The town of Waverly in Humphreys County, Tenn., has lost 18 people to the flooding from Saturday, with three people still missing on Tuesday.
Witnesses said the three people who are still unaccounted for were seen in the water, the Associated Press reported. Some crews were using chainsaws to clear debris while officers used drones to aid in the search.
Humphreys County Chief Deputy Rob Edwards said that given that a car was found about half a mile from where it had been parked, it was difficult to know how far the bodies could have been carried.
He added that police and sheriff's deputies were being aided by crews from agencies all over Tennessee and teams with cadaver dogs were prepared if a body was suspected to be nearby.
After initially saying 22 people had died, Waverly police Chief Grant Gillespie corrected it, saying that some people were mistakenly added to the list.
Cars and sheds were tangled in debris and houses were taken off their foundations, according to the AP. Humphreys County Sheriff Chris Davis said 125 homes were ruined and hundreds of others were affected by the flooding.
"Some are just gone — off the foundation — twisted, turned," Davis said during a news conference. "They would probably have to be totally destroyed before they could be built back."
"The sheer devastation that we saw in that helicopter ride yesterday has made me realize that we have got an extremely long road to go in all of this," he added.
Telephone lines, cellphone towers, and roads were all taken out by the flooding, which was a result of rain that more than tripled the forecasts and was significantly above Tennessee's one-day record, the AP reported.
By Tuesday, 750 customers were without power, which was down from 2,000 the night before, according to utility officials.
The sheriff's office announced that school was canceled for the week, and both Waverly Elementary and Waverly Junior High experienced extensive damage, according to Humphreys County Schools' coordinated health and safety supervisor, Kristi Brown.
"You've seen us get a little emotional," Sheriff Davis said Tuesday. "You have to remember, these are people we know, people's families, people we grew up with — just the people of our small town. It's just very close to us."
President Biden approved a major disaster declaration requested by Tennessee, providing federal aid for recovery efforts in Humphreys County, according to the White House.