Almond is one of at least 22 people killed by a devastating rainstorm in the Waverly region, located about 60 miles west of Nashville. Dozens more are still missing. The powerful rainfall began around 9 a.m. on Saturday. By the time the rain stopped, homes were destroyed — their insides scattered around town. Cars were swept away, and dirt covered the streets. An estimated 21 inches of rain fell over the area that day. Nine inches fell in just three hours, authorities said.
Almond, a South Florida native, had been living with her son in his new home in Waverly for the past few months, her daughter, Victoria Almond, 25, said. She recently spent months on a countrywide road trip with a friend and wanted to settle down for a bit to save money for a car.
“She was honestly happier than I had ever seen her,” Victoria said in an interview with The Post, adding that she had a strained relationship with her mother until a few years ago. “We had just really started rebuilding our relationship six months ago.”
It wasn’t until Saturday afternoon that Victoria opened Facebook to see her mother’s 10:13 a.m. live stream.
“That was when the real worry hit,” she said.
In the video, Linda Almond showed floodwaters rushing past the house. At one point, she became audibly startled.
“Whoa, whoa,” she said.
“I think something just hit the side of the house,” a second person, probably her son, Tommy Almond, can be heard saying in the video.
“This is scary,” she said. “Oh, my goodness, oh, my goodness.”
Victoria, who lives with her father in Clarksville, Tenn., about 45 miles northeast of Waverly, watched the video from a friend’s house, where she had stayed the night before. She didn’t have reliable cell service.
“I couldn’t contact her or Tommy,” she said. “The towers were down and I didn’t know what was going on.”
Her aunt phoned hours later after receiving a call from Tommy, 37.
“She was crying and said that Mom and Tommy were in danger and got caught in the flood,” Victoria said. Tommy had gotten to safety, but they had not yet found her mother.
Victoria finally talked to Tommy that night. He recounted the harrowing events from earlier that day. Linda Almond had been in poor health, Victoria said, noting that she was on disability for a bad back, so she knew her mother probably did not survive.
“I could hear it in his voice, the way he described it and his tone of voice — I already knew,” Victoria said. “It wasn’t confirmed, but I already knew.”
Tommy told Victoria they had just finished clearing the floor of their belongings when they noticed water flowing inside the house. Before they knew it, the home was flooded.
“My brother’s house was lifted off its foundation,” Victoria added.
At some point — Victoria is not sure how — the two found themselves in the heart of the floodwaters. They clung to a power line pole but soon had to let go when they saw a house floating directly toward them. They let go to avoid getting hit, Victoria said. She isn’t sure how long they held on.
“My brother went down for about 45 seconds underwater and when he came back up, he couldn’t find Mom,” Victoria said. “That was when they let go. It was the last time he saw her.”
Earlier, Tommy had told his mother to climb a tree, but she “was too scared,” Victoria said.
Tommy eventually found a roof that had collapsed to the water level and climbed on top of it to wait out the storm, Victoria said. He then walked down the streets until bystanders let him use their phone.
Authorities recovered Almond’s body on Sunday. Victoria’s aunt arrived at the hospital before the rest of the family. She identified Almond’s body, Victoria said.
“I refused to see my mom in that state,” Victoria said. “We’re not doing a viewing because Tommy didn’t want to see her again like that.”
As the family begins to process their loss, Victoria said Tommy is also dealing with the trauma he endured on Saturday.
“He really seems like he’s in shock,” Victoria said. “He was in the military and he said that flood was the scariest thing he’s ever been through.”
Tommy stayed with a friend Saturday night, Victoria said. When she asked if he wanted to take a shower, Tommy responded that he couldn’t stand the thought of being wet again.
Much of the family has gathered at Victoria’s father’s house, she said.
Almond will be remembered for her warm and caring personality, Victoria said. She saw her mom the weekend before the flood — the last time she would spend time with her in person. Almond gave her daughter a shirt from her cross-country trip.
“She taught me to always have an open mind and see both sides of the coin,” Victoria, who was considering a move to Waverly, said. “She wasn’t judgmental at all.”
Victoria is grappling with the unpredictability of grief but said she finds comfort in knowing her mother was the happiest she had been in the years leading up to her death.
“The thing I kept remembering while we were searching for her is her tattoo on her arm,” Victoria said. It was of the ichthys, or the “Jesus fish,” as Victoria called it.
“It said: ‘Faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love,’ ” she said, noting the quote from 1 Corinthians. “That’s what she lived her life by, and that’s what she taught me to live by.”