MEMPHIS — A devastating and deadly line of thunderstorms rocked Tennessee and northern Mississippi over the weekend, killing at least 11 people, closing scores of highways, and leaving weeks of cleanup for thousands of residents whose homes were damaged.
Thousands of residents were evacuated and hundreds of others were rescued from their homes — with some plucked from rooftops — as flood waters from swollen rivers and creeks inundated neighborhoods across the region. Hospitals, schools and state buildings also were flooded.
State officials in Tennessee said Sunday the flooding is as bad as they've seen since the mid-1970s. Tornadoes or high winds killed at least four people, unexpected flash floods swept some unsuspecting residents to their deaths and an untold number of homes were flooded as urban drainage systems and watersheds struggled to remove the deluge.
Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen called it an "unprecedented rain event," but that failed to capture the magnitude. More than 13 inches of rain fell in Nashville over a two-day period, nearly doubling the previous record of 6.68 inches that fell in the wake of Hurricane Fredrick in 1979.
At least seven people died in Tennessee and an eighth is missing and presumed dead. Three in northern Mississippi were killed when their homes were destroyed by tornadoes and a fourth died after he drove into flood waters.