VIDEO: Flood waters burst through more land than previously thought in Waverly

Published: Aug. 19, 2022 at 6:44 PM CDT
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WAVERLY, Tenn. (WSMV) - New video obtained by WSMV4 Investigates shows the surge of flood water, blamed for the deaths of 20 people in Waverly on August 21, 2021, had become so vast that it burst through more sections of land than previously thought.

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

Scott Monteiro, a Waverly Central High School graduate, had driven with his wife to the town after flood waters receded to check on family and friends.

He and his wife were recording when they drove across Highway 70.

That’s when he captured that the berm underneath CSX railroad had blown out, leaving the tracks suspended with nothing underneath.

“It was just simply gone. There was nothing left of it at all. The tracks were dangling there in the middle of the air,” Monteiro said.

Drone 4 captured how the berm had been pushed out in two locations, acting as a default levy holding back floodwaters from Trace Creek.

But Monteiro’s footage also showed the land blew out in a third location.

A class action lawsuit claims CSX railroad allowed various debris to clog its culvert before the flood, creating a significant blockage to Trace Creek and ultimately causing water to gather behind the berm.

The lawsuit claims that when the water ultimately broke through, it rushed in large volumes towards the town.

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

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

Waverly mayor Buddy Frazier said our discovery was shared with their flood task force.

“We can see it from an aerial, but it’s a strong probability that it’s on private property, and that poses a real handicap for us, going on private property with government equipment and manpower,” Frazier said.

WSMV4 Investigates reached out to the state emergency management department to ask if they intended to clear the debris.

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

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

In another email, she wrote, “At the recent Waverly/Humphreys County Flood Risk Reduction & Recovery Task Force meeting, additional steps for mitigating flood risk include scheduling a Community Creek Clean-up Day shortly. In addition, we recently took footage of Trace Creek to identify potential materials needing equipment or technical skills to remove and develop strategies moving forward.”

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

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