Thursday, August 5, 2010

We Are Nashville (keepin' on keepin' on)

Well, it's now been three months since record torrential rains in Tennessee and adjacent States caused rivers to rise to unprecedented levels in the Great Flood of May 2010. Lives were lost (11 here in Nashville) and billions of dollars damage was inflicted on the region, in flooded homes, businesses, public buildings and the transportation infrastructure.

But now, three months later in early August as you or I travel around Music City, the metropolis looks pretty much "normal" i.e., as it did pre-flood. Just don't let a quick glance around fool you, dear reader! There is STILL damage to be repaired, there are residents who aren't back in their homes -- and homeless who still seek a new "camping spot" since "Tent City" beneath the Silliman Evans Bridge washed away -- and unemployed workers whose jobs drowned in the floodwaters.

In the past seven days I myself saw continuing evidence of the flood's fury. A neighborhood just off Lebanon Road which I drive thru selling ice cream lies partly in the flood zone of Mill Creek, and when I first re-entered it after the flood the lowest portions of it were busy with men cleaning flood debris. They'd eagerly purchase ice cream, but in a week or so the clean-up job was finished and they left. However, I continued to make sales to residents, both those living on higher ground, and those in the process of making their flooded homes habitable again.

I was just beginning to think the whole neighborhood had gotten back to "normal" when last Saturday I espied several folks at the end of a short cul-de-sac that I'd never driven down before (not even pre-flood). Eager to see if these people might make purchases, I directed the wagon into that cul-de-sac. Well, it turned out that these weren't residents out enjoying the late afternoon shade; they were either workers or residents still laboring on the houses.

As I passed each house, on both sides, coming and going, I saw that every one of them had doors and windows wide open. And thru the openings one could see that the insides were empty and stripped down to the two-by fours! These homes still awaited repair work to make them once again inhabitable!

It will still be several months before all repair work is done.

Yours truly hardly needed this experience to remind me of the on-going recovery efforts. Almost daily I'll be on the MTA route 15 bus from the downtown depot to Mercury Courts. Just ten or so blocks south of the depot on Fourth Avenue South sits the Schermerhorn Symphony Hall. This young, beautiful and awesome edifice yet is surrounded by temporary chain-link fencing. They're still working on repairing the Schermerhorn, which suffered over 40 million dollars damage. And of course, repair work continues on the Grand Ole Opry House, the Opryland Hotel, the mall that took Opryland Park's place, Nashville MTA offices and so on.

Yes, dear reader, Nashville may look pretty much back to "normal" -- and was indeed "open for business" regarding the music and tourism industries in just a matter of days after the Cumberland River crested. On the other hand, much work remains to be done, to REALLY get us all the way back to "normal"! So please pray for us. And remember: We Are Nashville!

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