May 1, 2011.
One year ago today, it started raining. I remember trying to complete a Saturday motorcycle certification class. After hours of waiting for lightning to stop so we could head out on the bikes, our instructor gave up. He said we would have to wait for a break in the weather the next day. While the rain had only started, a couple of classmates had already gotten into accidents, being unable to pass roads. We doubted his excitement about holding a longer Sunday class to finish our training.
It was a slow road home, and the rain became stronger. Intersections were unpassable. Stores were closing. Evening brought tales of people trapped on rooftops. Hospitals trying to move patients to higher floors. Sandbagging, but no one quite knew how to get to the affected areas to be able to help.
And Sunday. May 2nd. It kept raining. Photos of a building floating down the freeway filled the local news. The story is completely dormant on the national news. Power is out. Friends wait to see if their houses will be next in line to be filled with gushing water. Many are without power. Everyone is helpless to bring aid as nearly all roads are impassable. So we wait. And late in the afternoon, the rain quietly stops and the sun appears. The birds sing. Quietly people emerge from their houses and in my neighborhood. We are on high ground so other than a tree down here and a consistent statement of nearly everyone with flooded basements, very little was harmed.
The rest of the city I love didn’t fare so well. Stories pouring in of loved ones who lost everything. Downtown buildings with millions of dollars of damage. Neighborhoods lost. The Grand Old Opry closed indefinitely.
But what I saw emerge was a community that loves. A Volunteer State that does exactly that. Nashville as a whole put on it’s work gloves and helped each other rebuild. Without question, people opened their hearts and wallets, caravanned to the distraught neighborhoods and went to work. Tirelessly. Water was conserved. Benefits were held. A battle cry of We Are Nashville was coined and together our city quietly did the work needed to rebuild lives.
And now a year later we reflect and still wonder when some of our friend’s homes will be completely restored. When our Opry Mills mall will be re-opened.
Last week, tornadoes tore through Alabama just a few hours south of us. And I think Nashville just understands. Without delay, groups are gathering together to help. Raising money. Holding Benefits. Filling trucks with water and supplies and caravanning down the road, ready to tirelessly communities that have lost their hope.
And while I’m horrified at the images emerging from my neighbors to the south, I am so proud to say that I live in a city that continues to uphold it’s tradition of answering the call when so many need help.
May it not require disaster for us to continue see the needs of those around us.