Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Flooding and Devastation in Nashville

"Horses that should be in people's back yards and now in people's front yards because the back yard still looks like a lake." - true story I heard on the radio here in Nashville today

(Yes, people around here have horses.... not too terribly far outside of the city limits in fact.)

I have really appreciated all of the emails I got recently asking if I'm ok. Nashville did suffer from a catastrophic flood over the weekend. People died. Homes were destroyed. Downtown is under water (it's SO sad) and iconic spots in Nashville have pretty much been destroyed.

Go to YouTube and search for videos about Nashville flooding. Go on Facebook and search for groups about it to see the pictures. It's horrifying, really.

But I am one of the lucky ones. I was in East Nashville on Saturday when it started storming. Storms are not a big deal around here, so when you hear that one is in the forecast you don't really prep for the worst. No one knew what was going to happen.

Next thing I know, my mom is calling me all panicked to tell me not to come home because the interstate was flooding. We turned on the tv and watched the interstate I would have used turn into a river. Cars were floating. A school portable classroom came down, hit a bunch of cars and disappeared before our eyes.

Sunday, we woke to no power. It was STILL storming. Thunder. Lightning. Pouring rain. It had still not let up. A fallen tree across the road caused the power outage. Interstates were still closed. A short trip out to lunch took us by the park where one of the greenway systems is located... one that I've run many races on. We couldn't see it. The entire thing was under water.

The basement had flooded a bit, so we spent hours getting the mess cleaned up before it got too dark to work. It was nothing compared to what many people are facing.

Monday. Still no power. I was finally able to get home, clean up and head to work. I could hardly focus. I heard the Nashville mayor on the radio on my way in... while there weren't a ton of deaths (last I heard, the number was around 20), the devastation is MASSIVE. I personally know people who lost their homes and/or cars. The Cumberland River was still rising, and more and more of downtown was being flooded.

The Titans Stadium had water all the way up to the first row of seats. The hockey arena floor was covered. The symphony building was flooded, and the gorgeous organ inside was destroyed. Parking garages were under water. The sculpture on the river was totally submerged and destroyed (though I can't say I'm too sad about that one... it was ugly). Opry Mills Mall had water all the way up to the roof. Opryland Hotel had 10 feet of water throughout the first floor. The Grand Ole Opry had water all the way up to the stage.

Much of what makes Nashville what it is has been flooded. Businesses and homes have been lost.

But here's the thing. I love the south for many reasons, and one of the biggest is the people. We pull together. We count our blessings. We help each other out. And we get things back in gear.

I read a blog post today that sums things up about what I'm thinking better than I could have written myself. I'm going to copy and paste it below because I really believe you should read it, but you can find the original and the attribution here. I am in no way trying to pass these words off as my own - totally cut and pasted from that blog.

Allow me a moment to step away from the usual voice of this website.

What I am about to write has absolutely nothing to do with hockey.

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.

Because we are Nashville.


Jamie said...

I'm glad you are okay! It's absolutely nuts how Nashville has been given nearly no news time but it does say a lot about the city. I hope there is a swift recovery and Nashville is back to being a fantastic working city!

Kimberly300 said...

Hey Melanie, its good to hear you are ok.. we lost power for a couple of days but my bf a street over wasn't so lucky. Her house was flooded, although not completely destroyed its still several thousand dollars in repairs which will be completely paid for out of pocket since they had no flood insurance. Oh and they both work at Opryland so now they also may not have jobs to go back to for some time.

Of course the main thing is that no one was seriously hurt.. everything else is just stuff.. we have spent the last couple of days ripping out floors and hauling away all the mess. We take care of our own, right?

rinusrunning said...

WOW, bad rain and water and hope it wil go a way soon!.

Paul said...

Mel. So glad to her you are ok and so sorry to hear of the awful tragedy that has hit your hometown. I thought of you from the other side of the world when I heard this terrible news. Wishing you and your community all the best for getting through this one. Cheers, Paul from Oz.

Christy said...

Wow-that's a great post. I'm glad you're ok. I have some experience working in flood relief. If you know of any organizations or groups that are looking for volunteers (or even just friends/families that need help), let me know and I'll be on the next flight =)

runnernic.com said...

I'm glad your okay girl!! A break up to MI will be good and lots of fun for you to get out of the area for a few days! I cant wait to see you!!! xoxo

Love to Run said...

My prayers are out for all the people of Nashville and the surrounding areas.

d.a.r. said...

My prayers are with yall.