I haven’t lived in the city of Nashville for very long, about seven months. That’s enough time to experience a couple of seasons, find some great restaurants, declare a few “favorite places,” and meet several new faces. I still tell people I’m from Texas. I still consider myself a newby to the area, and I still get lost on my way to Wal-Mart. But the recent weather has changed these outsider feelings.
Nashville flooded last weekend. My county as well as 29 others were declared “disaster zones” by the federal government, and FEMA is actively trying to assist those who lost things like their homes, their cars, and for some, their loved ones. I know of many similar situations. I have heard it regarding the devastation to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina left her wake. I have heard descriptions and seen pictures of victimized countries like Haiti, Chile, Indonesia, Thailand, the list could go on.
From a natural disaster standpoint, there is nothing unique about the flood in Nashville. Floods have ravaged cities for as long as rain has fallen from the sky. And the piles of debris and stacks of abandoned cars I see in Nashville have been seen by many people in many hometowns over the years. But this is the first time I have ever felt the weight of a storm and witnessed the effects it’s capable of. This is the first time I have watched rain fall so hard for such a long time, and I was watching it out my own window.
I was fortunate to not suffer any damage to my things. The most direct effect for me is using port-a-potties at work (our restrooms have been shut down) and cutting my water usage in half (one of our water plants is currently submerged). Many were not so fortunate and now have a lot of work to do. We have a lot of work to do.
That “we” has been my lesson of the week, really one of my biggest lessons yet: when things fall down, it is our job to put them back up, whether the thing was mine or not, and this is what Nashville has exemplified over the past six days. A popular local blogger concluded his blog post about the flood with a simple phrase: “…we are Nashville.” These three words have spread like the water itself this week.
Citizens know what it means, it’s on t-shirts, it’s on twitter, facebook, it’s giving the city a hope and a resolve to build. And so build we will. I still feel strange saying “we.” I have only lived here for a short time. Seven months is nothing compared to seven years, or a lifetime, but I’m feeling pulled in. I’m caring as if it were my hometown, and I decided it doesn’t matter. The amount of time one has lived in a place cannot limit how much they want to see that place prosper and not let a natural disaster get the best of it.
I’ve had a Nicole Nordman song stuck in my head recently that articulates what Nashville will being doing for a long time to come:
So we build
We clear away what was and make room for what will be
If you hold the nails, I’ll take the hammer
I’ll hold it still, if you’ll climb the ladder
If you will, then I will, build