Students Recall Damage Caused By Flooding To Their Hometown of Waverly, TN

By Diana Leyva

Student Body President, Hunter Elliot, woke up early on the morning of Aug. 21. He grabbed his phone, checked Facebook and saw that 66 miles away, in his hometown of Waverly, massive flooding was taking place. 

According to the Humphreys County Emergency Management Agency, 20 people were killed, 270 homes were destroyed and 160 suffered major damage. 

Flood damage along Trace Creek in Waverly. Photo courtesy of The Associated Press.

In shock, he began calling family members. Initially there wasn’t much concern from his family, but as time went by the water began to rise. 

“I tried to call my mom, and she was like yeah the water is starting to get really high. She said I’m just really scared right now,” he said. 

As the hours passed Elliot continued to watch the situation worsen. His family lost electricity and was without cell phone service. The last thing he saw was a Facebook post from his pastor’s son, a picture of the water reaching the top stairwell of the church, where his mother had been since 6:30 a.m.

“For about four or five hours I wasn’t sure if my mom was alive,” said Elliot. 

Elliot’s mother was unharmed however was stranded at the church until 2 p.m. The church suffered significant damage. The entire downstairs was destroyed, the water bursting through the windows. All of the church’s history was lost.

Elliot’s grandmother, had to be evacuated from her home of 50 years. He said she described the situation as instantaneous. One minute there was nothing and the next minute she looked out her window and the water quickly started to fill the field in front of her one story, brick home. 

She gathered her belongings and left. Soon after a neighbor on a 4-wheeler was able to get her out of the flooded area. 

The flooring in his grandmother’s home was destroyed and all chairs and couches were gone. She has been back but the home is currently uninhabitable. 

Elliot’s family also lost all of their cars. The flood picked up their 5 cars and moved them 400 yards away from the church where they had been parked. 

Elliot’s church has remained resilient. Following the aftermath of the flood they have been actively cutting down tress and going through rubble. 

He has not been able to return home since the flood.  

Junior Savannah Scantlin was in Waverly when the flooding took place, planning a birthday party. 

Her father awoke her to the sight of the creek in their backyard where the water had risen by 15 feet. Although the water had engulfed their fields and currents were ripping through, the water didn’t reach her house as it is higher up in elevation. 

She didn’t think much of it at first. 

Still in party planning mode, Scantlin and her father decided to go into town to purchase chips. Unable to take the highway due to flooding, they took a different route but soon discovered that route was also not an option. 

Finally they reached a point where they could observe what was happening near the main highway, where about 20 other people were also standing and observing. 

What they saw was debris filled water rushing by the highway, a person sitting on the roof of a gas station and four people sitting on the porch of a locally owned farmer supply store. In the background, buildings were on fire and screams could be heard in the distance. 

Scantlin felt extreme helplessness. 

“I’m a person who wants to be able to help people and do anything that I can to help anybody … It was heartbreaking to know that you can’t really help those people,” she said via video interview. 

She quickly alerted her family not to come to her house. They were able to avoid the flooding, other loved ones however were impacted. 

Some of Scantlin’s relatives, who had resided in their Waverly home for about 40 years, suffered mass water damage to the inside of their home. The place where they raised their children and grandchildren. 

The mother of a friend whom Scantlin played middle and high school volleyball with, was left with only the foundation of her home. They were not able to salvage anything from inside the home. 

“You love the place that you live, if you stay that long that’s a part of who you are and what you do. It stinks that not only your things are gone but also your place that you’re comfortable, your home,” she said. 

For Scantlin it was especially heartbreaking to see her elementary and middle school flooded. 

“That’s where I grew up, all the things that I went through, all the things that I learned, everything was in those buildings. All my great memories, my prom, my third grade graduation … things like that are just not there anymore and I’m a sentimental person so it bothers me more than I think some people,” she said. 

Despite the damages she and others are grateful that the flood did not occur on a school day. A day where her sister and so many others were at school. 

Scantlin has been able to go back since the flooding. 

Together with her roommate, they went back the following weekend and helped prepare 500 meals for volunteers and search crews. Her and her family also helped search for people and the surrounding Amish communities have also lent a helping hand. 

“My town I would say is holding up pretty well. They’re coming back pretty strong. All the flood relief has been amazing,” she said. 

Throughout the experience Scantlin has learned to not take anything for granted and to count all her blessings. 

“Give thanks to God even in the midst of hardship and even in the midst of a trial there’s still things to be grateful for,” she said. 

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