Garry Cole, 70, was found dead Sunday in his vehicle, a Honda sedan submerged in floodwaters from a creek near a Walmart, according to police.
Two people were found dead near a homeless camp in an area affected by flooding from Seven Mile Creek, police said. Fredrick Richards, 64, was identified by police on Monday, and Melissa Conquest, 46, was identified by police on Wednesday after a police chaplain located and notified out-of-state family members.
“Metro is currently investigating four deaths believed to have been caused by the storm,” Nashville Mayor John Cooper (D) said at a Sunday news conference. “That is shocking, and we send our deepest sympathies to the loved ones of those who have died.”
Cooper said first responders were walking creek beds and working with the Red Cross to survey affected areas.
The torrents in Nashville resulted from a powerful storm system that swept through the Tennessee Valley and elsewhere in the South on Saturday.
The National Weather Service received more than 250 reports of severe weather from East Texas to North Carolina, including 16 reports of tornadoes, 100 instances of damaging winds and nearly 140 reports of large hail. The Weather Service issued a warning about a “large and extremely dangerous” tornado near Carthage, Tex., where local ABC affiliate KLTV reported major damage and one death.
Strong to severe thunderstorms erupted over Tennessee on Saturday afternoon and night, and flood warnings affected about half the state. A flash flood emergency, the most severe alert for rainfall, was issued in Nashville at 12:41 a.m. local time.
“This is a PARTICULARLY DANGEROUS SITUATION. SEEK HIGHER GROUND NOW,” the Weather Service wrote.
Nashville received 5.76 inches of rain Saturday, its fourth-wettest day on record. The rain ended around 7 a.m. Sunday local time, reaching a two-day total of 7.01 inches and marking its second-biggest two-day rainstorm on record. A wide swath of central Tennessee received four to eight inches of rain, with locally higher amounts.
Cooper referenced the catastrophic flooding that hit the area in 2010 and said that “lessons from the 2010 flood did help us prepare for an improved flood response,” noting the use of swift-water rescue teams.
That storm killed 18 people in Middle Tennessee, and the toll was at least 27 across Tennessee and Kentucky, according to the National Weather Service, and 13.57 inches of rain fell in total.
Much of the state flooded, including downtown Nashville, and it was around a 1-in-1,000-year event.
“We are grateful … to realize that this is not 2010, but the seven-inch rain — are we in a world where we have to anticipate that more frequently than every 10 or more years, and are we ready for 10 inches should that happen? Are we ready for this event to happen again?” Cooper said. “I’m going to challenge my colleagues in Metro government to have a response that’s appropriate to the kind of climate conditions that we seem to be entering into.”
By Sunday morning, the rainfall had subsided in most of Middle Tennessee, but water levels were still rising in some creeks and rivers, according to the Weather Service. It warned that flooded roads would continue to pose a risk through the day.
“We’re not out of the woods yet. This is still ongoing,” Drake said. “Although the water particularly may not be as eventful today, we still have to pay attention to it.”
Cars and homes were engulfed. Parking lots filled with water. Power lines were downed, leaving many in the dark.
Nashville emergency personnel were responding to multiple calls of people trapped as the waters rose. As of 7:30 a.m., crews had rescued at least 130 people from vehicles, apartments and houses, according to an online update.
Nashville Fire Chief William Swann said authorities are working with the Red Cross, the Community Resource Center of Nashville and Hands On Nashville, a nonprofit and a volunteer network, to assist residents displaced by the floods. Swann said some community centers have been opened for people to “come get a cup of coffee and relax.”
“We understand everybody’s anxiety,” Swann said.
Beginning at midnight Saturday through 6 a.m. Sunday, Nashville authorities reported 2,429 calls to 911 amid the weather event — a 40 percent uptick from the same period last week.
Swann said 71 transports were made to hospitals because of the flooding.
The storm system pushed through the Southeast and the Mid-Atlantic on Sunday, producing thunderstorms and scattered reports of damaging winds from Alabama and Georgia into Maryland and Pennsylvania.