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“The Floods of Waverly”

Excellence in Coverage of Breaking News

The Tennessean, 2022

Author(s): Staff | The Tennessean


On Aug. 21, 2021, raging floodwaters ripped through Waverly, Tenn., in one of the most devastating natural disasters to ever strike the community. The flooding killed 20 residents, crushed buildings and left 238 families homeless.

The Tennessean told the heartbreaking stories of residents impacted by the disaster and meticulously documented the community’s enormous loss. The Tennessean’s team of journalists overcame the challenges of washed out roads and downed powerlines to report on the ground in Waverly. The journalists provided beleaguered residents with vital information, in real time, about the flood and its aftermath.

The Tennessean’s Waverly flood coverage extended beyond documenting the devastating impact of the disaster. Tennessean reporters took a deeper dive, unearthing documents that clearly warned more than 10 years ago that there was a potential for severe flooding in the rural community. The newspaper’s coverage skillfully raised the question of accountability, asking whether the powers that be could have done more during the intervening years to mitigate the flood’s devastating impact.