‘We are lucky to be alive’: Waverly grocery store employees trapped for hours in floodwaters

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WAVERLY, Tenn. (WKRN) — Terrifying moments for eight employees trapped inside the Cash Saver grocery store in Waverly as flood waters raced inside the store Saturday.

David Hensley, one of the owners of the store said some employees tried to take cover on pallets of water and others on cash registers, but the water kept rising as they searched for higher ground.

“We seen it was going to overtake us even there. It was already waist deep by the time we come from there to try to… to try to get up here. We had to climb this,” Hensley began to cry.

With the water already over their heads, the employees took turns helping each other up the wall where they huddled together on a desk some seven feet up. Three other employees made it on top of an adjacent wall.

“We was watching the marks on the wall to see how much higher the water was coming, which our heads was already touching the ceiling. It was still coming up so fast our next thought was to try and tear through the roof, but still we couldn’t get out,” said Hensley.

911 lines were down as employee Karen Clerk said she prayed, “Just asked him to get us out of here… all of us.”

While trapped for hours the employees witnessed sights and sounds that will never be forgotten.

“Some man got sucked through the window on that end from outside and he came over here and managed to swim and come up on one of them boxes that were floating,” said Hensley.

The shrilling screams from their neighbors still haunting their minds.

“The manager of the dollar store was hanging on to a coco-cola box and he was trying to save her, and he was holding an electric cord and it pulled off I don’t think they ever found her to this day,” he said.

Eventually boaters trying to come to their rescue without luck. Some 5 hours later, the water receded enough that the eight employees could wade out. The water was still waist high, but they made it safely to a boat.

Today, as they clean up the store they are reunited with their family, unlike much of their community.

“We are lucky to be alive that’s all I can say,” said Clerk.

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