WAVERLY, Tenn. (WKRN) — It’s been eleven months since deadly floodwaters overwhelmed Waverly, taking out hundreds of homes. On Tuesday, the Appalachia Service Project handed out keys to several rebuilt homes to flood victims who lost everything.
Gary Jackson recalled the day he and his home nearly got swept away by deadly floodwaters.
“I was stuck in about chest-deep water for about five hours or so with two dogs that didn’t know what was going on. So I was just trying to keep them alive, I was more worried about them than I was me, to be honest about it,” Jackson said.
A few streets away, Shelia Stewart was worried about her and her husband’s life on East Commerce Street.
“I told Robert, I said if God doesn’t do something, if he doesn’t stop this water from coming in this house we’re going to drown right here. And so, we just started praying and asking God to save us because we didn’t want to die like that,” Stewart said.
Both Stewart and Jackson were saved by loved ones. After having their homes destroyed, the Appalachia Service Project stepped in with several community partners to help rebuild them. They hope to eventually rebuild a total of 25 homes.
“They get a brand new home to be their own that they can be in and rebuild their lives from tragedy and that’s always such a difficult thing, and home, what can replace a home?” Appalachia Service Project President and CEO Walter Crouch said.
For Jackson, they even added special features to accommodate his prosthetic leg as a result of his Type 1 diabetes.
“Even if something bad happens, something good can come from it. You just have to be patient and have a little faith,” Jackson said.
Stewart also credits her faith for getting her to this day.
“We did a lot of praying because I didn’t want to die in a flood, so here we are,” Stewart said. “We’re getting a new house built back in the same place and we’re just daredevils, we dare that creek to try that again.”
Mayor Buddy Frazier told News 2 that several major projects remain for the community, including repairing schools and rebuilding public housing. He estimated it could take years until Waverly fully recovers.