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Humphreys County officials adjust number of killed in flooding to 18

Waverly flood damage august 2021
Posted at 1:29 PM, Aug 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-25 10:04:41-04

WAVERLY, Tenn. (WTVF) — Humphreys County officials have adjusted the number of deaths from this past weekend's flooding.

At least 18 people - many of the children - were killed when the rising waters tore through Humphreys, Hickman, Houston and Dickson Counties early Saturday morning. The City of Waverly was the hardest hit.

"You have to remember, these are people we know. These are people’s families that we know. These are people that we grew up with. These are just people of our small county and it’s very close to us," said Humphreys County Sheriff Chris Davis.

Waverly Department of Public Safety Chief Grant Gillespie said the count was reduced from 22 to 18 after officials noticed a mistake in the tally of the missing and deceased.

"Early in the day of Saturday, as we were trying to deal with the folks we were recovering, we have a couple added that had died of natural causes. We didn’t realize that they were not flood victims. They came through the emergency room, their name got put on the list," Gillespie explained. "Then we had twice where we had John Doe or Jane Doe victims that we identified but they didn’t get crossed off the list as they should’ve."

Three people are still missing. The body of one person was recovered on Tuesday. Gillespie said they have not yet identified the person, but believe they are one of the three missing. Two of the missing people are under 18 years old.

Search and recovery efforts will continue over the next several days.

Watch Tuesday's full update below:

Sheriff Davis said more than 100 homes are "gone" or destroyed due to the flood. He and Gillespie flew in a helicopter on Monday night to survey the damage. Davis said hundreds of additional homes were affected by the rainfall.

"The sheer devastation that we saw in that helicopter ride yesterday has made me realize that we’ve got an extremely long road to go in all of this," Davis said.

The 8 p.m. curfew set for Humphreys County will continue for the next several days.

"This is the fourth flooding event that I've been involved in since I've been in city employment over many many years... but this, by far, is the most violent event. This is the first flooding event where we've had a loss of life. So there's a whole different feel about this particular one," Waverly Mayor Buddy Frazier told reporter Aaron Cantrell.

Frazier also said the city's boil water notice is still in effect, adding that water should be strained and boiled for at least five minutes before it's consumed. He said there is an abundant supply of bottled water along Main Street.

"I think people are still in shock, I got to see the area from the air yesterday for the first time, and I was just devastated by the widespread damage that I saw," Frazier said.

According to Gillespie, Waverly has lost more in this event than the train explosion in 1978.

The National Weather Service said more than 17 inches of rain fell in Humphreys County in less than 24 hours Saturday, triple the forecast and shattering the Tennessee record for one-day rainfall.


WHAT TO DO IF YOU NEED HELP

If you've been affected by the flooding, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) says a resource page is available here. A help line is also available at 615-338-7404 for flood survivors to request volunteer clean-up assistance.

Humphreys County residents and business owners can also apply for federal disaster assistance.

If your home was severely damaged or destroyed, you can reach out to the American Red Cross for assistance by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, you can call 855-CRISIS-1 (855-274-7471) to speak with a trained mental health professional, 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week. You can also text TN to 741741.

TEMA has a Middle Tennessee Flood Recovery [tn.gov] resource page that consolidates various recovery resources and information for flood survivors.

Crisis Cleanup has established a help line at 615-338-7404 where flood survivors can request volunteer clean-up assistance.

The Reunification Center at McEwen High School, 335 Melrose St. in McEwen, Tenn., is open until 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Open shelters:

  • Waverly Church of Christ, 438 West Main St., Waverly, TN
  • YMCA of Dickson County, 225 Henslee Dr, Dickson TN 37055
  • First Baptist Church, 300 E. Main St. Waverly TN 37185
  • Fairfield Church of Christ, 1860 TN-100, Centerville, TN 37033

*Editor's Note: The original death count was reported as 22, but officials in Humphreys County said there was an error in how the way the number of deaths/missing was being tracked. They corrected the number to 18 deaths.