That's what one local newscaster said of the damage in middle Tennessee after receiving between 15 and 20 inches of rain in only two days. To put things in perspective for those not familiar with the climate here, that's more rain than we would normally get for all of May and June combined. That's about 28% of our annual rainfall amount, and we got it all in TWO DAYS. The Cumberland River finally crested last night at 51.96 feet, which is a record in the modern era since the TVA built dams to avoid this kind of situation. Now, slowly, the clean-up begins.
Hundreds of families have lost everything they own. Entire communities are still underwater. Tens of thousands were out of power and thousands still are. The damage to property is in the billions, and that number will continue to climb as the water recedes. Shelters are set up all over the mid-state area to accommodate the impossibly large number of people who suddenly found themselves homeless after this weekend. Water treatment plants are underwater and residents are advised to conserve water however possible. The infrastructure of the mid-state area is in jeopardy with roads, bridges, and other structures under so much pressure from the raging water. Schools have been closed all across the middle Tennessee area for two days, and those closures will continue this week.
"Well, why didn't they have flood insurance?" you might ask. Because these areas were not even in a one hundred year flood plain. We're talking about areas that have never flooded in the era of recorded history. Some of the people in the Bellevue area, where hundreds of homes are totally submerged up to the roof, even tried to purchase flood insurance when they bought their homes. They did not qualify for flood insurance because the area was not considered at risk of flooding. No one could have seen this coming.
Ordinarily, people would turn to government agencies for help during a crisis like this. But guess what, many of those agencies were in danger themselves: the Red Cross building, Nashville Electric Service, the Second Harvest Food Bank, the Department of Human Services, and several other government offices were underwater. People couldn't even go to the stadium where the Titans play to seek shelter, because LP field itself was underwater.
Historic buildings are suffering massive destruction. Tourist attractions like Opryland Hotel, the Schermerhorn, the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Opry House, and many more are underwater. We had an interstate underwater and more than 170 cars had to be towed from it when the water receded. Heck, a freakin' portable classroom was floating down the highway and imploded when it collided with a tractor-trailer truck and it was all caught on camera!!
And where is the national news coverage? The only national reporters I've seen around here are from The Weather Channel. Everyone's heard about the car bomb in Times Square and the oil spill in the Gulf Coast, but I've seen several people on Facebook who have no idea that we have our own natural disaster right here in Tennessee.
Seriously? Where's frickin' whiney, liberal NBC news? When the final damage estimates are in, I'll bet this will be more costly than the damage New Orleans suffered when Katrina hit five years ago. Where is the media? Why is this not a bigger story in the national news? I'll tell you why.
Because Tennesseans take care of their own.
I'm so proud of the way my hometown (and the entire state) have responded to this emergency. Within hours of the start of the flooding, residents of Knoxville were coming to the Nashville area with boats and emergency supplies. Locals did not blame the mayor, the governor, or the president. They pushed their sleeves up, dug in, and got to work trying to save our city. Inmates at the prison were out sandbagging around buildings, trying to protect them before the water rushed in. People whose homes were underwater did not sit around whining and expecting the government to rush in to save everyone else once they themselves were brought to safety. Even though they'd lost everything, they helped their neighbors who'd also lost everything. They didn't wait for someone else to do the rescuing.
No, they rounded up boats and searched the hardest-hit areas trying to save other people in need. They didn't say, "Oh, poor pitiful me. My house is underwater." They said, "That's all stuff. We're just glad we all got out safely. People are more important than things." Now let's help more people get to safety. Nobody said, "Where's FEMA? Where's Obama? Why isn't anyone helping us?" Neighbors helped neighbors. That's the way it should be. Heck, that's Biblical, folks!
That's Tennessee. The Volunteer State. The state I'm proud to call home.
If you want to donate to help my fellow Tennesseans, please do one of the following:
- Visit www.nashvilleredcross.org and click DONATE NOW to make an online gift
- Mail a check to the Nashville Area Red Cross, 2201 Charlotte Avenue, Nashville, TN 37203
- Call (615) 250-4300 to make a donation by phone
- Text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation on your mobile phone