Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Bailing Out

The devastation is indescribable. Flood waters rose to above five feet in most places around Nashville. And now debris is piled as high as six to seven feet at curbside.

When I went to work at a friend's condo in River Plantation (in Bellevue) last week, I was shocked by what I saw. Pictures that were hung above the water line began to fall off the walls because the water moved it's way up toward the ceiling. Dead frogs were found on shelves the china cabinet. Accessories and pictures that had been positioned on end tables and bedside tables were now on the floor, sitting in water. The refrigerator was tipped toward the wall at an angle. Wood furniture began to warp, requiring a crowbar to open drawers and doors. Upholstered pieces were now drenched with dirty flood waters. Carpet and rugs were mud-laden, and soaked with water. Mattresses were so filled with water that it took four large men to move each one.

Twenty people went to help my friend. Soaked down to our skin, we kept on working, thinking that the work would never end. Garbage bags filled with wet linens and clothing were stacked in two corners of the patio. One was dry clean; the other was launder. Sorting through clothing, pictures, accessories became a major job. Moving is considered a big stressor on people, but this was 100 times worse. The loss that my friend has felt has been overwhelming.

Last Sunday my parents were in town, so we drove through River Plantation, the Opryland area, Pennington Bend, downtown Nashville, and parts of Franklin so they could see what had happened. My dad, 83 years old, remarked he'd "never seen anything like this." Having served in World War II, he'd seen devastation in Germany before, but nothing like this. My mother commented that, "this is indescribable." And she's right.

Thank goodness for volunteers. Without volunteers, so many people would never be able to bounce back. Sunday, we saw hundreds of volunteers helping homeowners clean out their homes, bringing load after load of wet drywall, carpet and other items out to the curb. ServPro trucks were everywhere, and from everywhere. Area codes such as 412 were painted on the sides of ServPro trucks. Waste management companies were working overtime to remove the debris from the curbs.

While it took a few days for us to make national headlines, it turned out to be a great thing. Our volunteer efforts and true unselfishness has been shown to the world. We're a relentless and strong community. We care about each other. And we also persevere. Nothing can come between a Nashville resident and his neighbor, especially a flood.

Have you taken the opportunity to help a fellow Middle Tennessean yet? Maybe your neighbor didn't suffer flood damage, but may need help with something else. Maybe it's time to volunteer to help a friend in need. Are you that person? Maybe it's time ....

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