Sheriff: Bridge may have contributed to Waverly flooding

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WAVERLY, Tenn. (WKRN) – Last week we showed you this incredible time-lapse of the flash flood in Waverly, where in a matter of just 23 minutes, what was dry land was swallowed up by four feet of water from Trace Creek, carrying cars, trucks, and debris down the street.

Many believe there is a reason why the water came on so suddenly.

Just a little over a mile upstream from Waverly, the creek runs under the CSX Railroad Bridge.

Sheriff Chris Davis explained how that became a problem:

“It appeared that morning that a lot of the debris had come around this bridge behind us and had created a barrier, or a dam and allowed the water to back up for some length of distance behind the railroad trestle,” Davis stated. “And at some point in time, it appeared like it had given way. The railroad bed had given way during the build-up of the water and washed out, and eventually created a pretty massive rush of water that appeared to have gone through the areas down through where people lived.”

Sheriff Davis also said that it’s important to keep those creek beds clear of debris, but federal and state regulations regarding endangered species prevent them from doing so.

“County Executive Wallace and Mayor Frazier have worked diligently on this problem for the last few years trying to get in these creeks and trying to clean them up and trying to do things, and they’ve just been stonewalled every time they turned around,” Davis explained.

“It’s very, very sad that 20 lives had to be taken to bring that to light. At what point do we say that ‘hey we need to take some time to clean this up.’ If it’s a minnow or a crawfish or something that’s endangered, look what it’s done to our community and our home,” he continued.

The Humphreys County Commission met on Tuesday night and unanimously agreed to go with the Federal Flood Plan which marks areas around flood-prone areas.

Sheriff Davis explained what that means.

“They’ll put markers in place to wear ‘okay this is the floodplain and we don’t want you to build in this floodplain.’ And if so, they’re going to require permits and things like that. It will allow people to become flood insured and that kind of thing.”

The city of Waverly was already under the federal flood plan, but the county had opted out in the past.

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