Along the main street, volunteers handed out warm meals, bottled water and supplies. Churches had been converted into shelters. Some residents were steeling themselves to go back into their homes, uncertain of where to begin.

“It smells like death,” Ms. Burns, 43, said, describing the stench that assaulted her as soon as she stepped inside her house. “It’s a struggle.”

Richard Wheeler, a retired firefighter, said he had been out running errands on Saturday morning. He returned to discover his home was in the middle of the road. He recalled past floods, including one that had water flowing underneath his home.

“This is worse than any of them,” he said. “This is the worst one.”

As he stood on the front steps of Waverly Church of Christ, one man slipped him a rolled-up $20 bill and a woman in a pink dress and clutching her Bible invited him to stay at her home. He said he was staying with his daughter who lives in a town about 10 miles away.

“When it rains, it pours,” the woman told him, “and it’s raining on you.”

After she walked off, he choked up. He lived on his own. He was already being assured of what he figured would be the case: His neighbors would take care of him. “This is a very God-loving county,” he said.

Mr. Larkin, 62, sat on the ground, his back leaning against the church hall’s brick wall, holding a Capri Sun and a cigarette. He was exhausted. He was also physically sore from being whipped around by the choppy water.

Still, he said that he was grateful, repeating again and again how thankful he was for the rescuers that collected him, his wife and his 11-year-old cat. That gratitude, at the moment, superseded any sadness over being stranded with only the clothes he had on. For now, Mr. Larkin and his wife were staying in the shelter and hoping to get into a motel.

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