22 dead, many missing after 17 inches of rain in Tennessee

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More than 20 killed in Tennessee floods

President Joe Biden has approved a major disaster declaration sought by Tennessee after record rainfall caused devastating floods that killed at least 22 people, according to a statement sent Tuesday.

Fewer than 10 people remained unaccounted for on Tuesday. Emergency workers were searching door to door, officials said.

Residents in a Tennessee apartment complex had only minutes to get away from rising floodwaters, which killed some of their neighbors.

The residents of Brookside apartments in Waverly were rushing to each other’s homes to warn them of the approaching water on Saturday morning.

Jodie Stawski said her neighbor across the street banged on her door to urge her to get out before the water reached their apartment. Her neighbor didn’t make it out.

"And I think in my mind, they thought they were safe. That the water was not going to get that high. But from what I heard, it gushed at them. And we lost Miss Mary. She drowned in the process. She was our hero, she saved us," she said.

On Monday, flood victims were staying in an emergency shelter in a nearby church, where dogs, kids and families were surrounded by donated clothes, diapers and food.

Anna Mays, who also lived in the Brookside apartments, was clinging a door inside her home in neck-high waters.

Her brother was outside, holding onto a tree when rescuers came on a boat to save them.

"And I am panicking and you know, I never in my whole life seen that much water. I’ve seen it on TV. And I thought I was gone. I was screaming and hollering for help," Mays said.

Annie Rushing, another Brookside resident, said the flooding took the lives of several people in her apartment complex.

"And there were two babies that got killed, twins," said Rushing. "And then two more got killed. Four babies got killed in that apartment. And then the momma that was in 11B, she got killed. There was about six people that got killed there," she adds.

Saturday’s flooding took out roads, cellphone towers and telephone lines, leaving people uncertain about whether family and friends survived the unprecedented deluge.

Up to 17 inches of rain fell in Humphreys County in less than 24 hours Saturday, shattering the Tennessee record for one-day rainfall by more than 3 inches, the National Weather Service said.