WAVERLY, Tenn. (WKRN) — Overcoming hardship is something Diane Williams knows all about.
“When I was actually able to get back, then I came in and realized my garage was gone,” she said. “Six feet of water had been in the house.”
Williams was one of many in Waverly impacted by the 2021 flood.
“It was very hard to see, and realizing that everything had to go out in the trash,” said Williams.
Tennessee First Lady Maria Lee also knows a thing or two about overcoming hardship.
‘I’m excited to be here today,” she said. “To let people know they are seen. They are not forgotten.”
For the last several months, the first lady has been battling cancer.
“Last Monday, I got a clean bill of health saying that there was no evidence of cancer and that I’m officially in remission,” Lee added.
After the clean bill, she decided to return to Waverly to help the Appalachia Service Project rebuild homes for residents.
While in Waverly, she and the governor had the opportunity to chat with Williams and other neighbors nearby.
“They were very concerned about how things were, and positive about how things are going,” the first lady said.
So far, 25 homes have been built for families impacted over the last two years.
The goal is 45 homes built, which the Appalachia Service Project hopes to meet by the end of this year.
“To see that homes are going up, lives are being restored, it’s encouraging,” Lee said.
It’s encouraging not just for the first lady, but also for Williams who knows her community will get back to what it use to be.
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“It’s taken a long time, but like they all say, it’s going to take time,” she said.
The first lady and her team took part in the initial clean-up efforts in the fall of 2021.
This was the third Tennessee Serves service project in Waverly since the historic flood.