Waverly, TN – Heavy rainfall fell on Humphreys County from August 20th to 21st, causing rivers to rise to historic levels. Over 17 inches of rain fell in less than 24 hours, shattering the one-day rainfall record in Tennessee. Trace Creek, which runs through the heart of Waverly, transformed into a raging river after collecting rain from the hills of McEwen and Gorman.
The flash floods were catastrophic, killing 20 people and damaging over 550 homes and businesses. As of August 21st, after the rain had subsided, up to 20 people were still missing.
“Our first priority was to assist with getting responders access to the area and conduct rescue operations,” said Maj. Gen. Jeff Holmes, Tennessee’s Adjutant General.
Over the next few days, more than 100 additional Soldiers and Airmen were sent to the area. As all missing persons became accounted for, the Tennessee National Guard’s focus shifted from rescue to relief. The Joint Adaptive Battle Staff coordinated ongoing and future operations in Humphreys County while units sent personnel to the disaster area.
A large portion of the activated Guardsmen were from the 194th Engineer Brigade, headquartered in Jackson. The 194th provided bulldozers, dump trucks, and other heavy equipment used to assist with cleanup operations. Guardsmen spent the next two weeks conducting debris removal, traffic control, security, and supply distribution missions in the most affected areas of Humphreys County.
“While conducting debris removal operations, we provided security and access control in affected areas,” said Maj. Kevin Carroll, officer in charge of Task Force Engineer. “We also coordinated with local law enforcement on water re-supply missions; ensuring members of the community and volunteers had access to potable drinking water.”
Along with the 194th, Guardsmen from the 134th Air Refueling Wing headquartered in Knoxville, the 118th Wing in Nashville, the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment in Knoxville, and the 230th Sustainment Brigade in Chattanooga all provided personnel to aid Humphreys County during these missions.
The Tennessee State Guard, which is an all-volunteer defense force that supports the state mission of the Tennessee National Guard, also provided over 50 personnel to help with recovery. A large portion of them operated a donation point at the Waverly National Guard Armory, collecting and distributing food, water, and supplies for community members in need.
By September 10th, the Tennessee National Guard successfully helped with the rescue, clean-up, and the distribution of emergency supplies to the community. Engineers removed more than 650 loads of debris that blocked roads, clogged waterways, and created hazards throughout the county.