The Volunteer State !

>> Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The waters have receded here in Nashville, and now it's time for the clean-up and recovery. The scope of this disaster is humbling. Middle Tennessee put out the call for help, and we answered. I am in awe of the response to the call for volunteers. Our state is known as "The Volunteer State" and in the last few weeks we have lived up to that name. I am not a native Tennessean, but after 20 years here, I call it home. It is a home that I am proud of.

I thought that I would give you a little sense of what volunteering in flood relief is like. I have learned two major things. Disaster relief is a "hurry up and wait" process and involves a whole lot of decisions on the fly. The flood occurred on May 1st - 3rd. I started volunteering on Friday, May 7th. My first task was to answer phones for the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. We were taking donations for the relief effort. The next day (Saturday), I volunteered with the American Red Cross. Wow, did I learn a lot from them. That organization had an entire military-type operation up and running in just a few days. The speed of their response was amazing, as was their adaptability. They were organized and ready to adapt to what ever need the community had. I spent my time loading cases of water on to a truck for flood victims. The next day (Sunday) the Red Cross sent me out to the adjacent county on a truck filled with relief supplies. It was a wonderful feeling to know that my small efforts might be helping a family in need.

Last weekend, I manned a water distribution location. So many people are working hard to tear apart the damaged portions of their homes and clean out all of the debris (which used to be their household possessions). They need water to sustain them, so my husband and I joined a crew to hand out water. This weekend, I will be back with the Red Cross. I am supposed to help clean cots that were used in the local flood shelters. Given the way these things work, I don't really know what I will be doing. I just want to do my part as a citizen of The Volunteer State.


Tragic Flooding in Nashville

>> Wednesday, May 5, 2010

We really need to get the word out. This morning, Good Morning America simply mentioned (in one sentence) that the waters were receding and people were moving back into their homes in Nashville. The report was less than 30 seconds in length. Nashville, and the surrounding counties, have experienced what is being described as a 1000 year flood. Homes, businesses, and historic landmarks have been inundated. People are living in emergency shelters. Lives have been lost. We are being asked to cut our water use in 1/2 because one of the two treatment plants has been flooded.

My family has been blessed in that our homes were spared, however I would like to share a personal story with you. On Monday, I managed to get into work. I work for the State government, and we were all asked to come in if it was safe. I had a t.v. in my office tuned into the local news when I heard a very frightening report. A viewer called in to report that Polo Park apartments was being evacuated because the water was rising. This is the apartment complex where my elderly and disabled mother lives on a ground-floor apartment. I flew out of the office and headed over there. My husband was able to contact the apartment office and told me that they might have to evacuate her by boat! When I arrived on the scene, the water in front of her apartment was up to my knees and rising. I yelled out of my window to a man standing nearby that I had a mom in a wheelchair that I needed to rescue and that I would need help. Immediately, three men appeared and said they would carry her out if necessary. We were not waiting for the boat. I had never met these young men before in my life, but they are my heroes. They managed to get my mom (and her cat) into my jeep without even getting her feet wet. They then helped me put some of her belongings up higher in hopes of keeping them dry. This is the spirit of Nashville. We take care of each other. I am so proud of my city, but we need help from the outside as well. Please encourage people to donate to the Nashville chapter of the Red Cross. or the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee .

Please also see the following facebook post:

Thanks for reading!

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