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Major flooding leaves 22 dead in Tennessee amid devastating ‘loss and heartache’

Search crews across middle Tennessee are still looking through the debris of a flooded landscape. At least 22 people died in Saturday's disaster with a dozen others missing. Stephanie Sy reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Search crews across Middle Tennessee are still looking through a flooded landscape tonight. At least 22 people died in Saturday's disaster, with a dozen more still missing.

    Stephanie Sy has our report.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    Fire and police combed through wreckage and spent another day searching for possible victims and assessing the damage.

  • Kansas Klein, Business Owner:

    Houses are washed away, knocked off foundations, just totally gone.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    Some are still reported missing after the storm dumped 17 inches of rain in less than 24 hours, surpassing the state's previous single-day record by three inches.

    Some parts of the city of Waverly were almost unrecognizable.

    Governor Bill Lee toured the damage yesterday.

  • Gov. Bill Lee (R-TN):

    It is a devastating picture of loss and heartache in one of our Tennessee communities.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    Local authorities said this afternoon the next 24 hours of the search are crucial and difficult.

  • Man:

    There's still a lot of debris in and along the creek that needs to be examined. And that's a painstaking process.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    Police have not yet confirmed the names of the dead. But families say they ranged in age.

    An official confirmed to the "NewsHour" that 7-month-old twins were among the victims. A GoFundMe page said they were swept from their father's arms.

    Governor Lee said he spoke with families who described how quickly the situation turned life-threatening.

  • Gov. Bill Lee:

    They would see water in their yard and, within minutes, it was coming in their home. And then they would move to a neighbor who had a second floor, because, within — literally, within about a five or 10 minute period of time, they went from seeing floodwaters rise to not being able to escape their homes.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    Kansas Klein owns a business in Waverly.

  • Kansas Klein:

    I mean, it's a total loss. We had about six feet of water inside the restaurant. All the equipment, everything has been destroyed, flipped over, washed out.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    The rain and flooding in Tennessee are yet one more example of extreme weather's deadly consequences.

    While no single weather event can be directly linked to climate change, scientists say it's making events like this more intense and frequent.

    For the "PBS NewsHour" I'm Stephanie Sy.

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