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‘I failed them’: Father of 7-month old twins killed in Tennessee floods says


Seven-month old twins, Ryan (right) and Riliegh (left) were torn from their father’s arms in catastrophic flooding that engulfed their Tennessee apartment Sunday

A pair of 7-month old twins were torn from their father’s arms in catastrophic flooding that engulfed their Tennessee apartment Sunday. 

Matt Rigney said he had limited time to react to rainfall that claimed the lives of his twins, Ryan and Riliegh in Waverly, where 17 inches of rain fell. 

‘We woke up and water was filling our apartment,’ Rigney told WTVF-TV.  

Rigney and his wife, Danielle Hall, moved into the apartment with their twins and their two additional children – 19-month-old Brayla and 5-year-old Maleah – two weeks before the tragedy. 

Rigney and Hall described to WTVF-TV how the water began to rage through their apartment where they attempted to shelter with their four children.

‘I had the twins in my arms, I had (19-month-old) Brayla on my hip and I had (5-year-old) Maleah wrapped around my neck,’ Rigney told the news station, his voice trembling behind tears. 

‘The water, when it hit us, it just pulled us under, all of us and we were trapped underneath a bed.’ 

Matt Rigney (pictured) said he had limited time to react to the surge of rainfall that claimed the lives of his twins, Ryan and Riliegh in Waverly, where 17.02 inches of rain fell

Matt Rigney (pictured) said he had limited time to react to the surge of rainfall that claimed the lives of his twins, Ryan and Riliegh in Waverly, where 17.02 inches of rain fell

'I had the twins in my arms, I had (19-month-old) Brayla on my hip and I had (5-year-old) Maleah wrapped around my neck,' Rigney told the news station, his voice trembling behind tears

‘I had the twins in my arms, I had (19-month-old) Brayla on my hip and I had (5-year-old) Maleah wrapped around my neck,’ Rigney told the news station, his voice trembling behind tears

As a result, Rigney said the twins were ripped from his arms. Their lifeless bodies were found inside the apartment as the water receded, WVTF reported.

Hall said she was trying to climb out the window to go to a nearby store for help and ended up having to grab onto a tree  – watching the entire tragedy unfold before her eyes.

Rigney and Hall’s two other children survived. 

‘I was trying to find all of them, and Leah came up like a big girl. You swam like a big girl, and I´m so proud of you,’ Rigney said to Maleah, who sat with her family on the couch during the interview. 

Seven-month-old twins Ryan and Rileigh Rigney, seen on the Facebook page of their mother, Danielle Hall.

Seven-month-old twins Ryan and Rileigh Rigney, seen on the Facebook page of their mother, Danielle Hall.

Rigney told WTVF he 'dreaded' telling his wife that he couldn't save all four children, 'like I failed them.'

Rigney told WTVF he ‘dreaded’ telling his wife that he couldn’t save all four children, ‘like I failed them.’

 A neighbor helped Rigney and the other two children up to the roof, and Hall was ultimately rescued from the tree by boat.  

Rigney told WTVF he ‘dreaded’ telling his wife that he couldn’t save all four children, ‘like I failed them.’

Tennessee was hit Saturday by what meteorologists called historic storms and flooding, dumping as much as 17 inches of rain. 

Tennessee was hit Saturday by what meteorologists called historic storms and flooding, dumping as much as 17 inches (38 centimeters) of rain

Tennessee was hit Saturday by what meteorologists called historic storms and flooding, dumping as much as 17 inches (38 centimeters) of rain

Rural roads, state highways, bridges and hundreds of homes were washed out and widespread power outages affected thousands of people

Rural roads, state highways, bridges and hundreds of homes were washed out and widespread power outages affected thousands of people

On Tuesday, President Biden declared a major disaster in Tennessee and approved federal funding after devastating floods over the weekend left at least 21 dead, the White House said in a statement said Tuesday.

Rural roads, state highways, bridges and hundreds of homes were washed out and widespread power outages affected thousands of people.

The move makes federal funding available to people affected in Humphreys County, where the downpour on Saturday broke a 24-hour rainfall record for Tennessee, the National Weather Service said.

Help for residents includes ‘grants for temporary housing and home repairs’, as well as ‘low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses’, the White House said.



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