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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Water Water Everywhere

It was  2pm on Saturday May 1st.  I had a pounding headache from the previous night's activities, it was raining buckets outside and nothing-- I mean, nothing-- sounded better than a nap.  I took four advil and got into bed, under all my covers.  Couch naps are for amateurs.  I was thinking I'd be down for 3 hours MINIMUM, right?!  WRONG.  About 30 minutes into my siesta, something hit the side of my house.  I still don't know what it was, but it shook it to it's foundation, and I swear it was the loudest sound I had ever heard.. EVER.  I jumped up so high that I'm pretty sure I caught air.  I ran into the kitchen to find a river in my back yard.  The front yard looked the same way.  No roads could be seen at all.  It was like a class three river rapid with my house stuck right in the middle.  Water was inches away from coming inside.  My car was underwater up to its hood (rest in peace, Fini).  My beautiful as-yet-unfinished-privacy fence had washed away.  I watched patio furniture float past, garbage cans barrel by, storage sheds had been ripped from their foundations, my neighbor dog, William Bogart, the prettiest black and white spotted Great Dane you ever saw--- swimming furiously trying to find refuge, and there was nothing I could do.  I just... watched...

I turned on the television to hear weather reports of a "rain-wrapped tornado" but they weren't really telling me anything... and shortly after that I lost power.  

I contemplated calling my father.. but I knew there was nothing he could really DO.  He's four hours away.. and I didn't want him to worry.  But after about 20 minutes.. I folded.  I mean-- a girl needs her daddy in times like these.  He was confused... as was everyone I talked to in those first few hours.  Many people were affected in the Nashville area, but many people simply were not. If you lived in a condo or town home, chances are you were at higher elevation... and if you didn't turn on the news.. you just didn't know about the devastation happening all around.

The flood waters continued throughout the next day. When it subsided, there was nothing to do but go out and survey the damage.  Lots of debris had washed into the yard.  The most exciting of which I collected were two yard knomes that were promptly and affectionately named "Elfis" and "Gargamel".  I also found, pieces of others fences, a fitted sheet, several baseball caps, a couple of dead fish, and a VHS copy of some foot fetish pornography... Volume 35, whaaat?

We banded together as neighbors.  Helping each other, consoling each other, swapping stories, lending advice...  It was a beautiful thing.  There is such a sense of community in my little Crieve Hall neighborhood now. We've bonded in a very special way. 

The damage to my house could definitely have been worse.  In the end, it never came into my home, and I am truly thankful for that.  My car is totaled.  I need all new insulation underneath my house, all new duct work; the crawl space has to be disinfected so that mold won't become a problem.  My fingers are crossed that my hardwood floors won't buckle and warp.  So far, so good on that.  I had fans under the house less than 24 hours after the water went down, so I'm hoping that helped to combat that issue.  My HVAC unit needs replacing.. and that, thanks to record low temperatures around here lately, ... has me back on the space heater bandwagon.  Good thing I had them already!!  (New readers: please refer to:

My house smells like camp, but I'm getting used to it. And I was made to buy flood insurance before I could close on this house... so I am truly fortunate.  Much more so than some of my fellow Nashvillians.  I am, however, a firm believer in that "whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger."  There is proof of this all around this great city.  The following article means a lot to me.  It means a lot to everyone that lives here I should imagine.  If you've got a few more minutes, please read it... and weap.

If you live outside of Nashville, you may not be aware, but our city was hit by a 500-year flood over the last few days. The national news coverage gave us 15 minutes, but went back to focusing on a failed car bomb and an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. While both are clearly important stories, was that any reason to ignore our story? It may not be as terror-sexy as a failed car bomb or as eco-sexy as an oil spill, but that’s no reason to be ignored.

The Cumberland River crested at its highest level in over 80 years. Nashville had its highest rainfall totals since records began. People drowned. Billions of dollars in damage occurred. It is the single largest disaster to hit Middle Tennessee since the Civil War. And yet…no one knows about it.
Does it really matter? Eventually, it will…as I mentioned, there are billions of dollars in damage. It seems bizarre that no one seems to be aware that we just experienced what is quite possibly the costliest non-hurricane disaster in American history. The funds to rebuild will have to come from somewhere, which is why people need to know. It’s hard to believe that we will receive much relief if there isn’t a perception that we need it.

But let’s look at the other side of the coin for a moment. A large part of the reason that we are being ignored is because of who we are. Think about that for just a second. Did you hear about looting? Did you hear about crime sprees? No…you didn’t. You heard about people pulling their neighbors off of rooftops. You saw a group of people trying to move two horses to higher ground. No…we didn’t loot. Our biggest warning was, “Don’t play in the floodwater.” When you think about it…that speaks a lot for our city. A large portion of why we were being ignored was that we weren’t doing anything to draw attention to ourselves. We were handling it on our own.

Some will be quick to find fault in the way rescue operations were handled, but the fact of the matter is that the catastrophe could not have been prevented and it is simply ignorant beyond all reason to suggest otherwise. It is a flood. It was caused by rain. You can try to find a face to stick this tragedy to, but you’ll be wrong.

Parts of Nashville that could never even conceivably be underwater were underwater. Some of them still are. Opry Mills and the Opryland Hotel are, for all intents and purposes, destroyed. People died sitting in standstill traffic on the Interstate. We saw boats going down West End. And, of course, we all saw the surreal image of the portable building from Lighthouse Christian floating into traffic and being destroyed when cars were knocked into it. I’m still having trouble comprehending all of it.

And yet…life will go on. We’ll go back to work, to school, to our lives…and we’ll carry on. In a little over a month, I’ll be on this website talking about the draft. In October, we’ll be discussing the new Predators’ season with nary a thought of these past few days. But in a way, they changed everyone in this town. We now know that that it can happen to us…but also know that we can handle it.

I've posted pictures of my personal experience, but I know you've seen and heard about worse on the news and in articles online and elsewhere.

I am humbled, mindful, thankful, and forever changed by the outpouring of help, support and prayer that I, myself, have received.  Please don't stop praying for Music City.  We've got a long way to go. 

Yours Ever,