At Least 22 Deaths Destroyed by a Tidal Wave and Floodwaters


Volunteers distributed hot food, bottled water and supplies along the main street. Churches were turned into shelters. Some residents were struggling to get back to their homes, not knowing where to start.

“It smells like death,” said Ms. Burns, 43, describing the smell that attacked her as soon as she entered her home. “It’s a struggle.”

Richard Wheeler, a retired firefighter, said he went out to do errands on Saturday morning. He returns to discover that his house is in the middle of the road. He remembered floods from the past, including water flowing under his house.

“This is the worst of all,” he said. “This is the worst.”

As she stood on the front steps of the Church of Christ in Waverly, a man handed her a $20 bill, and a woman in a pink dress held her Bible and invited her to stay at her house. He said he was staying with his daughter, who lived in a town about 10 miles away.

“When it rains, it rains,” she told him, “and it rains on you.”

She swallowed after he left. He lived on his own. He was already sure what he thought the situation would be: his neighbors would take care of him. “This is a city that loves God very much,” he said.

Mr. Larkin, 62, was sitting on the floor with his back to the brick wall of the church hall, Capris Sun and cigarette in hand. He was tired. He was also physically aching from being whipped by the choppy water.

Still, he said he was grateful, repeating over and over how grateful he was to the rescuers who collected him, his wife, and his 11-year-old cat. This gratitude has replaced the sadness of being stranded in just your clothes right now. For now, Mr. Larkin and his wife were staying in the bunker and hoping to get into a motel.


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