Monday, May 3, 2010

And The Parrot Heads Went Into The Ark Two By Two

When I joked in the last post about floating away in Nashville, I had no idea how close to the truth I was. The Hula-gen’s didn’t float away this weekend, but some folks around us did. Geez. I looked at Hubby Saturday night as we drove home from Nashville in blinding rain trying to avoid flooded roads and said, “Drama follows us everywhere. Even when we try to have a good time there is drama involved.”

By now, you have likely seen news coverage of the severe flooding in middle and western Tennessee. It is a mess down there. Some fifteen people have died, hundreds of homes are under water and major roads are closed. Nashville is scrambling to get control of its roads and infrastructure, and for those of us familiar with that city, the scenes there are startling.

Above photos from The Tennessean-anonymous contributors

Those of us who live in this part of the country frequent Nashville or Nash Vegas as we call it. It is a hop, skip and jump from my city, roughly two hours. We go there for concerts and special events. It’s touristy enough to spend the weekend there when we need a quick getaway. And because of the country music industry, it’s a fun place because you never know who you’re going to run into. It’s also a popular place for specialized medical care for folks in this region, and many of us use the Nashville Airport for air travel. In my opinion, it’s a great city. It’s big enough and slick enough to be a big city, but it still has somewhat of a small town feel to it. When I worked in television, I had a couple of job offers from stations in Nashville, and Hubby and I considered moving there. For a variety of reasons, we chose to stay put, but if I were going to move to a bigger city it would likely be Nashville. All of this is to say that the streets and sights around Nashville are very familiar to many folks in these parts, and it’s shocking to see them underwater.

For those of you who have never been to Nashville, the Opryland Hotel is probably the most recognizable sight. It’s known for its lush gardens and dramatic Christmas light displays. As of two o’clock this afternoon there was ten feet of water in the Opryland Hotel and it had been evacuated. It is closed indefinitely. WKRN has some pictures of it on their website, and the damage has to be in the millions of dollars.

Downtown, which is where we were Saturday, was evacuated earlier today when water from the Cumberland River had risen onto Second Avenue covering the corner where Hubby and I stood Saturday afternoon while trying to decide where to eat. This photo from The Tennessean was apparently taken not too long after we walked through there on our way to the car Saturday night.

This evening, I saw video where flood waters are now four feet deep in the Bridgestone Arena where we sat for the concert Saturday night. There are plenty of amazing photos on various websites. I recommend the live streaming coverage from WSMV. I have practically no photos of my own since it rained so hard the whole time we were downtown Saturday I didn’t take my camera out of the bag but once. I didn’t want to risk damaging it, and it promptly started raining about thirty seconds after I whipped it out. On a positive note, I can say the built in rain cover on my new camera bag works swell.

Apparently, Hubby and I arrived in Nashville at just the right time and left on the right roads at the right time. We arrived downtown about 2pm and the roads around town started flooding soon afterward. I have never seen it rain so hard for so long. All. Day. Long. As the non stop driving rain put a halt to any tailgating, the party moved indoors. Parrot Heads from all over the country gathered in bars on Broadway near the Bridgestone Arena and watched the nonstop news coverage of the waters closing in without a care about how they were going to get home.

As I snapped this picture with my phone, I laughed out loud about how nothing seems to get in the way of a Parrot Head gathering.

Jimmy even made some kind of comment about it when he took the stage that night. The arena was full, so people found a way to get there, and I suspect a few of them came by ark.

