After the flood: moving forward

Flood relief efforts are continuing here in Nashville.

Country stars and Nashvillians Tim McGraw and Faith Hill announced today that they’re organizing a huge relief concert down at the Bridgestone Arena in June. Teams of volunteers head out with gloves, hammers and crowbars every morning and disperse all over the city. Creative types are selling t-shirts (like the now-iconic We Are Nashville shirt for sale at coolpeoplecare.org) and bumper stickers and posters, with the proceeds going to disaster relief. CNN and its bretheren are now including regular updates on flood recovery efforts (I wonder if they’re feeling a little bit guilty? Maybe feeling a little stung by all the criticism that people like me flung at them for ignoring our plight for a little too long? Doesn’t matter. We need all the attention we can get, if it helps further the relief efforts, is how I see it.).

Recent snapshots from my narrow little view of the flood:

I drove through River Plantation, one of the flooded neighborhoods here in Bellevue when they finally opened Sawyer Brown Road to through traffic. My friend John lives over there, although somehow his townhouse miraculously escaped flooding. Most of his neighbors, however, weren’t so lucky. Piled high along the sides of the street were mounds and mounds of waterlogged furniture, soggy insulation, wood paneling, water-soaked carpet and flooring. Everything was tinged with a sickly murky brown. People continued to drag things out of open doorways, leaving empty husks of houses. Nearby, volunteers staffed relief tents with food and water.

I felt almost guilty when I returned home to my subdivision. We didn’t get flooded out here, and everything looks just the same as it always did. Green lawns. Garage sale signs on the corners. Flowering bushes lining the sidewalks in front of the homes–homes that are still filled with sofas, books, clothing, washing machines and televisions. We didn’t get spared because we did anything right. We were just lucky. I felt extremely humbled.

So I dragged the boys out in the rain today to the grocery store, and we loaded up some fresh fruit to drop off at a local donation site for relief workers. My son’s preschool sent home an urgent plea for food donations for a group called Mobile Loaves and Fishes that is feeding the volunteers and workers who are, among other things, trying to restore water service (and are working ’round the clock to do so). As my body recovers from the c-section, I might not be able to rip out dry wall, haul heavy furniture or pump fetid water out of buildings, but by George, I can provide food for the people who can.

They announced in the services yesterday morning that my church, Westminster Presbyterian, is going to be the center of the disaster relief effort operated by the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance folks from the PC(USA). So church workers and members are gearing up to host teams of volunteers from all over the region who are coming to help with the recovery efforts. I’m looking forward to being able to help host those people who are so generously putting their own lives on hold to come here to help Nashvillians.

As for our friends who were flooded out of their homes, they are moving on with their lives. They’re all saying how grateful they are for the help of friends and volunteers who have helped them out. I wish that they’d never needed the help to begin with, but it’s a blessing that so many people are offering up their support. I hope that their own recoveries proceed quickly and without any (additional) complications. Many of them had flood insurance, and they’ve gotten the ripping-out/tearing-out/packing-up/moving out process already taken care of. Although, still…sigh. Again, I feel terrible for them, and I just feel so darned helpless when it comes to really helping them. These are people whom I personally know and care about, and I just wish that I could do something really significant. Instead, I’m just offering to bring dinner or take someone out to lunch. It just feels like nothing, and I hate that. Worse, I feel like my drop-offs of food and water for the relief efforts for the people I don’t know are inadequate, too.

That’s part of the reason I want to really get involved with helping the PDA when those people get here. I need to do more. This is my community. All over the area, people are pitching in. And that’s inspiring other people to pitch in, too. It’s what people are really noticing about this community, and it’s what we do best: help people out. Anderson Cooper noticed it, and now others are noticing, too. It makes me proud of Nashville, prouder than I already was.

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About jenniferlarsonwrites

I'm a freelance writer and editor based in Nashville, Tennessee. I have a master's degree in journalism from the University of Maryland and a bachelor's degree in English from Rhodes College. I'm a born-and-bred Southerner who spent a few years in Southern California, a rabid baseball fan and a would-be grower of tomatoes. You can also visit me at LinkedIn or on Twitter at @JenniferLarson.
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One Response to After the flood: moving forward

  1. Diane says:

    Food and water are necessities. Please not think this is an inadequate way to help! I know that the families and volunteers are very grateful. On Friday, I was thrilled to get a bottle of water from volunteers while working in River Plantation. Also, a colleague and I took food to a friend’s home and she was relieved of thinking about going to the grocery and cooking for supper. This is a big help when a person has so much else to do!

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