It started on Saturday. It was the first day of May, and it rained all day. Not only did it rain all day, it rained hard all day. By the time that night approached, we were watching images on television that none of us ever thought we'd see. We watched this video of a portable classroom float down an interstate-turned-river full of stranded cars. Our eyes were glued to the coverage on TV, fixed on the weather. The rain wasn't slowing down. There was more to come. This didn't look good.
Sunday, we woke up to more news. There were roads beginning to flood all over our city. Reporters urged us to "stay inside and don't leave your house unless it's absolutely necessary." So, that's what my little family did. We stayed inside and kept our eyes on the local news until our power went out around 10 that morning. Over the next 8 hours, Will and I played every game he owns, read books and put puzzles together. All the while, it continued to rain. Our friends who still had power called us throughout the day with updates and reports. The message was always the same, "This is bad. This is really bad." One friend called to tell us that they just watched their fence, kiddie pool and doghouse get washed down the creek (which was now more like a roaring river) behind their house. We couldn't fathom what was going on. We were still without power with no time line of restoration in sight. Finally around 6pm that night, we decided to drive to our friend's house (very close by), so that we could watch the news and use the internet. That's when we really started to realize the scale of this storm, and the damage that it would do. We watched as people were rescued and evacuated from their homes. We saw roads, homes and cars flooded beyond our belief. Never before had any of us witnessed anything like this. It was historic. It was heart breaking. It was scary.
The next morning, the sun came out, and all that was left was the devastation that the rain left behind. We could not reach our office. The roads leading to our business were flooded and police had the area barricaded off allowing no one entrance. We wouldn't be allowed to return to work for 4 days.
The street leading to our office
Our basement was filled with 3 feet of water, and the brand new hot water heater we had purchased a couple months prior was submerged somewhere beneath. I'm not going to go into how stressful and inconvenience it was for our basement to flood. I won't share all the details of pumping all the water out, discovering a broken pipe, buying another new hot water heater, and finally having hot water restored after 6 days of quick showers at friends' houses. It was a pain. It was a headache. But in the grand scheme of things, compared to what others in our city and community have lost, it's so insignificant, I feel ashamed for even mentioning it.
That day and in the days following, we watched television news reports that were airing without commercial interruption. I teared up as I saw images of the beautiful Opryland hotel, now a virtual swimming pool. It wasn't just that some of our most beloved landmarks were now under water, it was the memories I have tied to them that stung the most. This is where Rob and I had our first date.
The Grand Ole Opry took on water. The place where I sat in the audience and watched Willie and Waylon and many others legends, and got chills because, "Wow, I'm at the Opry having this moment."
This is the go-kart track that is among Will's favorite places in the world. Just last summer, I stood on the sideline waving to he and Rob as they sped around the track. Will smiling with the biggest grin I've ever seen, and me snapping away with my camera trying to capture the moment.
But the most gut wrenching images were these. People's homes destroyed. Families left with no where to live. You could drive around and look at their lives sitting on their front lawns. Their memories and treasures scattered around in the grass, wet and dejected. Most do not have flood insurance to cover the damages. We didn't know we needed it. Tennessee never floods, right?
So, we're rebuilding, and moving on, and pulling ourselves up by the bootstraps. We're helping our neighbors, we're donating our time, we're opening up our homes, and we're giving what we can. And when I say we, I mean, Nashville. Because that's just what we do here. I don't know what has been more incredible to witness, The Rain That Changed Our City or The People Of This City Who Cannot Be Changed By The Rain. I'm proud to be a part of it all. Proud to be a member of this community.
It is going to take time, work, money and lots more sweat and tears to get back to where we were. But we will do it. And we'll be the better for it.
My family and I have been blessed beyond belief. We still have our home. We still have our family and our friends and a job to go to every day. Some do not. And as saddened as I am by that reality, when I lay down next to my kids every night, and breathe in the sweet smell of their shampoo, I find my safe place, all is right with the world.
May you all find your safe place to land,
Opportunities to help:
Hands on Nashville
Middle TN Red Cross
Nashville Flood Relief
**Disclaimer** Many of the images above were not photographed by me. There was an incredible group on Facebook than banned together to share information and images with each other, and this is where I pulled those images. If you would like to see all of the photos, go here.