Floodwaters crossed more land than previously thought in Waverly

WAVERLY, Tenn. (WSMV) – New video obtained by WSMV4 Investigates shows rising floodwaters, responsible for the deaths of 20 people in Waverly on August 21, 2021, had grown so extensive that they crossed more sections of ground than previously thought.

The video is another example of why so many people were caught off guard during the floods.

Waverly Central High School graduate Scott Monteiro had traveled to town with his wife after the floodwaters receded to check on family and friends.

He and his wife were recording when they crossed Highway 70.

That’s when he sensed that the berm under the CSX railroad had exploded, leaving the tracks hanging with nothing underneath.

“It was just gone. There was nothing left of it at all. The tracks were hanging in mid-air,” Monteiro said.

Drone 4 captured how the berm had been pushed back in two places, acting as a default drawdown holding back the floodwaters of Trace Creek.

But the Monteiro footage also showed the earth exploding in a third location.

A class action lawsuit alleges the CSX Railroad allowed various debris to clog its culvert prior to flooding, creating a significant blockage of Trace Creek and ultimately causing water to pool behind the berm.

The lawsuit claims that when the water finally broke through, it rushed in large quantities towards the city.

In July, WSMV4 Investigates found that a mountain of debris still stood in the creek, nearly 100 yards from the same culvert named in the lawsuit.

When WSMV4 showed flood victims what we found in the creek, they said it made them fear that if another heavy rain came, debris could again clog the culvert.

Waverly Mayor Buddy Frazier said our finding was shared with their flood task force.

“We can see it from an antenna, but chances are it’s on private property, and it’s a real handicap for us to go to private property with equipment and manpower. government,” Frazier said.

WSMV4 investigators contacted the state emergency management department to ask if they intended to clean up the debris.

Maggie Hannan, the spokeswoman for TEMA, wrote that since the flooding, a “majority of the debris has been removed from Trace Creek”.

Asked about the debris we discovered, Hannan inquired about a specific location, which we provided.

In another email, she wrote, “At the recent meeting of the Waverly/Humphreys County Flood Risk Reduction and Recovery Task Force, additional measures to mitigate flood risk include planning a community creek cleanup day soon. Additionally, we recently took images of Trace Creek to identify potential materials requiring equipment or technical skill to remove and develop strategies moving forward.

Hannan further clarified that the debris we discovered was not the “potential material” she was referring to in her email.

“TEMA continues to work with local, state and federal partners to address flooding issues in Waverly,” Hannan wrote.

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