Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Flooding Home

It's always heartbreaking to see pictures of devastation from natural disasters and to try to grasp what people who survive are going through, but nothing, not even Hurricanes Hugo, Fran or Floyd, have hit home as much as the flooding in my hometown of Nashville. Watching the Cumberland and its tributaries rise on the Weather Channel last weekend and keeping up with the news via the Nashville Tennessean website throughout the week has been horribly sad, despite having not lived there for 38 years. You only ever have one hometown and mine is really East Nashville, within the bend of the Cumberland that stretches from LP Field (home of the Titans, which turned into a giant swimming pool last weekend and stands on ground where my father was born), down past Shelby Park and up to the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and the Grand Old Opry, all of which was under 10 feet or more of river and may not reopen until the late fall.

I grew up within walking distance of Stratford High School, for those that know the area - a mile from little Cornelia Fort Airpark down on the river, which may never reopen now after this latest flood. We could stand in the front yard on a summer Saturday afternoon and watch the skydivers coming down almost overhead. For people that don't know the area as well, I tell them that I grew up in Shelby Park, which feels pretty true as much time as we spent there. It's flooded of course, but it flooded every couple of years - at least the ballfields did.

The old warehouse district on Second Avenue that they finally managed to turn into an entertainment district along with South Broadway was all underwater. The Ryman Auditorium was built on a rise that kept it dry, but the Grand Old Opry stage at the Opryland Hotel was underwater. While the Country Music Hall of Fame escaped relatively unscathed, the collection that was to be the Musicians Hall of Fame was stored at Soundcheck Nashville and largely destroyed, along with a huge number of instruments stored there for bands that were not currently on tour or recording.

As sad as all of that is, of course the most heartbreaking are the thousands of people that have lost their homes and their belongings and in many cases their personal histories. Some of that can never be repaired, but I'll be sending money to local relief funds and urge you to do the same.

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