For anyone who still hasn’t heard (and I’m still amazed at the number of people who haven’t or who don’t know the whole story), Nashville flooded. Well, actually much of Tennessee was underwater. On May first, it rained. And rained. And it continued to rain for almost two entire days. Even after the rain stopped, the Cumberland River continued to rise, covering downtown Nashville inch by inch as the water crept forward.
By now, over a week later, even those living outside of Tennessee have seen the images of downtown Nashville, the Opry, Opryland Hotel and the Opryland Mall underwater. Lives were lost and homes were destroyed, but I am amazed daily at the number of Tennesseans who have been willing to help out their neighbors. I am also amazed at the humbleness – even to a fault – of those who truly were devastatingly affected by the flood. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone who lost their home or belongings in the flood decline help because there were others they felt needed it more.
On Friday, I had the opportunity to push up my sleeves and join in the volunteer flood relief effort. It was there that I met Roger, one of the many whose lives have been changed forever from the May flood. Although the budding photographer in me wanted to ask him for a picture, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. He was letting us into a vulnerable part of his life, and I just couldn’t.
As we went through his home, I could see his shoulders fall a little more each time we asked what he wanted to salvage and what needed to be thrown away. Photos, furniture, electronics, his beloved collectibles – the flood had shown no consideration for what it destroyed. The sadness in his eyes as he held back the tears made me wonder if I would have the same strength if this was my home. It’s amazing what only one foot of water will do.
Even more heart-wrenching is the fact that Roger is not alone. Nearly everything that makes up these people’s lives will be discarded on the side of the road and they’ll have to start from scratch.
I watched the movie “Leap Year” last night with a few girlfriends. During the movie, Amy Adam’s character was asked what she would save from her home if her house was on fire and she had 60 seconds to grab what she could. In a flood, you may have more time, but the question is still the same. What would I grab? Provided that the husband and kitties were already safe, aside from the stacks and albums of photos I have, in order to preserve the memories they hold, I really can’t think of anything else I would truly need. Sure, I have a lot that I would want. By most standards, our lives have been incredibly blessed. But when it comes right down to it, it’s all just stuff. I feel an undeniable need to purge my life of “stuff”. I’ll let you know how it goes…