News from Nashville


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It was quite a storm. Our family was homebound most of the weekend, and had no water issues at all. We are in the minority. Our house was built 100 years ago — by the biggest contractor of the era — so it´s solid. It´s on a hill, and our basement is above ground. Newish roof, so we were fine.

Given the oil spill and the non-bombs in NYC, the story was largely ¨lost¨in the media. (CNN's) Anderson Cooper came down on Wednesday, broadcast from here, and apologized on behalf of the national media. I mean, on Tuesday, blackhawk helicopters were still dropping MREs into one of our towns near Nashville because you could only access it by air or boat! No one seemed to know this.

The city is a mess, but the REAL story is that Tennessee is the ¨Volunteer¨ state for a reason. It´s now the ¨in-style¨ to be walking around covered in grime, with rubber or work boots, unbathed (water conservation in full swing). The organization ¨Hands on Nashville¨ should be a model for the country. It´s volunteering with a click. You pick what you want to do, and they show you where you can go to do that job, and you click to commit to being there. Twice or three times as many people who are needed show up.

The damages will be in the billions. Opryland generates 25% of tourism
revenue in Nashville, and they will be closed for at least 6 months. Some are glad that the national stories haven´t been cranked up — maybe people will come back sooner if they don´t think it´s that bad. Last Saturday night, we had dinner (during the storm because who knew it would be this bad?) at Joe´s Crab Shack in downtown Nashville, and went to the Bridgestone Center right after for the Jimmy Buffet concert. We watched the tv in the restaurant in amazement that cars and houses were floating down the streets. 24 hours later, Joe´s Crab Shack was completely under water, and there was 5 feet of water inside the Bridgestone Center.

... We all went to Riverview Road (the Nashville writer, Anne Patchett, wrote about this street on the op-ed page in the NYT this week) and helped tear drywall and insulation out of a house. We used sledge hammers, in full mask/goggle/gloves garb, and went at it. The owners were there, an elderly couple with two autistic grown sons. They are living on the 2nd floor while their first floor is being taken down to the studs.

We´ll be back out today. The destruction is unreal, but the volunteer effort is even more amazing.


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A major American city is under water. Take some time to read up about the damage and see if there is something — big or small — that you can do to help.

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