WAVERLY, Tenn. (WTVF) — From finding the missing in the early days to keeping volunteer efforts focused on Waverly, it's more than a job for Humphreys County Sheriff Chris Davis.
Waverly is home — always has been.
“I can remember a neighborhood, and you have kids playing on bikes, and now you have five or six homes in there,” says the sheriff comparing Waverly before August 2021 and after.
Elements have certainly changed.
“I don't know where the year’s went.”
Two weeks after the flooding, Sheriff Davis recalled telling residents the town would be back to normal in a year.
“I find myself eating those words, and I’ll have to say we'll never be back,” he said.
Plenty of people left town looking for higher ground and a new place to start over. In some areas, time has stood still.
The damage done by the violent floodwaters remains untouched. And some people have rebuilt or are on their way. But it hasn't been easy for anyone. The sheriff wishes there was a better understanding and explanation of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's purpose early on in the process.
“I think a lot of people had the expectation of FEMA as an insurance program, and they're going to come in and save us kind of deal.”
Families who lost everything have received very little financial assistance from the government. And then there's the constant reminder of the source of such heartbreak, Trace Creek, which remains littered in some areas.
“It’s really hard. People from the outside say ‘you gotta clean up the creek.’ Yes, you do, but it’s also private property. It’s not like driving down a highway, it’s not like driving down one of your county roads. It’s a lot of hoops that you have to do for private property owners and a government to clean something up like that.”
Work remains for many — home and business owners and government agencies. But the sheriff believes Waverly is worth it.
“It’s changed. We know our little home won’t ever be the same. But we've got to make it better — build it back and make it better for time to come.”