A. O. Smith, a water heater manufacturer, has donated 200 water heaters for Waverly, Tenn., flood relief efforts. The units will be provided to flood victims who are still rebuilding eight months after storms ripped through the town on Aug. 21, 2021.
“At A. O. Smith, we are deeply committed to supporting our local communities,” says David Chisolm, vice president of marketing and customer experience. “Hot water is such a basic life necessity. We hope the donation of these units will allow this community to rebuild more quickly while lessening the financial burden. We also hope that this will inspire other companies to step forward with additional donations to assist in rebuilding the Waverly community.”
In August 2021, treacherous storms swept through the Waverly community claiming 20 lives, including several children. Hundreds of homes were damaged, and some residents have even had to purchase trailers and RVs to live in while their homes are being repaired. Of the homes that were destroyed or severely damaged, 80 percent of them are owned by people ages 70 or older, and most of those homeowners are living on social security wages.
“The past eight months since the flood have been incredibly difficult, but Waverly is a resilient town,” says Waverly resident Susan Hodges. “When our family began rebuilding, we had no idea how long the process would take or just how expensive it would be. We’re grateful for the money we’ve saved by not having to purchase a water heater, but the impact of A. O. Smith’s donation goes beyond that—it’s a huge step toward making our home livable once again, and it’s raised our spirits along the way.”
FEMA helped support the community at the beginning of its redevelopment phase immediately after the flooding, but the extensive damage has continued to put pressure on homeowners. Community members have worked relentlessly to help their neighbors, friends and family in the area recover from the devastation. Hodges has two adult children living in Waverly whose houses were destroyed by the flood. She has spent the last eight months assisting them in their complete home renovations.
“The Waverly community has worked tirelessly to help neighbors and friends rebuild from this tragedy. We are so thankful for the water heater donation from A. O. Smith,” says Kaye Thomas of First Baptist Church Relief Efforts. “Water heaters are an essential item that many of our homeowners could not afford without the help from A. O. Smith. This donation truly gave the Waverly community a renewed sense of hope in what continues to be a long road to recovery. It will allow our community to continue to push forward in recovery efforts as we rebuild.” The units were delivered to the First Baptist Church in Waverly earlier this year, and roughly 100 units have already been distributed to families in need. Distribution and installation will continue in the coming months.