Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Repost from last year's flood: I Will Never Be the Same

In the midst of the natural disasters we have had over the last few weeks, and it being the year anniversary of the May 2010 flood in the Nashville Area, I thought it appropriate to repost this blog update from last year. Because of our own disaster 12 months ago, we can bring comfort and help to those affected with experienced compassion.  Know that I am praying for all that have been affected by the tornados and floods that are occuring even as we speak. I am praying for the relief workers that are currently aiding those affected as well. It will take many months to have some sort of normalcy. In fact, even now families are rebuilding from last year. But take heart, there is hope midst the storm. God be with you all!

It’s been two weeks, since this all started and I still don’t know where to begin. I lived by the Ohio River for most of my life, so flooding is not a new concept. The Rivers and creeks swell every year on spring’s normal progression to summer, leaving behind muddy water, debris, and occasional seeping into basements and homes. A few times the creeks and river crested way above flood stage. My best friend’s neighborhood was engulfed by Panther Creek in 1997. But the damage then was nothing like what we witnessed two weekends ago in the Cumberland River Valley. It was so widespread, and for a few scary hours, we weren’t sure anything was safe.
Even now the scenes creep back into my memory of the events unfolding on May 1st. The portable classroom from Lighthouse Christian Academy floating down I-24, the cars on that same portion of interstate overtaken by water, faster than some could escape from, pictures of people being rescued in the swollen creeks and rivers, on streets that looked like rivers, still race through my head. Sometimes it takes all I have not to cry. Still.

On Sunday morning, it was still raining. You couldn’t get to church even if you wanted to. A tornado went through the Rivergate area. Telephone poles, signs, and buildings, roofs, and houses were damaged. No one knows that happened, well except for those that were affected. No one is talking about it. Monday, the sun came out and for a moment you could breathe. But then the waters kept rising. When we got to the office in the Madison Community (north of Nashville), the neighborhood across the street was under water. When I say under water, I mean to the roof tops.

We weren’t really sure what Area Command had organized but knew it might take a day or two to get canteens mobilized. We just started feeding out of the van. I don’t know how people could even eat. Just thinking about all they had lost made my stomach turn. On Tuesday, it wasn’t any better. Mansker Creek had risen over the main highway into Nashville from our house. It took us three hours to get to the corps! I was so heartbroken that we couldn’t get back to help the neighborhood. That is when it hit me, it was OUR neighborhood.

The water started receding on Wednesday enough for everyone to start coming to their homes. Overwhelmed with the mess and the work that lay before them, they started coming in. Cleaning Supplies, soap, food, clothes, prayers, whatever they needed…they could find here…or from the canteen. The stories will be upon my memory forever: Guilt for not checking on neighbors they later learned had drowned; pets left on their own because there was no room on the boat, people thinking they could make it across the bridge in the vehicle only to be carried away seconds later down stream, clothes made out of garbage bags because there was nothing left.

Midst the destruction, there was one constant hope. I never had to call anyone to help out at the corps. Our corps people were here everyday taking donations, feeding the neighborhood, praying with people. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life…of course I haven’t been in a place that was hit so directly with a disaster, natural or otherwise. It wasn’t just the corps…you could see it all over the Nashville Area. Volunteers daily coming in droves to help people they don’t even know.

I am still overwhelmed today with love for my community, and love for my corps people. I am so sad that this has happened to us, but so overjoyed for the bond that I now share with this corps. There was a blog written days after the flood by Patten Fuqua ( section303). Normally, a hockey analyst he took a moment to reflect on our recent disaster. He commented on the fact that there were not many stories of looting or crime; the fact that so many people came to help rescue strangers from their homes. And at the end of it he said, “And yet…life will go on. We’ll go back to work, to school, to our lives…and we’ll carry on. In a little over a month, I’ll be on this website talking about the draft. In October, we’ll be discussing the new Predators’ season with nary a thought of these past few days. But in a way, they changed everyone in this town. We now know that that it can happen to us…but also know that we can handle it.
Because we are Nashville.”
In many ways, our corps will never be the same either. We seem tighter, woven together with a common purpose. I am so blessed to be a part of this community, the Madison community, and I thank God for placing us here. I too believe that I will never be the same. These events have changed me in a way that I could never put into words. And I am okay with that…because I too am Nashville and Nashville will forever be a part of me.

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