Courtesy of Chadd Watkins
Courtesy of Melody Davis
Courtesy of Richard Davis
Richard Davis, a member at Dickson, Tenn., Church, stood by the window of his double-wide house, keeping an eye on the nearby creek. It was barely 8 o’clock in the morning, Saturday, August 21, 2021. Torrential rain poured down nonstop, and the fear of flooding was becoming more real.
Waking up two of his sons, the trio went outside to try to move their cars out of the driveway. But, it was too late. Within a matter of minutes, the creek had overflown and the cars could not be moved anymore. Back inside the house, the family tried to save some of their possessions before the water inevitably got it. Davis, who had surgery six weeks prior, could only watch as the water gushed in their home.
“We had about 30 inches of water in the house,” Richard said. “The walls were buckling in, and the floor was buckling in. After a while, we climbed out the window of one of my son’s bedrooms onto the back porch. And we stayed out there for about three hours.”
Not too far away, Melody Davis, a member at Dickson Church and Richard Davis’ sister, also struggled with the flash flooding taking place. She was in her mom’s house, located on the same property as the houses of her two brothers, Richard and Gary. Having moved to the second floor of the house, she looked out the window trying to see if her two brothers were okay.
“The window faced the creek,” Melody Davis said. “I couldn’t see what was going on with [my brothers] at all. I didn’t know if our cars were safe. I didn’t know if they were safe. I didn’t know what was going on.”
The scene following the flood was heartbreaking, Richard Davis said. The cars were totaled, houses were destroyed, and most of their possessions were damaged.
This was the case for many families across the communities in Waverly and McEwen, Tenn. According to AP News, the flooding reached a record high of 17 inches of rainfall, with more than 509 homes damaged or destroyed. Humphrey County officials reported 20 fatalities during a press conference on August 25.
Dickson and Bordeaux, Tenn., churches, led by Mike Foraker, pastor, have taken an active role in helping the affected areas. Through the donations of church members, the Bordeaux Church was able to hand out Walmart gift cards to help individuals buy everyday necessities lost in the flood. Dickson Church members also volunteered to deliver food and water to those in need.
Four families from the Dickson Church, including those of Richard and Melody Davis, lost much of their possessions during the flood. Dickson Church responded by providing temporary housing, food, water, and clothing; and by conducting regular visits to the families.
“We’ve received multiple calls from people in the church asking if we need anything,” Richard Davis said. “It’s just been a constant reach out from [church members] trying to help us. Whether it be with money, supplies, totes to put stuff in, clothes, or just anything — they have been there.”
Dickson Church coordinated with Harbert Hills, Tenn., Academy and Highland, Tenn., Academy to help in projects such as the removal of damaged possessions and clean-up of soiled items from homes and garages. More than 30 students, plus additional church members, joined these efforts.
At the request of the Volunteer Organization Active in Disasters (VOAD), Adventist volunteers also managed a warehouse for donations in the Waverly area.
“I really appreciate that wonderful spirit of our church family who are willing to help,” Foraker said. “I’m sure it’s going to take all the donations, plus more, to help these people in our church family rebuild.”
Melody Davis says her mother’s house can be salvaged, but it will take months before things go back to normal. Her brother’s house, his family home for the past 20 years, cannot be restored. He and his wife are planning to relocate.
“Despite all that has happened, I feel really blessed,” Melody Davis said. “I just really think that God has been watching over us. He kept us safe. He kept our lives.”
Kentucky-Tennessee | November 2021