Tuesday, May 3

Will history repeat itself?

It's been so long since I posted that I really have a lot to say but not enough time to say it all.

It's been a year since Nashville flooded.  My mom puts it best: "I used to watch flooding on the news and wonder why those people lived there if it floods."  This was thought before water surrounded her house.

The first weekend of May last year started like any other weekend.  M and I were hanging out, nothing particularly important planned.  And then it started to rain.  And it rained and rained and rained and rained.  I remember it being a lot of rain, but it really didn't seem like any more rain than we'd gotten other times in my life.

Saturday evening M and I sat down to watch the news because we had nothing better to do.  All the news could talk about was a flood.  Flood here, flood there.  I will always remember watching a classroom portable floating down I-24 and breaking apart.  While it floated down the interstate, cars bobbed here and there like toy ducks.  Water poured over the concrete median on the interstate.  My mind couldn't grasp what was happening.  

I talked to my parents and my dad said the common area behind our house, which for the 20 something years I lived with my parents had only completely covered with water (about an inch) once, was rising.  I figured "ok, no big deal.  It's never been an issue before."

Our power was out for long spurts at a time.  Sunday night we couldn't cook dinner because we had no power.  We opted to go the Asian place down the street.  While we were at dinner I received a phone call from my parents that I'll never forget: "We're evacuating the house."

I'm sorry, come again?

My parents said they were evacuating the house.  The water had come up over the driveway.  Luckily, my parents had been watching the water and moved their cars to higher ground and as the water filled the common area began to move precious valuables and memorable items into the attic.  My parents didn't have flood insurance, just like 90 something percent of Nashvillians.  Because it doesn't flood here.  Or didn't.

The week before my parents had just finished renovating their kitchen.  They spent Saturday, while it rained, moving everything back into the cabinets.  They didn't have flood insurance.  My mom was panicking.  Almost sick.  They went across the street to our neighbors, which is elevated.  

My dad went across the street every hour or so to check if it was receding.  Finally, around 2 in the morning Sunday night my parents went back in the house.  

My parent's house, surrounded by water
The back of my parents' neighborhood was a lake.  See the stop sign?  I used to wait for the school bus, right there.

The common area behind my parents' house.  There's a 7 foot hill behind the dogwood tree.

My parents' driveway.

They were lucky.  The water surrounded my parents house and made it about 3 or 4 inches below the back door.  The only damage they suffered was that their air conditioning unit and duct work under the house were ruined.  A small price to pay considering it needed to be fixed any way, and they got FEMA support. 

Many of their friends and neighbors weren't as lucky.  Many Nashvillians weren't that lucky.

I worked in Metro Center, north of downtown, which borders the Cumberland River (which flooded downtown Nashville.)  They wouldn't let us go to work for a week because they were worried the levee would break.  Many of my coworkers (who hadn't suffered flood damage) sat idle during that time.  I used those "days off" to help those in need. 

On Monday, I went to my parent's neighborhood to volunteer.  The water receded as quickly as it raged in.  I helped people rip out their floors.  It was devastating.  Tuesday I went with Hands on Nashville to help clean up debris that was scattered in yards (not just debris, large pieces of trash and furniture, etc.)  I found 5 dollars (which I sanitized, hardcore!)  Saturday, M and I went and helped a family in Bellevue (one of the hardest hit places) who had to be rescued by boat as their first story (which was already 10 feet off the ground) completely filled with water.  We threw away their memories and many of their dearest possessions.  

It was heart-breaking, but extremely rewarding.  I was blown away by how Nashville came together as a community.  

It's been a year.  One whole year.  Many people haven't moved back into their homes.  Many people straight up abandoned them.  

I will always remember where I was during the May flood.  I will always remember how it devastated a wonderful city.  It hurt the rich and the poor.  People of all races, religions, and ages.  Water is powerful.

I worry now for the rain we've had over the past two weeks.  Here in Nashville and in Memphis.  The Mississippi river threatens to flood again.  People's homes might be destroyed.  People in Alabama, Tuscaloosa especially, mourn for friends and family, homes and jobs.  The South is threatened.  And all I can do it hope and pray that sunny days come our way.


Bouncin' Barb said...

First off I'm glad your parents were safe and didn't suffer much damage. Second, you are to be commended for what you did. You just jumped in and helped. Didn't think twice. Just jumped. I can't image what you saw. I have friends in Alabama who are now witnessing similar atrocities to their friends and family. People like you make American what it is. Strong and courageousy.

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