Southern floods, storms kill 28

ASHLAND CITY, Tenn. — From the deck of a friend's motorboat, Peggy Martin leaned over to peer into the window of her duplex on the west bank of the Cumberland River in this town 17 miles west of Nashville. All she saw was murky river water.

The restaurant where Martin waits tables and the lube shop where her son Chris Wampler works were both underwater Monday from floods that ravished much of middle and western Tennessee, and parts of Kentucky, Alabama and Mississippi. Deaths from the weekend storms climbed to 28.

"The hard part is knowing there's nothing left," Wampler, 22, said.

Despite dry weather in the forecast, flooded rivers will take "several days to recede," said Mike Eckert, with the National Weather Service. Cumberland River in Nashville was likely to crest around midnight at 52.5 feet, 12.5 feet above flood stage.

Eighteen fatalities had been confirmed across Tennessee, according to the state Emergency Management Agency and Nashville city spokeswoman Janel Lacy.

Storms killed six people in Mississippi, said Jeff Rent, with the state Emergency Management Agency. In Kentucky, four people died from flood-related causes, the Associated Press reported.

In Cheatham County, Tenn., about 1,200 people were left stranded by rising waters Monday afternoon, said Edwin Hogan, director of the County Emergency Management Agency. "It's a catastrophe," Hogan said. "We're talking about places that have never flooded before."

"The water got to the gutters of my house," said Rocco Gogliotti, of Cheatham County. He had to swim to recover his canoe, then paddled back to rescue his wife and dog.

The state was helping sandbagging operations at the MetroCenter levee in Nashville, Lacy said.

Tanisha Hall, owner of Fleur de Lis Flavors at the Farmer's Market downtown, said she was shocked when she saw her store Monday: "All of the flea market vendors, their stuff is floating everywhere."

The state Department of Correction reported evacuating 250 inmates from a Nashville prison.

The Nashville Area Red Cross, which serves 36 counties in middle Tennessee, sheltered 2,000 people and fed more than 3,000 Monday, spokesman Mitch Turner said.

"Our primary focus is making sure people have somewhere to stay," he said.

Mayor Jerry Gist of Jackson, Tenn., toured his city in a Blackhawk helicopter with Gov. Phil Bredesen. "It looked like a sea with small islands out in the water," Gist said.

Rushing water damaged culverts, bridges and roads and inundated hundreds of homes, Gist said. He said he hopes President Obama will declare a national disaster and provide cleanup funds.

Walt Randolph surveyed his Riverview Restaurant and Marina in Ashland City on Monday. His walk-in freezer bobbed in the water, with 100 cases of catfish and 40 cases of beer ruined inside. "I expected the worst," he said. "It's about what I expected."

 

4.5.10 05:24

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