Hello from a rain soaked, waterlogged and devastated, but optimistic Nashville, Tennessee. For those of you who haven't heard, west and middle Tennessee and several other parts of the southeast were soaked by torrential rains this past Saturday and Sunday with some areas receiving upwards of 20 inches of rain in 36 hours. Nashville proper "officially" received 13 1/2 inches of rain according to the National Weather Service, but many areas of town would argue that they received more--and they'd probably be right. At my house in Primm Springs, Tennessee, which is about 30 miles west of Nashville, I dumped 15 1/2 inches of rain out of my rain gauge. However, there were several times over the course of two days when the wind was blowing so hard that it was raining sideways and the rain was probably being blown right across the opening of the rain gauge without going in. My guess is that I actually had in the neighborhood of 18 inches of total rainfall. Thankfully, I live on top of a hill. Our damage was mostly cosmetic and while it's inconvenient, it certainly isn't life altering.
Tens of thousands of people in the city of Nashville and several surrounding communities have lost everything they've ever owned. Many will have a hard time recovering. Lives have been lost across the state. In addition to the many homes and lives affected, many of Nashville's most famous attractions are devastated or destroyed. The Opryland Hotel had 15 feet or more of water throughout the hotel and the Opry House had water above the level of the stage. Next door, the Opry Mills Mall has at least 6-8 feet of water inside and a friend who works at one of the stores there says they will not even be allowed in to assess damage until Friday, at the earliest. Musicians were also hit hard by this event, as one of the primary warehouses where many musicians store their instruments when they are not on the road was completely devastated by the flood waters.
Our stunning Schermerhorn Symphony Center--built just within the past 5 years and arguably one of the finest modern symphony halls in the world--had 25 feet of water in the lower level. The damage there has yet to be assessed. The same goes for the Country Music Hall of Fame, which had five to six feet of water in its theater and whose vaults, which hold the entire history of country music, were in the lower levels. I haven't heard any official word on losses there. Businesses throughout the downtown district were flooded and our LP Field, the home of the Tennessee Titans football team, looked like a giant swimming pool from the air, with water filling the field up to the first level of stadium seating.
Gratefully, there has been very little (almost none) looting or other types of theft, etc. People are, for the most part, calm, cool, collected, respectful and marching forward--cleaning up and figuring out what to do next. Neighbors helping neighbors, friends helping friends and strangers pitching in to help people they've never met. Keep the citizens of Nashville and it surrounding communities, as well as those in west and southwest Tennessee and northern and eastern Mississippi in your thoughts as we begin to recover from this record-setting flood that experts are now calling a "once in a thousand year" event. Next week we'll be back to gardening.
If you'd like to see some stunning images of what we've been through in the past few days, click here http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2010/05/flooding_in_tennessee.html
See you soon!