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Flood swamps Tennessee church’s building — for the second time

Congregations open shelters and launch disaster relief efforts after record-breaking rain hits Middle Tennessee, claiming at least 18 lives.

The Pinewood Church of Christ in Nunnelly, Tenn., had to rebuild after devastating floods swamped the Volunteer State in May 2010.

More than a decade later, a deluge again has ravaged the Hickman County congregation’s meeting place.


How to help: Find details at the end of this story


This time, the church — about 60 miles southwest of Nashville — has no insurance to cover the losses, member Drew Grimes told The Christian Chronicle. 

Coverage was impossible to find after the last flood, said Grimes, who snapped a viral photo Saturday of water up to the building’s rooftop.

Floodwaters swamp the Pinewood Church of Christ in Nunnelly, Tenn.

Floodwaters swamp the Pinewood Church of Christ in Nunnelly, Tenn.

“It’s just utter devastation,” Grimes, 26, said of the scene surrounding the church, which averages Sunday attendance of 60 to 70. 

But the father of two young children said he believes “God has a plan for everything.”

“Even in the darkest hours, you’re still pulled closer together,” said Grimes, indicating that the church’s elders and other leaders would meet soon to discuss what to do.

The auditorium of the Pinewood Church of Christ in Nunnelly, Tenn., after Saturday's flooding.

The auditorium of the Pinewood Church of Christ in Nunnelly, Tenn., after Saturday’s flooding.

Housing victims, offering relief

Nearby, Churches of Christ are operating emergency shelters, checking on members and launching disaster relief efforts after the weekend flooding, which killed at least 18 in rural Tennessee.

Three people remain unaccounted for — according to The Associated Press — after record-breaking rain struck Middle Tennessee, including Dickson, Hickman, Humphreys and Houston counties.

“A lot of members have been affected. We currently don’t know how many,” said Debbie Hardin, secretary for the Waverly Church of Christ in hard-hit Humphreys County, about 65 miles west of Nashville. “We have just exited the search-and-rescue phase and entered the recovery phase. We are to the point today of trying to locate where members are. We haven’t had time to do that.”

A 16-year-old boy who was a friend to many in the congregation is among those confirmed dead, she said.

Nashville-based Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Effort already has delivered a tractor-trailer rig full of emergency food boxes and supplies to the 200-member Waverly congregation. 

“You can’t walk down the hall in our building right now — we have stuff everywhere.”

Other trucks headed to the McEwen Church of Christ, also in Humphreys County, and the Walnut Street Church of Christ in Dickson County.

The 200-member Waverly church’s building escaped any damage as up to 17 inches of rain fell in 24 hours Saturday. The congregation housed about two dozen flood victims Sunday night as donations poured in from near and far, Hardin said.

“Right now, all we’re taking is financial donations,” Hardin said when asked how fellow Christians could help. “You can’t walk down the hall in our building right now — we have stuff everywhere. Right now, people don’t have a place to put it.”

Volunteer crews to help

The Churches of Christ Disaster Response Team plans to help with the cleanup effort and will begin organizing volunteer crews on Friday, according to its Facebook page. 

The Double Springs Church of Christ in Cookeville, Tenn., about 150 miles east of Waverly, became a disaster relief hub after deadly tornadoes last year.

Memorial crosses near the March 3 tornado path in Cookeville, Tenn., pay tribute to the 18 people — 13 adults and five children — killed in Putnam County. A 19th Cookeville-area victim later died.

Memorial crosses near the March 3, 2020, tornado path in Cookeville, Tenn., pay tribute to 18 people — 13 adults and five children — killed in Putnam County. A 19th Cookeville-area victim later died.

Now — using the experience it gained then — that congregation is helping the Waverly church with its financial needs, supplies and cleanup, Double Springs elder Stacy Brewington wrote on Facebook.

Dylan Wood, youth minister at Double Springs, spoke of the incredible damage done to Waverly, a town of about 4,300.

Wood is helping assess needs for Disaster Response CofC, another ministry associated with Churches of Christ.

“It’s just like Cookeville. It looks like a tornado’s been through there,” Wood said. “As you pull into the town, it’s chaos.”

“It looks like a tornado’s been through there. As you pull into the town, it’s chaos.”

“Thank you to everyone for the thoughts, kind words and prayers,” the church said on its Facebook page. “Fortunately we are safe, please everyone continue to remember our neighbors in Waverly in your prayers, so much loss and so many still missing, pray for them, pray continually for them. … We will update as we get ready to coordinate the cleanup.”

The Fairfield Church of Christ in Centerville is offering aid to Pinewood and has sent trailer loads of items over the past few days, according to Liz Spears, wife of Fairfield elder Lafayette Spears. 

The Fairfield church, in Hickman County, also has opened its doors to flooding victims.

“Anyone in the Pinewood area that needs help from the flood, please come to the storm shelter and we will try to meet your needs,” the church said Monday on its Facebook page. “There are teams out to do assessment.”


How to help

Pinewood Church Of Christ, 6288 Pinewood Road, Nunnelly, TN 37137. Mark checks for “flood relief.”

Waverly Church of Christ, 438 West Main Street, Waverly TN 37185. Mark checks for “flood relief.” To donate electronically, text “Give” to (931) 288-4887.

Fairfield Church of Christ, 1860 Hwy 100, Centerville, TN 37033. Mark checks for “flood relief.”

Filed under: Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Effort Churches of Christ Disaster Response Team Disaster Assistance CoC disaster relief Double Springs Church of Christ flooding Middle Tennessee National News Partners Pinewood Church of Christ Tennessee Tennessee flooding Top Stories Waverly Church of Christ

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