I am the National Media I am Nashville
Greetings friends and foes,
Trying to dry out here in Nashville, but wanted to take time to say thank you to all the well wishes that have poured in from around the country. My family and homestead are doing fine, though other friends and loved ones have not been as lucky.
Friday Night i went to see the New Nightmare on Elm Street film, which was nice as I had not spent a evening out with friends in a while. The movie was a mess, but thats a subject for another day. Little did any of us realize that the theater we were sitting would be 10 feet under water 24 hours later.
I had Saturday off to spend with the girls, as jessica had to be at the school. We watched it rain all day, as it had done most of the evening before. I started hearing about the water rising and flipped on the news. As the day progressed the only thing that was pouring faster than the rain was the harrowing stories. I moved to Nashville in the summer of 2001 after spending the majority of my life in tornado country Texas. This is by far the worst devastation i have seen.
Less than a mile from my home Interstate 24 had turned into a river, washing cars and eighteen wheelers away. A mobile school house, even took to the waters and exploded a stones throw away from where we live. Jessica was trapped while trying to get some last minute supplies, as police and fire departments began shutting off roads. The grocery store where we shop was up to the top of the doorways in water. She luckily made it home unscathed and we battened down the hatches and prayed for daylight.
The rain continued through the night, and was off and on until lunch time Sunday. Our yard had taken on about a foot of water, but it never reached the house. I braved the weather to see what destruction has been wrought on my neighbors. It was devastating. I did what seemed natural and began to document it through video. While I commend the local news service for their coverage, they simply could not be everywhere due to roadblocks, and general chaos. I captured the aftermath of the storm at I-24 and Haywood near Antioch Pike and Richards Road. All of the businesses had been up to the rafters in water, and were broken. I came home and edited the footage hastily, and sent it out to the news networks, as well as posting it to youtube. I’m not sure if it aired but it did receive thousands of hits in only a few hours.
I was unable to go to my job as floodwaters had blocked off most of the points in and out. The first person who died during the storm actually drowned at the highway exit that i take every day for work. Our friend Lee Vervoort came over to charge his phone and eat a hot meal, as his power like most of the city was knocked out. Our street had been spared. He ended up staying the night on Sunday.
I spent the entire weekend, and the better part of this week, relaying photos, news stories, safety information, and video via social networks. I was stunned that i wasn’t seeing our city on outlets like CNN, MSNBC, or Fox News. I actually heard one of them aired an hour long special on a new test car, though the horrors in Music City stayed contained to local outlets and video hosting sights. All of the photos and video I had seen looked eerily similar to the photos from post hurricane Katrina New Orleans, still silence on national airwaves. Our President had not said a word, and I began to understand the fury of those hurricane victims who felt isolated and uncared for by the media and their government. It was Monday and the sun was shining before any of the major networks hit the ground in Nashville.
I don’t say any of this to chastise our leaders, or slap the wrists of the likes of Anderson Cooper, Bill O’ Reilly, or Diane Sawyer. To Anderson Coopers credit, he did apologize, but I find it hard to imagine that they weren't aware of our situation. By all means the other major news of the day was of equal importance, as oil fills the gulf, and a would be assassin botched the bombing at Times Square in new York. What I learned quickly is that in this modern day they have become somewhat obsolete. While local anchors at WSMV, WTVF, and WKRN were knee high in water, local people including bloggers, tweeters, and film makers were filling in the gaps. The people at Nashvillest.com were tweeting around the clock with info on how to get in contact with shelters, as well as bringing pictures from local photogs of our city being laid to waste. There was no agenda, or control over what we could see. It was all available live and up to the minute brought to you proudly by the men and women of the Volunteer state.
I have shed tears in the last few days, both for the lives lost and the institutions that have seen damage. Early estimates put the damage at over a billion dollars. Our tourism industry is being shaken to the ground as the Opryland hotel was taken in by the river, and will be closed for repairs for at least six months. The botanical gardens were destroyed. Inside Opry Mills, where I had seen the movie on Friday night, the Aquariums were shattered when the floodwaters floated debris into the glass. Hundreds of saltwater fish were destroyed. A tank of Piranhas was also opened and they are said to be infesting the waters within the mall. It will be interesting to see if enough of them survived to enter the eco system.
Our cultural heritage has been decimated as the Grand Ole Opry, Country Music hall Of Fame, and Schermerhorn Symphony Center. all took on water. The Honky Tonks on Broadway were all filled ( though i hear some cowboys are still playing and drinking even with water in their boots). Our NHL and NFL arenas were both filled with water. It is a nightmare to behold, and needless to say it will be months and years before we recover, but we will recover.
As the rest of the nation now watches, they will see a force mightier than a flood. They will see communities arm and arm rebuilding structures, and restoring lives. We will make good on our namesake as Volunteers from within our city will put things back in order, and the greatest songwriters in the world will pen anthems to a flood. These witnesses will see our might, and hear our songs, and we will never forgotten again.