NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Unrelenting rainfall in Nashville, Tennessee, turned roads to rapids, sweeping vehicles off the streets and drowning a motorist who was carried away, one of at least four people killed during a storm that continued to threaten the city Sunday, authorities said.
The water also gushed through neighborhoods, flooding houses and stranding dozens of people who needed to be rescued. And even after the rain stopped, officials urged residents to remain vigilant as the rivers and creeks coursing through Nashville continued to rise and were not expected to crest until late Sunday or early Monday.
“We’re not out of the woods yet,” Chief John Drake of the Nashville Police Department said during a news conference Sunday. “We still have to pay attention to it.”
Flash flood warnings continued into Sunday for a stretch of Middle Tennessee after more than 7 inches of rain had fallen in some parts of the region. It was the second-highest two-day rainfall in Nashville’s recorded history.
The pounding rain and climbing water rekindled for many the agonizing memories of a flood in 2010 that was among the worst in the city’s history, as 13 inches of rain fell over 36 hours, leaving 26 people dead and destruction that took months to clean up.
City officials said the enduring lessons from that flood informed the response this weekend, as the previous event had led to improved communications systems and the bolstering of the Fire Department’s swift water rescue capabilities.
The Fire Department rescued at least 130 people from automobiles, apartments and houses, including 27 swift water rescues, emergency officials said.
A 70-year-old man was found dead in his car, police said, after it had been submerged. In a nearby wooded area, a 46-year-old woman and a 64-year-old man were found dead in a homeless encampment, police said. The body of a 65-year-old man was also found on a golf course, according to police, who said it appeared he had been swept away by high water after getting out of a car.
Search and rescue efforts continued Sunday, authorities said, as water levels kept rising. The Cumberland River, which snakes through Nashville, climbed to flood stage Sunday afternoon and was expected to peak just after midnight Monday morning at nearly 42 feet, which is roughly 10 feet shy of the highest levels reached during the 2010 flood.