Country music icon Loretta Lynn mourned the death of her longtime ranch foreman on Facebook on Sunday — one of at least 22 people killed by heavy rains and flash flooding in Tennessee over the weekend.
Foreman Wayne Spears was checking the animals in the barn at the Hurricane Mills ranch on Saturday when he was swept away by a flash flood, the Humphreys County Sheriff Chris Davis told USA Today. A record-breaking 17 inches of rain soaked the state within 24 hours, and the surge of floodwaters swamped roads, cellphone towers and telephone lines.
“There are no words at the ranch today … only tears,” wrote Lynn, 89, on Facebook. “Our ranch family is our family. We lost my amazing ranch foreman, Wayne in this devastating flood. He took such good care of things here on the ranch for us. He’s one of us and the whole Lynn family Is heartbroken. Please pray for his precious family and friends.”
“There are no words at the ranch today … only tears.”
— Loretta Lynn
The Loretta Lynn Ranch in Hurricane Mills also paid tribute to Spears on Facebook, writing, “Wayne has been a family friend to the Lynns and a fixture to the Ranch for decades and we are all devastated by his passing.
It continued, “The Ranch will never be the same without him but he will always be remembered for his ready smile, kind heart, and willingness to go the extra mile for everyone around him.”
Among the 22 Humphreys County residents killed in the catastrophic flooding were 7-month-old twin babies, who were reportedly swept right out of their father’s arms as the family was trying to escape the rising water. Their grandmother Angie Willeby identified the twins as Ryan and Riliegh to a Fox-TV affiliate in Nashville.
More than 40 people are still reported missing.
The Humphreys County Sheriff Office Facebook page has become filled with people looking for missing friends and family. And GoFundMe pages were made asking for help for funeral expenses, including for the 7-month-old twins.
And the remnants of the Henri storm system also soaked the Northeast over the weekend after making landfall as a tropical storm in Rhode Island on Sunday, leaving hundreds without electricity on Monday morning.