Search efforts are underway in Virginia as more than 40 people are unaccounted for after severe flooding

Search efforts continue Thursday for more than 40 people unaccounted for after a torrential downpour inundated a rural Virginia county, tearing homes from their foundations and damaging roads and bridges across the region.

Six inches of rain in just hours Tuesday caused extensive damage in Buchanan County, in western Virginia, CNN meteorologist Robert Shackelford said.

"Combined with the fact that the area is mountainous, rainfall is able to collect quickly, and dangerous runoff occurred," he said.

Authorities were searching for at least 44 people in the aftermath, they said.

"This number reflects the number of people that has been reported to law enforcement by loved ones and family members as being unable to make contact with them," the Buchanan County Sheriff's Office said Wednesday in a Facebook post.

"This does not mean the person is missing, it means we are attempting to reach and locate the person and check on their wellbeing."

Virginia's governor declared a state of emergency to help with recovery efforts.

The forecast Thursday and Friday calls for sun, with high temperatures in the lower to mid-80s, ahead of a slight chance of rain Saturday that increases Sunday and Monday, according to the National Weather Service.

The damaging storm was among several that lingered Tuesday night over the county and parts of Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for Buchanan County around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday. About two hours later, local officials began reporting widespread flooding and road closures.

"We were sitting at this post office over here, and the next thing you know, the house is floating on down through there. We thought it was going to wash off. Two of the houses washed off," resident Seth Owens told CNN affiliate WCYB.