Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The day after the flood here in TN, I wrote a little thing about it, intending to post it with some pictures. My camera won't download onto my computer (I can't believe I just confessed that...), so no viewings for the public. Sorry.
I thought I would post this just to get it out of my draft box. So here it is. I never finished it, so I apologize for the weird and abrupt ending.
Also, what was originally a photography blog has turned into a Hannah's-thoughts-mingled-with-caffeine journal. As that was not my original intention when starting this, I am going to begin keeping the narratives to a minimum. Sometimes I look back and wonder how late it was and how much sugar/caffeine I was on when I wrote some of those goofy posts. But since I know all of my readers (I think), I'm sure you all understand my little oddities here and there and will perhaps forgive me for moments of unwanted silliness, although I will be from here on reigning in some of my happy-high blurtings. And if blurtings wasn't a word before this post, now it is.

~Your's Truly

I just experienced my first natural disaster.
As all of you probably know, Tennessee flooded drastically on May 1st. Houses were destroyed. Cars were ruined. Many of our friends are now homeless. Barns, schoolhouses, buggies, homes. cars, animals, and people floated away. The water went completely over the C. Creek concrete bridge, which is normally approx. 10-12 ft. above creek level. Not to mention the entire city of Nashville is underwater, which is about 70 miles from us. The major interstates and all the roads are shut down, all downtown business' destroyed, the Grand Ole Opry 6 ft. deep in water, the immaculate, 1300 room Opry Mills Hotel destroyed, the mall 5 ft. deep in water, the enourmous Titans stadium waterlogged ... everything is destroyed (and those measurements are post-flood). There were helicopter rescues off the tops of houses, people stranded on top off their cars on Interstate 40, some dying within their vehicles, missing families, many deaths... as of right now, Music City, population of 600,000 is absolutely inacsessible and completely shut down. You can not get in.
During the flood a tornado touched down in several places, including our little Highway.
Yesterday we and our friends (in our *very* small community) went around to our neighbor's homes and took was left out of their flooded abodes to see what could be salvaged. Most of their belongings are somewhere in the state of Tennessee, lost and never to be recovered. We gutted one of their homes down to the bones. The piano was split apart, windows blown through, toilets everywhere in broken pieces, generational southern family heirlooms swept away, keepsakes and photo albums waterlogged (if they happened to still be there)... just about all of their belongings had to be thrown out the blown-through windows and disposed of. Within the week some of our friends houses will have to be bulldozed. The caves filled up and exploded with water. Our infamous red C. Creek church house ( built on 9 ft. stilts) will also have to be rebuilt. Ever since the beginning of spring, we watched our Amish neighbors work from dawn till dusk with horse and plow in the gardens, which were just beginning to grow lushly. The fruit of their hands (literally) is their livliehood, and now it has all been flushed away.
Our neighbor (him and his wife around 60 years) down the road (about 5 miles) lives in an elevated mobile home. The water began to rise within his house. The flood was rushing through his property and whipping the sides of his home; he began to grow worried the building could not withstand the pressure and would collapse with them inside. He told his wife they needed to leave... now. She was worried she was not strong enough to withstand the current. She begged and pleaded with him not to make her go. But he knew what was best... if they stayed in the house, it would flood or break. He assured her that he would protect her and hold on to her; that he was strong enough to take care of her when the stepped out their front door and into the flood waters. They had only 20 ft. to go before they reached an elevated spot where the water had not yet reached. He was panicking: he forced her to go. Not two minutes after he brought her outside, the current's strength pulled her away from his struggling grasp... he watched as she floated away, dead, and he was powerless.
Our family and some of our friends have been been blessed to live a mile or so away from Cane Creek, and thus not suffer nearly as much damage as those who surround it. Our driveway and much of our property was a wild, rushing, current-pulled river, digging 6 ft. caverns into the ground, that will collapse when pressurized (as in walked upon), exposing culverts, making waterways where there was never meant to be water, and littering our property with dishwashers, tires, clothing, and other debri from who-knows-where. We could not drive out of our property (aka the 6ft. ditches) for a few days before our wonderful neighbors brought their tractor and filled part of it in (thank you!). The electricity, phone lines, internet, and plumbing has been out for everyone until this evening. We had interesting times walking around the house at night with head lamps and two candles to light our way, cooking over coals outside, and taking baths in the ever-decreasing spring on our property (AFTER the flood, when the sun shone and the water went down about 8 feet...). It was quite the adventure. I actual enjoyed the camping out thing, and I'm a little bummed that the power is on. Half of the city of Nashville was power-less. Scary. The roadwork alone in TN is expected to cost no less than 1 billion dollars. Ouch.
Our entire community is off work as it is... step out onto the road, and you'll see trucks with bed-fulls of people slowly going past, four-wheelers, tractors, wagons, horses... everyone has pulled together and done their best to clear the endless debri along the side of the roads, gut the broken homes, restore belongings as much as possible, help neighbors find places to sleep and food to eat, locate decent water to drink, and last but certainly not least, restore the volleyball court ASAP (which I find pretty funny).
Having been a native and die-hard Californian, and always sympathizing but never understanding the natural disasters in the South (or even all over the world), living here and experiencing a small part of it I believe has opened mine and my family's eyes to how insensitive many of us can be to the intense, horrific sufferings of other's who have gone through difficulties as this (hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes...). CA and much of the West is comfortable, luxurious, and the land of good and plenty, for the most part. A natural disaster, save the 2009 fires and many intense earthquakes, is very rare in that beautiful state. I would encouraged those who have treated it lightly to stop and think of the magnitude this has had on hundreds of thousands of people.
Things that once did not matter, we are now thankful for. Phone? Plumbing? Clean water to drink? Food? A HOME???!!! We are so blessed to have (what we consider) miniscule conveniences in our lives. Who would have thought it was all be swept away in a matter of 48 hours and who knows how many feet of rain.

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