Nashville flooded. I’m sure that everyone knows this by now; locally we experienced it, friends of locals saw it on Facebook, and nationally, it made news a few days ago. During the floods, while I watched a building float down Interstate-24 on TV, a road which I was driving on a mere two hours beforehand, I got a feeling in my gut. I’ve only had this feeling once before: September 11th while watching the second plane fly into the tower. I can only summarize this by saying Ifelt that everything would not be the same after that point. I was surprised both times by how right that feeling was.
It was the worst flood in our area in over 500 years, and the most costly state event since the Civil War.
This is a tragedy for our area, but it’s also been incredibly uniting (as most tragedies are). We Are Nashville has become a rallying cry for our city, thanks to this blog. It was in part a reaction to the flood and part reaction to the major lack of attention our tragedy was getting nationally. As Keith Olberman put it, if there’s anything worse than your community going through a disaster, it’s your community going through a disaster while other bigger and more publicized disasters are going on. This statement is truer than I wish it was; while I (and most other Nashvillians) recognize the magnitude of the other disasters, it’s incredibly painful to be ignored while you are suffering.
I am a big proponent of allowing people to cope however they need, unless it injures others. Around town people have been creating an artistic outlet for the overwhelmed, religious groups have been holding lament, bloggers are writing through their emotions, and individuals are just searching for a way to help out.
Unlike my Southern counterparts, I have never understood national, state, or even city pride. I have no desire to fly a flag on my back porch or cover my back truck window with a bald eagle, a common sight out here. Our state is the “Volunteer” State; personally I’ve always thought that was a little silly: so people volunteered for war in outstanding numbers in the 1800s. As an anti-war, vaguely twenty-six year old, it’s hard to glorify that.
Now I get it.
In the past week, from May 3-7, over 19,000 hours of volunteer work has been dedicated to flood relief, and that’s just through one organization. That’s 158 total days of work…in 5, and even that is just in Nashville. I am proud of Nashville, proud to be from here, and proud of the citizens. Donald Miller made a good observation by pointing out that art and music (two cornerstones of Nashville) creates a strong community, and rebuilding is almost impossible without it. In a time where community is not always an aspect of a city, I am especially proud of our arts based community.
Exhausted emotionally and physically, yet still somehow energized, as the week after the flood closes, Nashville remains a strong community; and perhaps even stronger than we started.