Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Great Flood: Recovery and Heroes

Today marks the date two months ago that torrential rain began to cause streams to flood in West and Middle Tennessee. 1 May A.D. 2010 was the beginning of the Great Flood. Here in Nashville rebuilding, recovering and repairing continue. We are Nashville!

In my driving around neighborhoods near the Cumberland River or Mill Creek in my ice cream truck I will occasionally encounter graphic reminders of the flood, and how my beloved hometown's recuperation is on-going. And every now and then there will be news on the airwaves or in print, about the continuing effort. For yours truly, the saddest news was a week or ten days back, when it was announced that the Schermerhorn Symphony Hall will cost $42 million in repairs! And it will be several months still 'til it's open for concerts again. Meanwhile the Grammy-winning Nashville Symphony, like the Grand Ole Opry show, keeps on keeping on in borrowed venues, of which, thank God, there are several here in Music City!

We are Nashville!

And, dear reader, I keep on contemplating memories of the heroes of the Great Flood! Lots of stories of heroism during the actual rising of the waters, their receding to normal and the immediate recovery were published or broadcast. I personally have a Top Three Heroes of the Flood.

One is a structure: the Omohundro Water Plant. This facility, which is well over a century old, is right beside the south bank of the Cumberland in my ZIP, 37210. The flooding river took out the other, newer, water plant, the Harrington. It almost took out the Omohundro, too. But volunteers, including inmates, feverishly stacked sandbags around the water plant, and managed -- barely -- to save it! Otherwise, instead of being asked to cut water use in half, Nashvillians would have had to rely on trucked-in H2O! So by inference, the heroes in this case will cover not only the plant itself but also prisoners and other volunteers who helped save it so it could save us some drinking water!

Another of my trio of heroes is Mayor Karl Dean. I already liked our Metro Nashville-Davidson chief, among other things because he supports dedicated funding and other features to improve mass transit here, and despite his pushing for the new convention center that Nashville doesn't need. But his calm yet firm, determined, handling of the disaster truly hiked my admiration for Mayor Dean! I think of him being to the Great Flood what our President was to Nine-Eleven: a real spirit-lifter, a lighter of the beacon of hope.

Nevertheless, my vote for greatest heroism and most positively lifting spirits of area residents is Jeannie Seely of the Opry! Her home on the river near the Opry House and her car were inundated. And yet the evening after the flood crested Jeannie was on the Tuesday Nite Opry, singing, speaking about the flood and its effects and sharing her distinctive sense of humor. One of my favorite quotes from the disaster is Jeannie saying, “It’s so great to be here. Somebody said, ‘I can’t believe you’re going to play the Grand Ole Opry tonight.’ I said, ‘Well, it’s not like I can stay home and watch TV.’ You can laugh about it or cry, and I don’t want to cry.” At her "stay home and watch TV" yours truly laughed out loud, and at her final comment I cheered out loud!

Jeannie continued to share such encouraging wisdom in the weeks since the flood. She and other music stars resident here have been very active in setting up and performing in area concerts to raise funds for flood relief. And doesn't this seem so fitting for the city that's famous as Music City USA?

We are Nashville!

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