Waverly missing persons search ends, transition to cleanup begins

Posted at 6:04 PM, Aug 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-25 19:49:21-04

WAVERLY, Tenn. (WTVF) — Waverly Police Chief Grant Gillespie and Humphreys County Sheriff Chris Davis confirm the search and recovery phase of flood recovery is finally over. Wednesday morning, the final missing person’s remains were found, ending a painful chapter for this community.

“We’re a small county, these are our friends, these are our people we go to church with, these are our people our kids go to school with. We’re not a big city, we’re not detached from who our people are. We are our people,” said Humphreys County Sheriff Chris Davis.

“I didn’t know everyone on that list but I knew somebody who was connected to somebody on that list,” said Waverly Police Chief Grant Gillespie.

Gillespie commended all of the law enforcement officers and volunteers that performed the difficult, emotional task. “We lean on each other a lot, we step away a lot, take those minutes,” he said.

Now that the missing person list is empty, focus can truly return to the cleanup. Even four days after the flood, finding items to clean up is an easy task, actually pulling it off will take much longer. “There’s dishes, a lot of towels and fabrics,’ said Kathryn Woodall, a volunteer from Burns, Tenn.

From the air, destruction is still widespread. Many homeowners tell us they’re past the point of triaging the damage and are now waiting for the next steps – whether that’s dealing with their insurance agent or FEMA.

“We know that neighbors helping neighbors is the best way for the recovery to take place,” said Greg LeBlanc, Founder of Mercy Chefs, a nonprofit food service organization for disaster victims.

That’s true for cleanup and time in-between when volunteers and flood victims alike need a hot meal and a place to sit. “We believe something amazing happens over a shared meal, so we’re here providing a place for folks just to relax for a moment, so hopefully we give them a little hope,” said LeBlanc.

LeBlanc says he has a pretty simple motivation when it comes to serving up gourmet food – to bring this community together – so they can finally turn the page.

“Their face lights up. I mean that’s the gas that keeps me running,” said LeBlanc.

Meanwhile, work to restore electricity and clean water continues. Chief Gillespie says Waverly Public Water is safe to bath in but not to drink.