FEMA administrator tour Waverly school to assess flood damage

Published: Jul. 28, 2022 at 6:49 PM CDT
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WAVERLY, Tenn. (WSMV) - When city officials in Waverly learned that the top administrator of FEMA was coming to get a progress report nearly a year after deadly flooding ripped through the town, they hoped to show her a revamped boot factory ready to house students for the fall semester.

Instead, windows are still boarded up, walls are framed but not finished, and no desks and computers are inside.

Still, Deanne Criswell, FEMA administrator, was encouraged, saying it was an example of how the community had raced to recover.

The former ACME Boot Factory is expected to be converted into a school in December.

While the town has largely recovered, with many homes repaired and businesses reopened, the occasional boarded up window or empty house is proof of lingering damage.

Criswell met with city leaders and TEMA representatives in Waverly, talking about how progress needed to still be made and how federal grants can assist in the process.

WSMV4 Investigates has found that the disaster in Waverly is a microcosm of sorts of the state’s flooding crisis.

WSMV asked Criswell what she would say to people who deny that climate change is real.

“I think all you have to do is look at the last couple of years and see the growth and the number of severe weather events that we’re seeing,” Criswell said. “We’re seeing rain that’s breaking records – some that were set just a few weeks before.”

WSMV4 Investigates also found that in many cases old infrastructure, like culverts, were built to handle rain totals from the past, but are unable to keep up with the record rains we are now seeing.

“I think we’re seeing that in some are across the country – and I would put it on the local officials to evaluate if their infrastructure is going to be able to support the future weather events that we’re seeing,” Criswell said.

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