Tag Archives: Nashville flood

Overwhelming: A snapshot of the devastation caused by the Nashville Flood of 2010

16 May

Debris line the streets of a Bellevue neighborhood during the flood recovery process. May 8, 2010

I took this camera-phone photo from the passenger seat of a Honda CR-V as three friends and I were leaving a flood-damaged Bellevue neighborhood late Saturday afternoon, one week after the historic flooding in Middle Tennessee. We had spent the past several hours doing whatever we could to help people we didn’t even know clean up what was left of their homes after the waters had subsided. By the time we had arrived, much of the dirty work had already been done. But we cleaned and sorted and tore down what we could of what was left.

By the end of the day, most of the homes had been completely cleared of possessions.  These had been painstakingly (and I’m sure, tearfully) sorted into separate piles: salvageable items and trash. Family photos, children’s drawings, letters, and high school yearbooks were scattered across backyards to dry out and, in hopes, saved. Books, furniture, appliances, and garbage bags filled with unsalvageable items were piled chest-high out front to be picked up with the trash. Most of the homes had even been stripped down to the frame – carpet, flooring, and drywall removed and added to the piles of debris.

When I looked down the street at an entire row of houses with front lawns piled high with debris, one word came to mind – overwhelming.

From the first day the rain began, I spent hours upon hours poring over photos and video footage of the flooding. I saw photos of these same houses filled with water over my head. I saw the video of the classroom floating down I-24 and the live coverage of the Cumberland cresting and flooding downtown Nashville. I saw the photos of Opry Mills and Opryland and even the Opry stage. These images were all shocking and saddening.

But they were just that to me: shocking images. Seeing photos of the rising water, however, did not compare to seeing the actual damage caused by the water. I was unable to wrap my mind around the depth of the devastation until I saw, firsthand, homes stripped to the bone.  Construction paper drawings that once proudly covered refrigerator doors strewn across lawns. A woman packing up what was left of her belongings, loading them into a car, and pulling out of her driveway with tears in her eyes – tears she had been holding back because until then, there was no time for tears, only tough decisions and hard work. Soggy, mud-covered books being tossed into black heavy-duty trash bags. Entire rows of homes practically hidden by mounds and mounds of curbside debris.


But the destruction wasn’t the only thing I found overwhelming that day. In the photo above, if you look past the ruined furniture and the drywall and the trash, you’ll see something else lining the curb. Cars. Cars filled with friends and neighbors, even  strangers. People willing to do the dirty work, the hard labor, the heavy lifting helping people sort through the mud and the debris so they can begin to put their lives back together.

And that made the damage seem a little less overwhelming, a little less devastating, and a little less hopeless. Because in the end, the most reassurance comes in knowing you’re not in it alone.


Nashville, Please Do Your Part to Conserve Water

6 May

After talking with friends recently, I have realized that some people are unaware of the seriousness of the water shortage here in Nashville and the surrounding area. There are people who may not think that it’s a big deal, but conserving water in Nashville is STILL a very serious issue. Just because the flooding has subsided, that doesn’t mean that we are in the clear. Just because life may be returning to normal for you and for others in the area, that doesn’t mean that we are not still in a disaster zone.

If you didn’t already know this, one of our water treatment facilities was flooded and has not been running for several days. That means that we are running at half-capacity. On top of this, our reserves are at around 50% capacity (though that has risen from 37% due to conservation efforts). And though the waters have receded from the treatment facility, repairs need to be made in order for it to be up and running again. There is no estimate on how long this will take. And until this facility is back up and running and our water reserves have been replenished, we are still in danger of having a water shortage.  In other words, many homes across Nashville will have NO running water unless we take steps now to cut back our usage.

To conserve water and to prevent a water shortage, city officials are asking all residents in Davidson and Williamson counties (and possible others) to restrict water usage to only essential use. In practical terms, that primarily means hand washing, cooking, and “navy showers” (turning on water briefly to wet the body, then leaving it off while soaping up). According to Metro Water, lawn watering, watering of plants, car washing, and similar uses are not essential and need to stop until the water shortages are resolved.

A hotline has been set up to report people who aren’t following the water conservation mandate – for example, people who are washing cars or businesses who haven’t shut off their irrigation systems. To report water waste, you can call 862-4600.

For more information and updates on the water shortage from Metro Water, go here.

For more information about the water shortage and the seriousness of it, go here.

And for things you can do to conserve water, here’s a great post from Cool People Care.

As for myself, I haven’t done dishes or laundry since the conservation mandate went into effect. I haven’t washed my hair since Monday. I’ve skipped showers. I’m drinking only bottled water, instead of using the water from the fridge, and I have shut off the automatic ice maker. Even still, I feel like there is more that I can do to help out because ensuring that people have access to water over the coming weeks is more important to me than the minor inconveniences that these conservation methods have caused.

I’m trying my best to do my part. Please, Nashville, I hope you do the same. This isn’t something we have to do forever, just for the next few days until our water supply is back to normal. And things are looking up.