WAVERLY, Tenn. (WKRN) – In late August seventeen inches of rain causes devastating flooding, leading to massive destruction of property and loss of twenty lives in Humphreys County, including the lives of three students.
Two schools, Waverly Elementary and Waverly Junior High School were barely visible under rushing water. Waverly Central High School experiences widespread water damage throughout different areas of the school.
Even the Humphreys County School System administrative building in Waverly loses everything from technology to buses, paralyzing the district which educates more than 2800 students.
“What are we going to do? I’ve got… I’ve got all these kids…you know 2800 plus kids, and how am I going to get them back in school?” said Richard Rye, Director of Schools.
Once the water recedes it’s evident the 1100 students occupying Waverly Elementary and Junior High will not be coming back.
“I’m not putting those kids in this danger. If it would have been 24 hours later, we would have lost kids and staff and I just can’t put those kids in that danger, staff in that danger again,” said Rye.
So as the waters receded with no power or phone lines, district staff from the director of schools, administrators, instructional and transportation supervisors, to bus drivers developed a plan to get students back in school as quickly as possible.
“We started with the ones that were not displaced, we got those running the first week, right after Labor Day, those four days and then the next we did little remote days where just those ones that were displaced came in, so it was kind of a soft start again, and everybody came in at the end of that week,” said Rye.
In just three weeks, the 1100 displaced students, their teachers, and administrators were absorbed into other schools and they’ll stay there for the rest of the school year, sharing classrooms or working out of converted spaces.
“It’s amazing and my hats off to everybody, all the supervisors, it’s not me, it’s them that made it work and I am proud, I am proud that they pulled it off,” said Rye.
District staff are also proud of the help they’ve received from other school districts and generous Middle Tennesseans, from buses on loan to donated school supplies. Parents are proud of the district’s heroic efforts too as their children, who have been living through a pandemic and now historic rainfall and flood are back to some sense of normalcy.
“I think our district was wonderful in just trying to get the kids back and caring about the kids. We have a lot of lower-income kids that rely on schools for guidance and food and things like that,” said parent Rebecca Porch.
“It took everybody to make this happen and that’s Humphrey’s County, I mean that’s Tennessee,” said Rye.
So, we honor the staff of the Humphreys County School System as our News 2 Gives Back Hometown Heroes for the month of September, presented by Trevecca Nazarene University, for getting students back in school learning especially the displaced 1100 students who lost their schools after the historic rainfall and devastating flood.