Will the character of Waverly change because of flooding?

waverly flood damage
Posted at 5:28 PM, Sep 09, 2021

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — After weeks of work in the streets of Waverly, rubble still litters driveways and right-of-ways along major thoroughfares.

Though there have been many volunteers and aid groups helping the city, it is still a long way from a full recovery. As the dust begins to settle on a third week since the deadly August 21 flooding, conversations are happening in the city about what happens next.

"I think every time I drive through Waverly, it seems surreal," said Grant Gillespie, Waverly Chief of Police. "My night shift talks about how quiet it is in these neighborhoods, it's dark at night. There's nobody here."

So many homes outside of the flood plain were damaged by the high flood waters. By the accounts of many, it happened so fast, there was little they could do to get out of the way.

Some in the community are still grieving the loss of 20 lives.

"That reality sets in every time we turn in and see houses that are torn down and gone and the empty spaces that are left behind," said Gillespie.

Many homeowners are opting to leave the city if they can't move to higher ground within the limits.

Amanda Maples is an example. She said it's unclear where she will go.

"You do start to feel that Waverly will lose some of the people who have been here for years because there's not enough room for everybody to find some place to stay," said Maples.

Maples had a home on Sutton Avenue and Brown Street. There was so much damage to her home and her parents neither will be able to stay.

Belongings from both homes washed into Trace Creek. Maples said she tried to look for a silver mail box the family has had since she was young, but they're unable to find it.

Some large employers in Waverly are planning on staying. Such as truck trailer company LMI. Their facilities were damaged but are cleaning up to resume business.

Waverly Plaza's grocery store, Waverly Cash Saver is also planning to rebuild. The plaza was heavily flooded and the insides were heavily damaged.

"Initially, when you came in here you couldn't hardly walk without stepping on groceries or shelving," said Jacob Curtis, one of the store's co-owners.

The store had to lay off employees since they couldn't pay, but the community still stepped in to help clean up.

"If we wanted to walk away, we wouldn't have worked as hard as we would've the last two weeks," said Curtis. "Our desire, the City of Waverly has been really good to us. And our desire is to get reopened as quickly as possible. That includes this facility."

Curtis said it could be as soon as Thanksgiving the store will open again.

Despite the problems arising from the situation, there's still hope in Waverly. Hope the community will rebound, and while it might be different, some believe it will invite opportunity.

"I've heard from a lot of people that are ready to dig in and build back. It may be in a different location, but they'll stay in the community," said Gillespie.