Nashville Rising (& Serving Together)

I haven’t written about the Nashville flood yet, because I’m just not sure I can do it proper justice. And there are many others out there who have done some amazing posts/reflections on it already. I am not necessarily the best writer. But I do want to say a few things.

For those that may not be aware, on the weekend of May 1-2, Nashville got 13-15 inches of rain. It was 28% of our average annual rainfall in just 48 hours! We just thought it was going to be a rainy weekend. No one saw this coming.Thousands of homes have been destroyed. People lost everything in a matter of hours. Interstates were turned in to rivers. 20 something people died in the flood. Famous Nashville landmarks were filled with water – the Country Music Hall of Fame, Titans Stadium, Opryland Hotel… Estimates put the damage at more than $1.5 billion. This was no 10-year flood, 50-year flood, or even 100-year flood. I have now heard that a rain like this only happens every 5,000-8,000 years!

Here are a few things to read and view, in order to get a good feel for what happened:
“We Are Nashville” post – an excellent read and what started a “We Are Nashville” movement
This is an excellent short video overview of the flood
Some incredible pictures of Middle Tennessee flooding

The most amazing thing of all has been to see people, neighborhoods, churches, communities reaching out to each other and helping each other. You don’t really hear stories of people blaming the government for not helping, or of much looting, or anything like that. That’s the main point on all of the media coverage that I’ve seen on the Nashville flood – that people are just getting out there and doing their part to help each other.

Cason & I had the privilege to be able to volunteer on Saturday through Hands on Nashville. We signed up to help with generic flood clean-up right here in our own zip code. I really wasn’t sure what to expect or what we’d encounter. We got to the center and as soon as they found out I spoke some Spanish, they sent us out to a trailer park on Antioch Pike. If you’ve seen much of the media coverage and the pictures, this is right by the area where the interstate (I-24) was completely flooded and a school building went floating down the road. A long stretch of Antioch Pike was just completely decimated. We got to this trailer park and there were about 8 trailers at the lower end that were destroyed. They were all Hispanic families so I was able to put my (rough) Spanish abilities to use a little bit. We helped to gut the trailer of Juan, Yane(?), and their children. Everything had to come out – carpet, floors, walls, insulation, cabinets. Pretty much everything that the flood waters touched had to be thrown out. Another girl & I packed away anything salvageable from their kitchen area which was already infested with ants by that point. It was heart breaking to work side-by-side with this family as we tore up what was left of their home, throw things in to piles at the curb, and stack up their few remaining possessions. By this area’s standards, they didn’t have much to start with, and now they have far less. Someone was able to secure them a storage unit (it was either donated by the place or it was purchased by someone on their behalf). So we helped load up their remaining possessions and took them over there.

I felt strange leaving them to go back home to my nice, dry house. I can’t imaging what they, and countless other families around here, are going through. It just doesn’t seem right… It’s something else I just can’t put in to words.

Anderson Cooper came to Nashville to report on the situation last week. They called the segment “Nashville Rising”. Yes, as a city, Nashville has suffered a terrible disaster. So many families have suffered so much loss. But it really has been amazing to witness so many people coming together. I think I heard that within just the first few days of Hands on Nashville starting to coordinate volunteer efforts, there were like 11,000 registered volunteers. And that doesn’t count the amazing efforts of churches and other groups.

Bottom Line: The work is far from over. Please continue to give, pray, and help. But God is definitely doing a great work in this city and I have never been so proud to be a Nashvillian!

**Update: Here’s another great story to read more on the personal side of the loss and devastation, from MSNBC – “In Nashville, hope springs among the tears”

**And one more heart-wrenching account of the wide scope of what happened: What the Media Missed in the Nashville Flood