Tennessee Woman Killed by Rising Floodwaters as She Streamed Live on Facebook

Tennessee Woman Killed by Rising Floodwaters as She Streamed Live on Facebook
Photo: Brett Carlsen, Getty Images

Rising floodwaters swept a Tennessee woman to her death on Saturday as she live streamed the harrowing ordeal on Facebook. In a video posted at 10:13 a.m., Linda Almond, 55, can be heard narrating as several feet of murky brown water rush past the window of her home that sat at the epicentre of Tennessee’s biggest rainstorm ever recorded.

“Well, if anybody’s seeing me on Facebook Live, we’re being flooded right now,” Almond said during the 70-second clip. “This is scary,” she added. “Really scary.”

Towards the end of the video, a man’s voice can be heard off-camera saying, “I think something just hit the side of the house.” Almond’s daughter, Victoria, told the Washington Post that her brother, Tommy, had been in the house with her mother during the flood. Just moments after the video cuts off, the house was reportedly “lifted off its foundation” by the coursing deluge, sending Linda and her son into the current.

“My brother went down for about 45 seconds underwater and when he came back up, he couldn’t find mum,” Victoria Almond said. “It was the last time he saw her.”

At least 22 people have been confirmed dead in Tennessee and at least 18 people were still missing on Tuesday morning after more than 43 centimetres of rain fell across the central part of the state, unleashing widespread flash floods. Waverly — the small town where Linda Almond lived — was among the hardest hit areas in the state. Two 7-month-old twins have also been counted among Waverly’s victims, swept from their father’s arms as he tried to cling to them during Saturday’s floods.

The role that climate change plays in an increasingly long list of extreme weather in the U.S. — which now includes flash floods, raging wildfires, extreme drought, and blistering heat — is undeniable. In the case of floods, a warmer atmosphere can hold more water. That, in turn, leads to downpours like the one that hit Tennessee — and like those we’ve seen around the world this summer from China to Europe. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report published this month found that intense rainfall is now 30% more common around the world.

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden approved an emergency disaster declaration for Humphreys County, Tennessee, which will reportedly free up federal aid to help with recovery efforts. The trend toward more extreme rainfall and the heartbreaking scenes in Tennessee and elsewhere show in addition to recovery, we urgently need to adapt to our soggier, more deadly climate.