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.
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.