Catastrophic flooding in Tennessee has left at least ten people dead and dozens missing as record-shattering rainfall washed away homes and rural roads.
Business owner Kansas Klein watched in horror from a bridge as cars and entire houses were swept down a road in Waverly, a town of about 4500 people.
Two girls who were holding on to a puppy and clinging to a wooden board swept past, far too fast for Klein and other onlookers to go down and grab hold of them.
“It was amazing how quick it came and how quick it left,” Klein, 48, said of the floodwater.
The Saturday morning deluge of between 25-30cm of rain in Humphreys County had caused floodwaters to reach 2.1m inside his eatery, rendering it a total loss.
“It was devastating: buildings were knocked down, half of them were destroyed,” Klein said of the area that bore the worst of the flood.
“People were pulling out bodies of people who had drowned and didn’t make it out.”
Humphreys County Sheriff Chris Davis told news outlets more than 30 people have been reported missing.
Two of the bodies recovered were toddlers who had been swept away from their father, Davis told WSMV-TV.
The Humphreys County town of McEwen, west of Nashville, was pummelled with 43 centimetres of rain in less than a day, prompting water rescues, road closures, and communications disruptions.
That total smashed the region’s 24-hour record of 24cm from 2010, according to the National Weather Service.
The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency activated its emergency operations centre and said agencies that include the Tennessee National Guard, the state Highway Patrol, and Fire Mutual Aid were responding to the flooding.
In a bulletin, TEMA called the situation “dangerous and evolving” and urged people to avoid travel in the affected counties.