‘We all feel each other’s pain’: Mayor says hope, recovery pushing Waverly forward

Published: Aug. 19, 2022 at 6:54 PM CDT
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WAVERLY, Tenn. (WSMV) - As we all learn more what happened about a year ago in Waverly, there’s a focus on the future there.

WSMV’s Marius Payton met with Waverly Mayor Buddy Frazier recently to talk about the painful memories, hope and what’s next for Waverly.

It’s an emotion that’s still very real for Frazier as he took Marius on a walk through the town of Waverly nearly a year later.

“We’re a tight, tight-knit community, and we all feel each other’s pain,” Frazier said. “The healing process, the recovery process will go on for many years. We’ll never forget this, and we’ll never forget the people that lost their lives here.”

When flood waters ripped through Humphreys County last August, 20 people died. A 2-year-old boy named Kellen Vaughn was one of them, as well as 15-year-old Lilly Bryant. Both are innocent victims of a tragedy the town will never forget.

“The flood had no — it didn’t pick and choose,” Frazier said. “It took those in its path that couldn’t get out of it’s way.”

While rebuilding in Waverly is underway, other areas don’t look very different than in the immediate aftermath.

“The work we had been doing prior to the flood, we thought it was important that we stay busy every day,” Frazier said. “But, now every day is filled with something related to the flood recovery every, every every single day.”

On some days, there have been bright spots like the reopening of the Cash Saver, one of the only grocery stores in town. The simple convenience of having a grocery store again is offering hope to residents who have gone through so much tragedy.

“Believe me, this town has not been by itself,” Frazier said. “You know, people from all over this country, disaster relief organizations, have come. They’re still here. It’s not all going to get done in year. It’s going to be many, many years of making a little progress ... then one of these days, we’ll have a community that will be proud.”

When asked by Marius what people should know about Waverly, Frazier said: “You know, I hear people say Waverly’s never going to be the same. And I think my thoughts are we will never forget what happened here. But we’re gonna come out of this better and stronger than we were before.”