Church leader loses home in flood after being hospitalized for COVID-19

Michelle McCaleb
Posted at 3:39 PM, Aug 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-25 19:58:50-04

WAVERLY, Tenn. (WTVF)  — A minister was released from the hospital after battling COVID-19 pneumonia only to find her home was destroyed following catastrophic flooding.

In the Joe Street area of Waverly, there’s significant damage. It will be a long road to recovery.

Cinder blocks are all that’s left on Michelle McCaleb’s property. She works at Compassion Church in Waverly.

“It’s pretty pitiful,” McCaleb said. “It caught on fire, it’s gone. There was a gas explosion in the neighborhood.”

It was heartbreaking for McCaleb because as a church leader, she’s supposed to be strong. “I’ve just been praying to God that he would turn my heart because I always help everybody that I can, but I’ve just been so stressed,” McCaleb said.

She’s also grieving the loss of her neighbor, who didn’t survive the flood. “Ms. Hailey, the water just came through her house, and they found her like a day or two ago. Sweetest lady ever, she did the child care at church for people," McCaleb said.

Fortunately, McCaleb's son and other family members were rescued from the roof of another house. “It’s just overwhelming I’m so sorry… it’s just a lot of people died so we have a lot to be thankful for," McCaleb said. "Our kids are OK.”

One silver lining is that their dog, Tucker, somehow escaped and wandered up to her husband as he tried to rescue people from an attic. However, their chocolate lab puppy is missing. “Wyatt is his name, we’re hoping somebody has got him," McCaleb said.

Now, McCaleb is trying to rally her faith and find a way to heal both mentally and physically. “I just want to ask everybody to keep praying for our community because I just really don’t understand why?” she said.

McCaleb and her husband aren’t sure if they’ll rebuild here after what happened. For now, they’re staying with another member of their church.

She said a family member found photos of her and her sister when they were children at one of the lost and found locations. She was thankful for that in the midst of everything.