you’re the God of this city

the flood is devastating. all floods are. Nashville is my home. it’s the place i’ve grown up. met my best friends. been on first dates. the cityscape is the backdrop to my ‘thinking place.’  i’ve had the best times of my life in and around this city. and my city is now forever changed. by water. whenever i’m at an ocean, i’m reminded how small I am in the midst of the world. nothing makes you feel smaller than looking out into the ocean at night. there’s something about hearing the waves crash violently against the sand that forcefully reminds me how insignificant i am in the grand scheme of things. in a matter of seconds, the water come up, crash against the sand, and take me out with it. hurricanes. unstoppable.  water is one of the most unpredictable, unstoppable, powerful forces of nature. with tornadoes, it happens, its over, and the cleanup can begin nearly immediately. with lightning, same thing. earthquakes, same thing. you see the devastation almost immediately.

not with water.

you have to wait until it recedes. until it decides you can see just how powerfully it has changed your world. this could be hours, days, or even months until it decides you can cleanup and begin piecing your life back together. this is nashville currently.

i’ve been downtown. i’ve seen nearly every single riverfront business underwater. i’ve seen the cumberland river forever change the lives of business owners. i’ve seen it ravage industrial parks. flood parking lots. consume riverfront park. consume ‘tent city’ where so many homeless called ‘home.’  I’ve seen it devastate local businesses many poured their life savings into.

tonight. i drove through bellevue on my way home from church. here i saw water destroy the homes of those local business owners. here i saw where water from creeks consumed the lives of thousands. i saw car lots empty because all of the cars had been totaled in the flood. i saw a local ymca sign for a flooded Y display “bellevue and nashville are in our prayers.”  I saw 200 year old stone walls crumpled like a pile of gravel. massive oak trees ripped up by the roots strewn across roads. plantation homes with no power because of the flooding. dust was everywhere because the mud that covered the road has since been caked on by the sunshine. all of this made my stomach turn into knots. but what really got me was the smell. when floodwater begins to recede and people are allowed to begin to search for the pieces of their lives, there is a smell like no other. the smell of homes, pictures, business, food, cars, gasoline, trash, trees, grass, mud, and anything else that stood in the path of the water. a stench no one can contain and no one can erase. no febreeze. no scented candles can control it.

bellevue is not on the river. it’s not on a lake. its not on any major body of water. if i were a homeowner, i wouldn’t even think about getting flood insurance. sure the harpeth river is closeby, but the dams and the cumberland river keep that in check.  14 inches of rain in 24 hours changed all of that. thousands of families have been displaced because of a flood and many of them likely have no flood insurance. water was up to the second floors of their homes. their cars are ruined. their homes are ruined. no one could have predicted this, so unlike many hurricanes and some tornadoes, most families had little to no time to grab the things most precious to them.   bellevue is also a small community on the outskirts of nashville, so many local businessmen and women have their businesses and homes in the area. imagine having both your home and your business lost in a single weekend to a flood that no one could have predicted, and you have no flood insurance. this is the case in at least one situation.

it’s hard for me to stomach this disaster. its hard for me to realize i’m leaving in 17 days for my summer job while my city tries to find its feet again.

all of this is less than 10 miles from me. my kroger grocery store…flooded out and a car nose first into the ground. a body was found in a creek created by the flood behind it. two people i work with lost everything. the road i take to school..was flooded out and had a portable from a local school float onto it and into a semi. countless people i know have been affected. i am blessed to have only had minor water damage in my basement, but please pray for those who have not been so lucky.

my family has its roots deep in the country music industry. my grandfather and his brother (the louvin brothers) were a huge gospel/bluegrass band in the 1950s and my grandfather has since had a successful solo career as a bluegrass artist. they are members of the grand ole opry and the country music hall of fame. as a child, i grew up going to the opry on saturday nights and spending my summers at opryland. christmases consisted (and still have) of a trip to opryland hotel to see all the cool plants and the christmas lights. we’d eat at a local cracker barrel or shoney’s with my grandparents whenever he had a show.  i grew up with the opry.  the opry is nashville. without it, nashville would not be the tourist center it is today. it is easily the most integral piece in nashville’s history. and it  is currently under 15 feet of water. pews from the original opry at the ryman auditorium are currently molding in floodwater. the circle on the opry stage that goes with the “will the circle be unbroken” opry theme is currently underwater (it’s old and wooden, not exactly fixable).  the backstage area with porter waggoner memorabilia and other artist memorabilia has been flooded. the opryland hotel has millions of dollars in damage and all restaurants and imported plants are ruined. fun fact: there were plants in the hotel from every state in the country and many international countries. opry mills mall which was build on my childhood opryland theme park is soaking in 15-2o feet of water. you cant pump that out in a mega mall or a convention center. the cumberland river has overtaken.  diesel fuel from the delivery trucks at the hotel is seeping into the ruins, making it unsafe for anyone trying to salvage anything. the country music hall of fame, which is downtown, has water in the basement, but luckily no memorabilia has been damaged.

the city is losing countless tourism revenue and will continue to do so for awhile, as the convention center at opryland hotel won’t open for an estimated 6-9 months and many downtown businesses are scrapped. who knows what can be done about opry mills mall, the farmer’s market, and other businesses still soaking in floodwaters.

and there’s nothing anyone can do until the water recedes.

i haven’t been out to nor do i know much about, but west nashville, bordeaux area, neely’s bend, pennington bend, franklin, brentwood, hendersonville, goodletsville, and parts of murfreesboro have also been affected.

i beg you to pray for this city.

pray for the leadership of it to handle this unprecedented disaster

pray for the families affected, whether it be home, business, or just local favorite place

pray for the businesses and their employees affected

pray for those who have friends that have been affected, that they will open their homes and their hearts

pray that the city will continue to band together as it has so well over the past several days

pray for all of the law enforcement working triple time and their families.

pray for those still waiting for the waters to recede

and pray for those who are helping, and those who want to help.

i’ve compiled several links i’ve found that detail ways to help below. if you’re not local,  please spread the word about this disaster and text ‘REDCROSS’ to 90999 to donate $10 to flood relief.”  the money is being used across the southeast for those affected by floods and recent tornadoes.

more locally,

Flood FAQ: Clearing Up The Information Disaster [Flood 2010]

Local Businesses Pitch In For Flood Relief [Flood 2010]

the most comprehensive list… So Nashville Is Flooded… How Can I Help? [Flood 2010]

Help Nashville Facebook group

buy a nashville flood relief shirt

more links to be added later.

please continue to spread the word about the RedCross texting, and please help those around you. take donations of clothes, water, food, etc to local area donation drop offs (sorry i dont have a list, google does).

to see a comprehensive flickr album of flood coverage, click here


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