Flooding Devastates Tennessee and Northeast U.S.

Image: NASA (Website) NOAA (Satellite), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer

In Tennessee, 22 people have been killed and dozens more have been declared missing after flash floods inundated the state. In the wake of this tragedy, emergency workers are searching door-to-door for missing persons.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Henri has induced heavy rain and flooding on much of the Northeast. New York City set a rainfall record and crew are working to restore power to tens of thousands of customers. This prompted President Biden to approve disaster relief for Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York while pledging support for Tennessee’s recovery.

Why This Matters: There are several factors that can contribute to the type of flooding brought by Henri and experienced in Tennessee, but a rapidly warming planet and a warmer atmosphere make it far more likely. As NPR explained, the amount of rain falling during the heaviest storms increased by almost a third in the Southeast U.S. between 1958 and 2016, according to the most recent National Climate Assessment. This is also thesecond major flooding event in Tennessee this year.

Unless nations take significant actions to curb emissions, this type of extreme weather will continue to devastate communities and claim lives. Unfortunately, Tennessee’s governor and junior U.S. Senator have been notorious climate deniers, refusing to address the root cause of the extreme weather plaguing their state.

Recovering From Devastation: At least 17 inches of rain fell in Humphreys County in less than a day, breaking Tennessee’s one-day record. Then, as Henri made landfall in Rhode Island, the storm left more than 120,000 homes without power. Providence, RI, and New Bedford, MA closed the hurricane barriers in their ports for the first time since Sandy in 2012.

As Henri moves across the Northeast, millions on Long Island and New England may be hit with coastal surges, flooding, toppled trees and fallen power lines.

Meanwhile, the situation in Humphreys County is still dire. Thousands of people still lack power as officials expect the death toll to rise in the coming days.

Tennessee’s Governor Bill Lee said: “The loss of life and property damage is devastating. Our hearts are with the many Tennesseans experiencing loss and heartbreak.”

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