Remembering the Nashville flood… and what I regret to this very day!

I can still remember it as clear as day, which is rather ironic because on this day, it was anything but clear. It rained. I don’t mean on and off rain… it rained all afternoon. And then it rained all day the next day. Nashville was experiencing what will be record-setting setting rainfall causing floods around middle Tennessee.

On day 1 of the rain, Saturday, I was doing a volunteer thing my church had put together. As I recall, we were at a school painting and cleaning and sweeping and all that fun stuff. I think I remember the weather being cloudy but not much rain on my way to the school. On the way home a few hours later the rain had already begun. So much that there were already police and firefighters at certain intersections making sure everyone could navigate the intersection because a nearby parking lot was beginning to flood. Here’s a quick video I recorded on my phone.

But it was at the school gymnasium where something crazy happened.

I so wish I had this one video but sometime around lunch we all took a break from the work inside the school. There were a few basketballs laying around so we started shooting, and some of us were trying half-court shots. Of course, most of our shots were unsuccessful.

Well, I’m not lying at all when I say this… I heaved up a half-court shot and it looked promising. As it descended, as if it were edited in a studio somewhere, just as the ball ripped through the basket the loudest clap of thunder boomed. The timing was perfect and everyone there was startled by what just happened.

It was pretty wild, and I know a video would be much more entertaining for you, but you’ll just have to cope however you can :/ I’ve been coping for 10 years. I still remember that moment as if it was yesterday. Such perfect timing and to make the shot, too, was magical 🙂

Nashville went on to get double digit rain totals (in inches) and the week following this rain I didn’t go to work at all because the basement of the downtown building where I worked flooded. It was a devastating week for a lot of folks, and now, 10 years later, the event is still remembered with somber thoughts……..

…….and regret for not asking someone to record my half-court shot!

Out of the Wilderness

Affect of Hurricane Harvey on Google maps “traffic”

Take a glance at Houston, Texas on Google maps (with “traffic” selected) and you’ll see how much Hurricane Harvey is still affecting the area, 5 days after making landfall. The news this morning showed the storm over the Beaumont area, so I included a Google map of that town, also. The red-dashed lines are indicating road closures, which, when you see these images, is pretty wild to see how widespread it is. So many roads and highways are flooded.

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Flood, Pain and Prayer

It was the summer of 2010 and Nashville just experienced a 500-year flood that devastated houses and families.

There were many opportunities to get involved with the clean-up effort; through churches, charity efforts, and even places of employment encouraging employees to help by lending a hand in the hardest hit areas. The building where I work lost power for the entire week after the flood so once I caught up on my own long overdue yard work, I volunteered in neighborhoods needing assistance. At one house, I helped pull up soaking wet carpet. At another I helped with a washer/dryer extraction. One task was simply sweeping water out of a kitchen into the backyard. Joining in with some other folks, I helped take torn up drywall out to a trash pile near the street. At this house, we had two wheelbarrows, one with a flat tire. Some may say it’s because I’m awesome, others may say it’s because I’m double awesome, but I used the one with the flat tire, without gloves and pushed it up hill in the snow. That makes me a triple threat guy. Ok, I had gloves. And there was no hill. Or snow.

The wheelbarrow rolled well enough until the flat tire hit a hole in the ground and immediately came to a halt. The problem was that I kept walking. My shin was pierced by a screw from the wheelbarrow. Yes it hurt. Yes it bled. A friend nearby had a first aid kit and was more than willing to attend to my new wound. Here’s how it went down before she applied ointment:

Me: Is this going to hurt?
Her: Yes.
[pause]
[pause]
Me: Ok, go.
[cuss word]

In the few seconds between anticipation of pain and actual pain, I was able to prepare for what would happen next. And if it pleases the court, I’d like to make clear there was no cuss word, that was a joke.

That experience has finally served as a good example of how to handle the storm I’m currently in the middle of. This little storm started and I didn’t have time to prepare, just like my leg and the wheelbarrow. But as the rain falls and the thunder rolls, I’ve made time to seek shelter. If nothing else good comes from this storm, I can at least treasure the shelter and perhaps remember that the Lord loves me enough to carry my burden when all I can imagine happening is me crumbling. There will be resolution to this storm, the suffering will pass. It says so in the Bible: “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” Either this statement is true, or none of the Bible is true. So I’m going to, again, take my chances that once the storm passes, it will still just be a storm. But me? I’ll be restored (which is enough) but then I’ll also be stronger, more firm, and more steadfast than ever before. That’s where I win and the storm loses. So when the next one comes, guess what my prayer will be?

Me: Is this going to hurt?
Lord: Yes.
[pause]
[pause]
Me: Ok, go.
[cuss word]
[just kidding]

The Nashville Flood, May 2010

If there never was a reason to love this city, there is now. What I’ve witnessed in the kindness of people here is not something I’ve seen before, and I’ve been through my share of tough storms (former resident of hurricane-prone Florida, including Hurricane Andrew). A quick recap- Saturday it started raining. Saturday afternoon it was still raining. Sunday rolled around and brought the same amount of sunshine Saturday had. More rain. It finally slowed down Sunday evening. And like a dog that comes inside after chewing up the garden hose, Monday came around with sunny skies acting like nothing never happened. Come on, Monday! Have some class. Historic flooding and you show up with sunny skies and calm wind? You’re a punk, Monday. Along with Saturday and Sunday, all three of you are real punks! With all the rain and wind and now gigantic loss. But I tell you what, the hearts of the people here are unforgettable to see. I’ve heard of areas turning down volunteers because there were too many! My first day to lend a hand was Wednesday. My friend Bill and I made our way to West Nashville and helped a family rid their house of all the appliances, waterlogged dressers, cabinets, clothing, pictures, bedding, and various other household goods. Bill and I were the second and third to arrive at this house, and before I knew it, there had to be about twenty people in the house with trashbags separating the salvagable from the loss, the jewelry, family pictures, sweeping water out of the kitchen, taking bag after bag out to the roadside. At one point, Bill and I were asked to walk two houses down the street to help move a refrigerator, washer, and dryer. There were four guys already there. I have no doubt three were former military because they were all talking loudly about what we should do, each absolutely confident their idea was the best. So we had three plans for each task, and the fourth guy, Orlando, must’ve bore the brunt of these three chiefs all morning long. I was glad Bill and I could step in and take some heat off Orlando. During one of these “brainstorming sessions,” I took the liberty of relieving myself in the backyard. I decided a few more ounces of liquid wasn’t going to do any more damage to this house. About thirty minutes and twenty-five ideas later, we got the appliances out the door and into the front yard. Back to the first house we went. Once it was completely empty we walked down the street to find that devastation was at every single house. Guess what else was at every single house? People. Folks are so caring around here, even people I don’t like were volunteering! You know the people I’m talking about, the ones that somehow steer the conversation back to themselves? I won’t get into specifics about this person, but when we’re there to empty out a family’s flooded house, I don’t necessarily need to know how sick you were a month ago, how far you drove to be here, how old you are, or how you can’t find the guy with the clipboard. But know this, reader, she was there. She was spending her day by helping people that needed help. And remember when I said Bill and I were the second and third to arrive at this house? Well, she was the first. That’s pretty awesome.

The easiest way to start making a difference is simply show up.

So if you’re now asking what the people in Nashville are like, wonder no more: they show up… in masses!