The 7-month-old twins who died in catastrophic flooding in Tennessee over the weekend were “swept away” with all of their parents’ belongings, a relative said Monday.
The babies, Rileigh and Ryan, were their family’s “precious angels,” the relative, Jeanna Hall, said in a statement.
Two older siblings survived, Hall said.
The children’s father, Matthew Rigney, told WTVF-TV of Nashville that he awoke to a sudden surge of water that inundated the area Saturday after record rainfall. The surge burst through the door of his family’s apartment.
The children’s mother, Daniella Hall, escaped through a window to seek help as water deluged their home, Rigney told the station. The family’s 5-year-old was hanging from Rigney’s neck, a 19-month-old was on his hip, and the twins were in his arms, he said.
“The water, when it hit us, just pulled us under, all of us trapped underneath a bed,” Rigney told the station, adding: “I wish there was something I could have done.”
The twins’ bodies were found in the apartment, the station reported. They were among 22 people who authorities in Humphreys County have said died in the flooding.
Lucy Connor, 7, also died, her cousin Samantha told NBC News. She said her father tried to save the girl but only managed to rescue her aunt — who was pinned to the ceiling of her apartment — by tying a rope around the two of them and maneuvering them into his boat.
Samantha recalled Lucy as funny and smart and someone who loved to sing and dance.
“She loved her mother more than anything,” she said.
In Waverly, the small city where most of the deaths occurred, public safety chief Grant Gillespie told reporters Monday that the floods — which occurred after 17 inches rain fell in less than 24 hours — had made a “huge impact” on “this small community.”
“The town will wear these scars for many decades,” he said.
Gillespie said fewer than 10 people were still missing, down from more than 40 on Sunday.