'They're going to come through this' Waverly community leans on one another as flood recovery continues

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Posted at 9:21 PM, Sep 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-21 22:21:39-04

WAVERLY, Tenn. (WTVF) — On August 21, a devastating flood changed the Waverly community forever.

"This was a beautiful little town at one time," said Janet, with Ross Farms.

After everything the town of Waverly has lost, a real sense of community remains.

"This is a community, when you drive down the road, they still wave at you when you drive," said Dean Duke, owner of WQMV radio in Waverly. "My main job is to take care of the community, that's what we've been trying to do since all this happened."

Water surged into the radio station and wiped out all of the computers.

Duke said an estimated 40% of homes in the Humphreys County area were either damaged or destroyed by the floodwaters.

"I looked out the front and I looked out the back, and it was just a little water gathering up," Waverly resident Judy Simpson recalled. "This guy comes down the street telling everyone, 'you gotta evacuate.'"

Judy and her husband Russell survived the flood by climbing into their attic.

"We sat up there for about three hours and if we hollered nobody could have heard us," she said.

A month later, the couple is still working to clean up their home where they have lived for 51 years. "We're doing a little better each day that goes by," Judy Simpson said. "These houses are going to be torn down and what's standing there is just going to be very few of them."

"When I came in the day of the flood and saw what was going on, I didn't really realize the magnitude of it," Janet remembered.

Twenty people were killed in the flood, and those who survived will be forever changed.

"The ones that survived are miracles in themselves. I don't know any other way to say it," said Tori Smith, who works at Waverly Cafe. "Here it is a month later and we still have people crying on us, and we cry on them."

Over the years, flooding has been an ongoing issue for the community.

"The community can not easily forget, at all," Duke said. "In 2010, there was a flood here. They debated for 11 years what was the best course of action to deal with this type of event and they accomplished nothing and it cost us 20 lives."

"People are always going to somehow rise up and above. People are somehow going to get a home," Janet said. "They're going to, maybe need therapy, but they're going to come through this."