WAVERLY, Tenn. (WTVF) — An expert said Waverly needs a flood mitigation plan in place to prevent future loss of life following catastrophic flooding.
Years ago, residents begged for help when Waverly flooded. Now, the flooding they feared has resulted in tragedy. In 2019, flooding hit Waverly in some of the same areas that were just impacted. We interviewed residents who wanted something done back then.
Twenty people died in the most recent flood. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation said they're reviewing what happened. Some funding was approved in Waverly in July to help with water infrastructure. It's unclear if any construction had started prior to the flooding.
"I know there is a pilot program through TDEC that some communities have taken advantage of like Dyersburg," Yaron Miller said. "But given the historic losses and unprecedented flooding that has been occurring across the state, certainly more needs to be done."
Miller is the flood-prepared communities senior officer with The Pew Charitable Trusts. He works with states like Florida to develop flood prevention plans in vulnerable communities. He said Waverly needs to take action. "These are things like restoring wetlands and streams that can slow and capture stormwater, buying out from willing homeowners of flood prone properties, buying out those properties and restoring those lands to green space that could help buffer flood waters," Miller said.
There’s actually funding available right now to help these areas. The Administrator at the Federal Emergency Management Agency said they have billions for states to tap into at this time. "As we continue to see the changes from climate change and invest in the mitigation," said Deanne Criswell.
Flood victims said they don't plan to stay in Waverly. It's too risky until major infrastructure changes are made in the community.
"This is a really historic opportunity with thorough resources coming through via the American Rescue Plan, potentially the infrastructure bill, some states are already taking advantage of this funding to become more resilient," Miller said.
The schools in Waverly have flooded multiple times too. There's a petition to move them.