Okay, I’m slightly mollified.
Last night, Anderson Cooper from CNN reported from my suburb of Bellevue on his show AC360. And he apologized for not being here sooner and for not giving the Nashville flood situation the attention that it deserved earlier. Thanks, Anderson. I know that I appreciate the mea culpa for the lack of timely coverage, and I thought you did a great job with your show, highlighting all the good work that people are doing to help each other recover from the devastation.
Things are looking better here in Middle Tennessee. At 40 feet, the Cumberland River finally seems to be back down below flood level. Water conservation measures are still in effect, but at least the water situation doesn’t look as dire as it did a couple of days ago.
But still. Twenty-seven counties in Tennessee are officially federal disaster areas. And Nashville Mayor Karl Dean is saying that the cost of the flood damage in property damage alone is $1.5 billion. At least. At least. (I have a hard time thinking of that much money; it’s almost so much that it’s abstract.) More than 30 deaths have been recorded. People’s lives have been irrevocably changed.
Every day, my church (Westminster Presbyterian) sends out a “volunteers needed” email to its members, updating us on the needs of some of the members whose houses were flooded. Usually, when my church asks for donations or volunteers, it’s along the lines of canned food or people to help out on the Wednesday nights that our church opens its doors to the homeless. Right now, however, my inbox is filled with pleas for people to bring sledgehammers, wheelbarrows, shovels and a good strong back. Some church members are organizing meals, while others are taking care of the children of the people who lost their homes. But many more church members are literally tearing down walls under the hot sun because they want to help. And you know what? All over the city, hundreds, if not thousands, of other people are doing the same thing. And you know what else? In many cases, volunteers are just showing up unannounced to work at the ravaged homes of people they don’t even know. You know that blog post that’s been going around, the We Are Nashville post that has gone viral all over the Internet? The writer is right. Nashvillians really are helping each other out in ways that you couldn’t even imagine if you weren’t seeing it actually happen.
So I’m glad that people elsewhere are finally getting the chance to pay attention. I wish it had happened sooner. I mean, even Newsweek blogged about how the media all but ignored the flood in Nashville for too long. But at least it’s happening now.