We left the arena in driving rain with small rivers of water pouring over the sidewalks and parts of the streets. People huddled in the doorways of Tootsie’s Lounge and The Wheel as we splashed our way to the parking garage. I was having flashbacks of the night Sissy and I stood outside in tornado weather to see Eric Clapton. (For a chuckle, you can read part 1 of that adventure here and part 2 there. ) Given that experience I had brought with us towels, plastic ponchos and a change of clothes, including shoes, when we left the house that morning. It was the smartest thing I’ve done in a long time. We changed clothes in the van and scurried out of the garage to beat the crowd. The elderly gentleman working at the gate gave us his best suggestion for getting out of town without hitting roads blocked by water. His idea proved to be an excellent one, and we slid out of town pretty well. The thought of getting a hotel room crossed our minds, but we wanted to try to get home. It seems we made a good decision as it was harder Sunday to get out of town amid the higher waters. The only issue was the pounding rain and storms we drove through all the way home. As we neared home we hit three separate counties under tornado warnings. I used my BlackBerry and the radio to keep on top of the warnings, while the lightning flashed nonstop around us and the sky churned. I usually don’t get too worked up about storms, but I have to tell you my backside was pretty tight for about sixty five miles. And I am now officially in love with my BlackBerry.

We made it home around 2am, safe and tired. My grass skirt and parrot flip-flops are drying in the garage. A good time was had by all. The concert was great, and we have an interesting story to go along with it. But seriously, I really hope it’s dry when we go back to Nashville in June to see Neil Young at the Ryman Auditorium. Dry and uneventful. Oh, and to the other Parrot Heads in Rippy’s Saturday afternoon and evening, thanks for the good time. There's no one I'd rather experience a flood with.


oreneta said...

watery margaritas are still good , no?

Glad we're not getting THAT sort of rain anyway. Glad too that you made it home without any real problems.

Anonymous said...

Dee from Tennessee (waaaaaaaay up in the corner next to Va and NC)

I thought about you - several times. One of my fb friends went, and I followed her status updates (she left her camera in hotel). AND I was watching the radar like a hawk -- knowing that it was just drivin' me more crazy than I already am. Thankful y'all had a good time -- we love N'ville too -- and that you made it back home safely. Hubby has family in Williamson County , and we still haven't talked to any of them. It's hard to comprehend how bad it is by just looking at the pics.

The Church Lady said...

What an experience! So glad you made it home safe and sound. Bummer about the rain and flooding. I was looking forward to seeing some crazy pictures!

Janis said...

Wow what a mess...this is one for the memory bank...don't think you will forget. Glad you had a good time and arrived back home safe.

J.G. said...

It's okay if disaster follows you, as long as it doesn't ever catch up. Glad you managed a good time despite everything, and lots of good thoughts to those in your area who haven't been so lucky.

karisma said...

Glad you got out in time! I do like floods at all, been there, done that! Not nice! I hope it clears away quickly for those that did not get away! Hugs xoxox

Trailboss said...

It is a horrible situation. My brother lives in Hendersonville Tn, but he didn't have any flooding. It was south of him. Thank goodness for that.

I'm glad yall got home safely. I thought of you and was hoping you had a good time anyway.

Sky McCracken said...

Banana Winds and Gal made it home ok. Went to Memphis by way of Paducah. Nothing like the scenic route.

Bro. Dave said...

Hey, Hula! Heard you asked about us! Nice to know someone cares!

Despite the weather, it was a fun concert! I'm ready to do it again!

You can read about our experiences of the weekend at my blog. I linked to you for pics.

BTW, my church is going to go ahead and start collecting Flood Buckets for UMCOR. I know they'll be needed.

Rink's Ramblings said...

Hopefully the Ryman will be dried out and open for business when Neil comes to Nashville.

dkuroiwa said...

Okay...first of very glad you all (ya'll!!) are okay!! took me awhile to get here to this post, but i was having a big of a Brother Jimmy B moment and remembered I hadn't checked out how the concert was!!! though Lord knows, it was nothing short of fabulous (or so i can only imagine!).
and FYI...we? have the same concert tastes!! we saw Neil Young (and his GreenDay tour) here in Japan a few years ago....wonderful!!! I was just glad there wasn't a fire or something, 'cause with all that flannel in the audience, we would have gone up quicker than anything!!!