WAVERLY, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Waverly community gathered on the public square Saturday night to remember the 20 lives lost during the catastrophic floodwaters one year ago.
Governor Bill Lee offered remarks, calling the 2021 flood one of the most tragic events in Tennessee history.
“A year is not a very long time, but it is a really important time for us to come together and to remember, to continue to support one another, to continue to pray for one another,” Governor Lee said.
Many Waverly residents said it doesn’t feel like a year has passed.
“Nothing’s the same. It feels just like we’re still back there,” said Kelsey Schultz, who lost her son, 16-year-old Nathaniel Whitsett, during the flood.
His brother was able to hold onto a pole and thankfully survived.
“It wasn’t pleasant. They both went out the window,” Schultz recalled. “They went out the window at the same time. Water was rushing and we didn’t know for three days whether he was alive or dead,” Schultz said.
Nathaniel’s grandmother, Susan Voegeli, shared her takeaway from the flooding.
“Never ever, ever take for granted anything or anyone. If you love somebody, tell them you love them,” Voegeli said.
As the community continues to prove the meaning of “Waverly Strong”, the governor says they grieve, but they grieve with hope.
“It is the highest honor I have to be here tonight to remember, to grieve with you, to honor those who are lost, but to walk in great hope with great expectation for the redemption that is to come to this community,” Governor Lee said.
Community members were encouraged to attend Sunday morning services at any of the local churches to remember the occasion. A memorial service will be held Sunday, August 21, at 6 p.m. at Waverly High School.