She had been holding on to the front door of her rural Tennessee duplex for two days as the water rose to her neck. Her brother was holding onto a tree.
Then Mays realized where she was: The gym at the Waverly Church of Christ, now her temporary home alongside other victims of record-breaking rain Saturday that sent floodwaters surging through the region, killing at least 22 people.
Her story is now a familiar one in Humphreys County and Waverly. Large areas of the community are suddenly dislocated. They have to make difficult decisions about the next steps while reliving the horror.
"This morning, I had a panic attack. I thought I was in the water. I tried to find that way. Mays, who isn't able to swim, said that she was only scared half to death. "I was just, I was just, something woken me up and I believed I was in water and -- I've seen it TV but I've never seen it like that in real life, where cars were going by."
After a police officer arrived at her duplex Saturday morning and told her to evacuate, Mays began to gather some belongings. Her brother and she could see the water rising rapidly. Her brother tried to stop the water from entering the house with towels, but it was too late. The flooded creek opened the door, and water began to pour into the house.
Mays' brother, who was outside trying to gain access to the roof, ended up clinging on to a tree. Mays held onto the front door until the boat arrived and they were freed with only their clothes. Mays claimed that the neighbor on the opposite side of the duplex had lost her daughter, aged 7 or 8.
As survivors struggled to recall their memories, more than 90 people remained in shelters on Sunday according to the American Red Cross chapter of the state. Rescue workers continued their laborious search for any other victims.
Waverly police chief Grant Gillespie stated that authorities searched through piles of debris while search and rescue teams used dogs for any missing persons.
"There is still much debris that needs to be swept along the creek. It's a tedious process," Gillespie stated during a press conference. "We must take that apart, many times, with equipment."
According to the police chief, the number of people believed to be missing has fluctuated as people are unable to contact loved ones who later prove to be safe.
Gillespie stated that he was reasonably certain that there are less than 10 people at the moment that they aren't sure of their whereabouts or that they don't think will resolve it easily.
Saturday's flooding took out roads, cellphone towers and telephone lines, leaving people uncertain about whether family and friends survived the unprecedented deluge, with rainfall that more than tripled forecasts and shattered the state record for one-day rainfall. Kristi Brown, Humphreys County Schools' coordinated health and safety supervisor, stated that emergency workers were looking for shelters from door to door.
Humphreys County Sheriff Chris Davis confirmed that 22 people died in his county. The names of the missing were on a board in the county's emergency center and listed on a city of Waverly Facebook page, which is being updated as people call in and report themselves safe.
The Humphreys County Sheriff Office Facebook Page was filled with people searching for missing friends.
Surviving family members confirmed the death of the twins. The ranch of Loretta Lynn, country music star, also lost its foreman. He said that he had lost one of his closest friends, the sheriff of the county with 18,000 residents located 60 miles (96 km) west of Nashville.
The National Weather Service reported that Humphreys County received 17 inches (43 cmimeters) of rainfall in 24 hours. This surpasses the Tennessee record for one day rainfall by more than 3 in (8 centimeters).
According to the sheriff's offices, school was cancelled for the week. According to Brown, Waverly Elementary School and Waverly Junior High sustained extensive damage. Utility officials stated that approximately 2,000 homes were without power Monday evening.
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The water was closing in on survivors, and they fought back.
Billy Ray Rushing was visiting Annie Rushing when he was told to evacuate.
He said, "Right there and then, we got into the car and fled."
Their muffler was already covered by water. Mary, their neighbor on the other side, returned to her home and soon called Rushing asking for them to return. It was too late.
"There was no way we could go back there. It's horrible, but it was the only way I could save her and myself from drowning." he stated, gesturing to his daughter.
Jodie Stawski was warned by the neighbor across the street to get out of the apartment before the water reached it.
Stawski said Monday that they could see the people sitting on their porches as they drove out. "And I believe in my mind that they believed they were safe. They knew that the water would not rise to such a high level. However, I heard it gushing at them. And we lost Miss Mary. In the end, she drowned. She was our hero. She saved us."