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Death count after Tennessee floods rises to 23

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Aid for flood-ravaged Tennessee
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Soggy furniture, drywall and flooring line the curbs as people in Nashville clean up
  • Last weekend's storms left at least 32 people dead across the Southeast, authorities say
  • Flooding said to have caused more than $1.5 billion in property damage in Nashville area
  • Federal government declares 42 counties disaster areas

Nashville, Tennessee (CNN) -- Severe storms and massive flooding last weekend killed 23 people in Tennessee, state emergency management officials said.

The federal government has declared 42 counties disaster areas. Flooding has caused more than $1.5 billion in property damage in the Nashville area alone, city officials said.

Piles of debris stretched for blocks in the city's Bellevue neighborhood Sunday.

Soggy furniture, drywall and flooring lined the curbs as residents and volunteers tried to stay positive while cleaning up the damage flooding left behind.

"We have no choice but to solve this problem, and we're going to solve it with enthusiasm and try to have fun doing it. We have some hurdles to cross, but we've already gotten across quite a few," Nashville resident Russ Hazelton told CNN. "We'll see what the next few days bring."

Video: Using comedy to weather storm
RELATED TOPICS
  • Tennessee
  • Nashville
  • Floods

Last weekend's storm system devastated Tennessee and neighboring states, leaving at least 32 people dead across the Southeast, authorities say.

As of Sunday, 17,000 people had requested assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

More than $4 million in federal assistance already has been approved for individuals, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Saturday during a visit to the region.

CNN's Martin Savidge contributed to this report.