gov/commerce to file a complaint.

Filing Insurance Claims
After a disaster, file your claim as soon as possible. Call your insurance company or agent with your policy number and other relevant information. Your policy may require that you make the notification within a certain time frame. Save all receipts, including those from the temporary repairs covered by your policy. TDCI’s Insurance Division can be reached at 615-741-2218 or online at www.tn.gov/commerce.

Hiring Contractors
Before hiring a professional such as a contractor, consumers should first verify that the individual is properly licensed to work in Tennessee by visiting www.verify.tn.gov to conduct a license check. Keep a record of your property damage and any repairs made to your property.

If you are dealing with a company or person who promises to remove debris from your property, ask them to list the services they will provide in writing. The Tennessee Board for Licensing Contractors can be reached at (615) 741-8307 or online atwww.tn.gov/commerce.

Always buy from a licensed seller and do your due diligence before you buy. The Tennessee Motor Vehicle Commission can be reached at 615-741-2711 or online at www.tn.gov/commerce.

Reconnecting to Electrical Power
Before power can be restored to a flooded home, a certified electrical inspector working with the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office must conduct visual inspections of locations impacted by floodwaters to assess potential damage. If it is determined that floodwaters did not reach electrical equipment, it will be left to thelocal power company to determine if electrical service may be turned back on. If minor damage from floodwater is observed, the replacement of receptacles and switches will be necessary to ensure the safe operation of electrical equipment with no need for further inspection.If the electrical inspector determines that floodwaters rose to a level that affected electrical equipment, the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office advises that the property owner work with a licensed electrician to  determine what components need to be replaced or repaired. In this event, a subsequent electrical inspection will be conducted before the property is re-energized. Homeowners insurance may help cover the cost of replacing appliances and other personal belongings and property that has been damaged. Questions? Consumers are urged to contact your insurance agent and/or company to discuss any available assistance and questions about your coverage.

Generator Safety, Avoiding Carbon Monoxide Poisoning:
With the loss of power due to the flooding, many people may rely on portable fuel-powered generators which are potential sources of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas created when natural fuels burn incompletely. Breathing high levels of carbon monoxide can cause loss of consciousness or even death. Never use a gas generator inside a home, garage, carport basement, crawlspace or outside near a window, door or vent. A generator should only be used outdoors and at least 15 feet away from buildings. It is dangerous to use a gas or kerosene heater inside a home or other building.