Officials have been inundated with 911 calls in Texas, Oklahoma and Mexico as flash floods and tornadoes have wreaked havoc, leaving at least 31 dead.
More are missing and the death toll is expected to rise, emergency responders said Wednesday.
Particularly heartbreaking was the story of one Texas family whose vacation cabin was swept into the flood currents. Parents Jonathan and Laura McComb were vacationing with their two children when rising flood waters uprooted the structure and sent it floating in parts down the stream.
Laura called her sister as the house drifted.
“A little after 1 o’clock in the morning, she called me and said, ‘I just want you to know the ceiling has caved in and the house is floating down the water,” Julie Shields said to CNN. “[She said] ‘Tell Mom and Dad that I love them. I love you. And pray.'”
Jonathan was found alive, but his wife and children were not, Fox News reported.
Rescue crews in three states have been rushing to help survivors. A record high surge of water, 44 feet high, demolished homes and businesses in one section of Texas.
“It was literally a large wall of water that came down the Blanco River and destroyed everything in its path,” said Hays County Commissioner Will Conley, in USA Today.
CNN also reported 13 deaths in Ciudad Acuna, Mexico, a historic border town hit hard by a tornado, and another six in Oklahoma. At least five were killed in Houston and several others in spots across Texas. The storm systems lasting several days are expected to cost millions of dollars in cleanup, and several Texas jurisdictions have been declared emergency disaster areas.