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Reflections on the Flood

May 12, 2010

As you know, last week Nashville was hit with the most rain fall any of us have ever seen. According to news reports Franklin, where our office is located and most of us live, was hit with 17″ of rain in about 36 hours. Nashville received nearly 13″ in the same time.

The results were devastating. Rivers running wild over their banks. Houses disappearing into the overflow. Measuring the rain fall by watching cars submerge into the rising waters. Watching the news we saw the Cumberland River crest to the highest levels in most of our lifetimes, overtaking First Avenue. There were cars on the 24 freeway disappearing into the lake that was being created. One of the craziest sites was watching a portable building from a church in Antioch float down a lane of the 24 and crash into a semi truck.

Not one of us was unaffected. Some with scarce damage. Others with basements filled with water. Overall our company was OK. It came close but we were untouched.

Here is are a couple of photos that John took. This is 50′ from our office:

This is a few streets away:

I know that we are all incredibly grateful for being protected. I think Jeff Berry said it best:

My initial reaction to the flood somewhat was guilt…….why was my family spared? Its amazing to see so much devastation – and to see it reach beyond all socio-economic barriers. And yet, my family received no damage, no power outages, no issues whatsoever. So ultimately we were just so fortunate – and realize how blessed we are.

But not everyone was protected. Jennifer Allen had the worst of it from our label:

During what is now being called The Flood of 2010, I woke up to find about 4 inches of water in my basement. At first I didn’t think much of it as my basement is prone to take on a “little” water when it rains, however, 4 inches is definitely more than usual and within 2 hours it was already up to knee’s depth. I was able to get most everything out of the basement while wading through the water to do so, but was concerned the water would raise higher. Thankfully it didn’t get to levels where I thought I’d have to evacuate my home. I also had water coming in through the roof in one section of the house, but again thankfully it wasn’t bad enough to cave in the ceiling.

Earlier the next morning around 4:30am I heard a loud buzzing noise and a bang. Entering the basement with a flashlight I realized that the water heater had blown. I couldn’t get to the fuse box because it was across the room in the basement, which was still flooded (it was up off the ground at eye level and not near the water). When the waters receded and workman were able to take a look at the water heater, not only had the cover blown completely off the water heater, but the workman told me that he had never seen a water heater do what mine did…and I was lucky it didn’t blow up. I am completely thanking God and the angles who were watching over me in a circumstance that I now realize had the potential to be disastrous.

Conor Farley lost a trampoline from his backyard but was thankful that it was not worse:

Below is a pic from my backyard.  The water is usually 30 yards beyond the tree line.   This weekend we went through the front side of our neighborhood that got hammered and tore out drywall and insulation etc.  We noticed that in the Condo section of our subdivision it was super dangerous because even if one place was not hit and their neighbors was-then the mold could spread since most condos share walls.  Anyways it has been nuts.

Caren was scheduled to fly in on Monday. She saw the devastation from overhead:
I flew into Nashville Monday evening and the view from the plane brought tears to my eyes. There were areas where I could only see the roof of a building. There was a Kohls store where the water that surrounded the building was halfway up the sides. I saw a bridge that was submerged.  The sheer vast amount of brown muddy water in areas was surreal. In my mind I knew that the toll all those sites have taken on peoples lives would be life changing. On the other hand I was amazed by the lack of looting and the stories I heard about strangers helping strangers in need. The people of Nashville and the surrounding areas have set an example for the rest of the world. I am honored to be working with such individuals.

Rebekah Markowitz had a different experience:
I was blessed to have nothing damaged by the flood, however, a lot of my friends weren’t so fortunate.

For me, there was no question. I was an able body, I didn’t have to worry about my property, so I went to help out those who needed it. I went with my church and drove around neighborhoods we knew had gotten hit hard to help complete strangers. We moved furniture; tore up flooring, carpets, floor boards; wiped layers of mud off of other people’s possessions; took food and water where we could; and cleaned houses.

What stood out to me was not the destruction, it was the fact that the people of this city pulled together to help strangers. They had no agenda but to serve where they were needed. The Red Cross said that we need much less help than they had estimated solely because of the massive amount of people volunteering. A 10 year employee of FEMA said he has never seen another community come together to help each other, including Katrina.

I think that speaks miles about the residents of Nashville. We don’t wait for help to come to us, we go and help our neighbors. It was truly eye-opening and humbling for me to see that kind of love and serving all around me.

As we look at the impact around us – 3,000 people laid off from the Opryland Hotel, businesses and homes destroyed – I think Lanae Hale says what we all feel:
I am heart-broken for the people who have been affected by the floods. A lot of people have lost so much!  In this economy it’s very overwhelming to think about having to replace damaged furniture, food, appliances, flooring, windows, and sometimes even entire floors of the home.
Flood insurance helps, if you have it, but even still, it’s a very emotional process to see your home and your things lie in ruins.

I was moved to help in any way I could.  My husband I don’t have much to give but God has truly blessed us.  I think God gives everyone specific gifts, and it’s an incredible honor to have the opportunity to serve his people with them.  There is a place in Nashville called Tent City, where the homeless have formed a community together.  They own very little to nothing and unfortunately they would probably be deemed the outcasts of our society.  They do however, have their tents
and their companions who share commonality in their plight.  As you can imagine, after the terrible flooding of the Cumberland River in Nashville, these people lost the little they had to the hungry waters.

I couldn’t fathom, having the very little that I had earned in life, ripped from my hands in a matter of minutes.  There was a kind church who brought this community of people into their building to provide shelter.  Many people became aware of their needs and were asked to donate anything that they could to help them out.  Well, we didn’t own a tent, but I could cook! They needed meals, so my friend and I put a meal together for them!
My church has also been reaching out to the community, so I was able to join up with a relief team.  Most of the homes in the neighborhood we were in, had all been flooded out.  While I wasn’t strong enough to pull damaged wood flooring up, I could give a hug to an exhausted and heartbroken home owner.  We stood in the kitchen together and talked and tried to save picture negatives.  Sometimes, people just need someone there to listen and hurt with them.

You never think something like this will happen in your own back yard, but it sure hits you hard when you are standing in a kitchen with a devastated home owner trying to save her pictures… the things that matter… memories. It has been a very difficult time for our area, but the beauty in all of it, is that love is being poured out.  It truly is the very least we could do for those in serious need, but I think this is what Jesus was talking about. Responding to the needs of complete strangers and providing for them through loss, heartbreak, hunger, and devastation.

I think this is what love is supposed to look like.

One Comment leave one →
  1. zanderandjanine permalink
    May 12, 2010 9:04 AM

    Thanks for posting this, guys. We live in Nashville too. It’ll be a long rebuilding process for many, and flood insurance wasn’t purchased by the vast majority of those affected. Let’s keep a watchful eye on how we can still support those hurting in the upcoming months to come…

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