Tennessee floods map shows areas hit by flash flooding - what’s causing the devastating Tennessee floods and where are they?

At least 20 people have been killed by flash flooding sweeping through the heart of the US state of Tennessee in Humphreys County last weekend (21-22 August)

By Liv McMahon
Monday, 23rd August 2021, 9:47 am
Updated Monday, 23rd August 2021, 11:43 am
Tennessee flooding: areas of US state like Waverly hit by devastating flash flooding - here's what's causing the Tennessee floods and where they are (Image credit: Mark Humphrey/AP)
Tennessee flooding: areas of US state like Waverly hit by devastating flash flooding - here's what's causing the Tennessee floods and where they are (Image credit: Mark Humphrey/AP)

The US state of Tennessee has been hit by severe flooding after heavy rainfall saw lakes and rivers burst their banks in central, rural areas of the state.

Recent reports have confirmed that at least 20 people have died after being caught up in the floods and ensuing damage.

President Joe Biden said the federal state “stand ready to offer them support”.

Here’s what you need to know about the Tennessee flooding, including which areas have been worst affected and what’s causing the flash floods.

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Why is Tennessee flooding?

Despite being a landlocked state, bordering the southeastern US states of Missouri, Kentucky, North Carolina, Arkansas, Georgia, Virginia, Mississippi and Alabama, Tennessee is known for being a state rich in rivers, lakes and natural water sources.

Flooding has affected the landlocked state in the south east of the country, with the cities of McEwen and Waverly in Humphreys County dealing with considerable flood damage (Image created with Datawrapper)

Rural areas of the state are vulnerable to flooding due to their proximity to bodies of water which can swell and burst their banks on heavy rainfall.

Tennessee has seen devastating flooding over course of the last century.

In 2010, severe flooding saw the southern state and neighbouring states like Mississippi and Kentucky experience property damage of around $2.3 billion (£1.6bn).

The latest bout of flooding comes in the wake of severe weather worldwide recently, with heatwaves, wildfires and flash flooding seen across multiple continents in countries like Germany, Canada and Greece over the last two months.

Which Tennessee areas have been worst affected by flooding?

Recent reports state that the cities of Waverly and McEwen in Humphreys County, central Tennessee appear to be the worst impacted by flooding so far.

The Associated Press reported today (23 August) that 22 people in Waverly have been killed and no less than 40 people remain missing, according to local Facebook pages in the area.

Young children and elderly citizens are among those missing and deceased as a result of the sudden floods affecting a number of Tennessee areas while tropical storm Henri sweeps across northeastern US states like New Jersey.

The city of McEwen recorded 17 inches of rain on Saturday according to early reports from the National Weather Service (NWS) in the Tennessee state capital of Nashville.

US meteorologists at the NWS called the flooding “unprecedented”, tweeting from the NWS Nashville Twitter account early on Sunday morning to say that the 17 inches of rain measured in McEwen may have broken state-wide rainfall records.

While still yet to be confirmed, the figure is almost four inches higher than the previous 24 hour rainfall record for Tennessee – which saw 13.60 inches of rainfall measured in the city of Milan in September 1982.

Images posted on social media on Saturday showed vehicles and families stranded as water levels climbed in Waverly and flooding caused sweeping damage to schools, homes and public buildings.

The full extent of the damage was revealed as rain cleared in Tennessee on Sunday, with many journalists and members of the public saying that areas of Humphreys County looked like they had been hit by a tornado.

President Joe Biden tweeted to offer his “deepest condolences” to those now dealing with missing loved ones, loss of life and property in affected areas.

He said: “I send my deepest condolences for the sudden and tragic loss of life due to flash flooding in Tennessee.

“We’ve reached out to the community and will offer any assistance they need in this terrible moment.”

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