Loretta Lynn's Ranch was hit hard by the devastating flooding in Humphreys County, Tennessee Saturday. Wayne Spears, who served as the foreman and was a family friend to the country music icon, was swept up in the floodwaters and died, the ranch's staff confirmed Sunday. At least 21 people are dead, and dozens were reported missing due to the flooding.
The ranch's staff said Spears went missing late Saturday before sharing the news that he did not survive Sunday afternoon. "With the heaviest of hearts, we are saddened to report that our beloved foreman Wayne Spears did not survive being swept up in the floodwaters. 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," the statement reads. "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."
"Eventually we'll rebuild our community, our ranch, our lives, and our homes. but only God could build a man like Wayne Spears. There's just no replacing that," the statement continued. "May he rest in peace." The ranch staff also shared photos of Spears including one with Lynn, 89. More than 2,000 Facebook users shared their condolences to Spears' family.
Officials in Humphreys County are still searching for missing residents, Humphreys County Sheriff Chris Davis told The Tennessean. He said this was the worst flooding event he has seen in his 28-year career with the department. Power outages and inconsistent cell phone service have made the searches difficult. Some rural roads and highways in the country were completely washed away. The Tennessee National Guard was deployed to the area to help residents. Over 15 inches fell in Humphreys County. Parts of Interstate 40 were closed, and the Piney River reached record water levels, according to the National Weather Service Nashville.
Seven-month-old twins Ryan and Riliegh were among those killed in the flooding. Their grandmother, Angie Willeby, told Fox 17 the babies were swept away in Waverly, Tennessee. Their father was carrying the twins and other children but lost them in the flood. Family members launched a GoFundMe page to raise funds for their parents. Over $20,000 has been donated to help the family in less than 24 hours.
The American Red Cross also opened shelters for those affected by the floods. Shelters are open at YMCA Dickson County; Fairfield Church of Christ in Centerville; Waverly Church of Christ; and Waverly Baptist Church.