Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Flooding in Franklin

Rain on Friday, April 30 was no surprise. Weather forecasters predicted it would come and the sky was evidence of the inevitable. A typical spring shower watered plants and lawns of grass, and then let up a little.

Little did I know that when I took my car to be serviced at noon on May 1 that I would drive home in lakes that had formed on Highway 96 in Franklin. While waiting for my car, I watched rain grow stronger and stronger during that 90 minutes of talking on the phone, checking email and trying ot watch the satellite TV in the customer waiting area.

I had already committed to going to hear a band with friends at 3rd and Lindsley that night, but at 3 p.m., I cancelled that daredevil decision. No way was I trading my 2nd floor condo for a trek in the downpour to hear any group.

Around dinner time, I spotted the creek behind our building as the once calm flow of water was now a roaring, rushing river, with an increased height of at least 15 inches. No worries, though, as weather predictions did not include a flood.

Weather forecasters finally admitted we were getting more than we bargained for. Franklin was the first area to be mentioned in a list of damaged locations. Flooding had been evident that afternoon on Highway 96 as I spotted 10-foot lakes in front yards along that road. Even the park next to the Harpeth was flooded up to the entrance. Franklin's Mayor had issued a 6 pm to 6 am curfew for the safety of it's residents.

By late Saturday night, the rains were coming down pretty hard and it was inevitable that Nashville and other parts of Middle Tennessee were going to experience a new kind of disaster.

After staying up late and watching the three major networks turn their broadcasts over to the latest in weather, I finally went to bed. Church hadn't been cancelled yet, so maybe it wasn't really that bad. Things changed at 7:35 the next morning as I heard a voice mail telling me that all church activities had been cancelled that day. The rain kept coming down in sheets so thick it was almost impossible to see anything. The darkness reigned over the entire area, and at 8:30 am, it looked as if it were midnight.

The rain eventually let up long enough Sunday around 11 a.m. for me to run out and get some gas. Surely I'd have enough time to get gas, a few movies from Red Box, and then get back home. I was wrong. While at the Kroger on Columbia Pike, all heavens broke loose. Getting gas wasn't a problem, but even while using an umbrella to run across a flooded parking lot to the Red Box, I was almost soaked. Standing in line behind five other people proved to be an impatient wait as the rain came down harder and faster. Will this EVER let up at all?

After retrieving three flicks, I ran back across the lot. It was a little better now, and I thought I'd take a quick drive around my area of Franklin. Little did I know that I would see streets turned into lakes. Fair Street was now a swimming pool at the dip just past 9th Avenue. 5th Avenue/Hillsboro Road was now an ocean of water as Sonic and Alexander Used Cars were both submerged under the water. I'd seen enough. Home I wanted to go.

Later that afternoon, the rain finally did break for a while and the sun started to shine. I decided to take a tour of the area to see how bad things were. Apparently a few other folks had the same idea.

Out of the four main ways to get out of Franklin, three were completely shut down. Third Avenue (which turns into Highway 96) was blocked. Just a few hundred feet from town was the bridge that crossed a western branch of the Harpeth River. No vehicles were going to get through there as police had taped it off and were blocking all traffic.

Main Street (which turns into Franklin Road going toward Brentwood) was just as bad. The Harpeth is crossed there, too, and police had blocked it off. Just west of there is First Avenue, which had turned into a lake. Only the street sign was visible.

Down the road were 3rd and 4th Avenues, which ran into North Margin Street. Just past North Margin the water had covered graveyards and parking lots. Nowhere was there any way to drive or even walk down those streets.

Just south of 3rd and 4th is 5th Avenue (which turns into Hillsboro Road). As a second visit to this street, I saw even more water this time, and I knew that plenty of damage had been done. Driving on Highway 96 West (toward Bellevue), front yards were flooded to capacity. Owners had parked their vehicles next to the road so they could eventually get out. I just hope they had a rowboat, kayak or canoe to get to their cars.

In almost a half century of living, I've never seen anything like this. Over the last few days, we've heard reports that so far, there is over $1.5 BILLION in damage. Who knows what the final total will be?

My heart goes out to those who have lost so much. This is one of those times I wish I had lots to give to people. It's devastating, heartbreaking and sad. My prayers continue to be with the over thousands of people who are currently homeless. Only God can take care of us.

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