Monday, May 03, 2010

Tennessee Floods

Tennessee is experiencing some major flooding right now. If you don't live in Tennessee or the surrounding states, you may still have heard about this on the national news. It's crazy to turn on national news and see the same stuff that is being reported locally (albeit in a 3-minute segment, not constant, 24-hour, preempt-the-Derby weather coverage). I actually did switch over to CNN from the local channels just to check if this was as big of a deal as we thought it was, and indeed it is (it seems to be #3 in the newsrank, after the gulf oil spill and the car bomb in Times Square). The rainfall and subsequent flooding are at historic highs. By May 2, we had topped the monthly rainfall record. Eleven people have died so far in the flooding.

Our house is on a hill, so we aren't too concerned about being personally affected, but of course have watched the news intently, seeing how the floodwaters were affecting areas where church members, Matt's parents, and other friends live. Though some interstates had been (and are still, I believe) covered in 5-10 feet of water, my route to work seemed clear, so I carried on as usual this morning. I arrived safely, and while I have not experienced any of the devastation up close, I did see signs of trouble:
A spot near our house where the road dips down pretty far often gets water right up to the road even in "normal" bad rain, so that little valley was full of water and the road was closed. I took this picture while waiting at the stop light. After turning left here, I could see down into the valley, and there was a red pickup truck out in the middle, with water up to its windows. (Between the first and second cones in this picture, you can see people on the other side of the dip watching/helping.) I soon saw a state trooper pickup hauling a trailer with a motorboat driving that way with its sirens on.

I didn't have any trouble getting to work, but the water was freakily closer to the road than usual when passing over bridges. Once at work, I examined the view from my office. The huge hole being dug for the new convention center across the street looked like a reservoir:

and the river had crept all the way up to 5th street, in front of the Country Music Hall of Fame:

The Schermerhorn Symphony Center (sort of left-center in the above pic) got a lot of water, as did most of the businesses on first and second street. Not to mention all the homes destroyed out in the suburbs. Thousands of people are staying in evacuation shelters and hotels. Cleanup could take months. There was talk today about opening various dams to move some of the water around, but I'm not sure what actually happened--rumors seem to fly and it's hard to find a definitive source of information. (The TDOT Smartmap is the best thing I've found regarding road closures, but I have no idea how up to date they're keeping it.)

The famous Opryland Hotel (near and dear to me as the site of Matt and my first date) is flooded as well and may be closed for months. This pic of Cascades (one of the hotel's big conservatories) borrowed from twitpic:

There have also been several house fires, presumably caused by gas leaks or electrical issues. A family we know lost a good chunk of their home to fire after the house next door exploded (yes, exploded) and caught the adjacent houses on fire.

Today is an absolutely gorgeous day, so it feels like things should be getting better, but as dams and pumps and electrical issues bring new problems, in addition to the long road many people will have getting things "back to normal" after losing so much.

1 comment:

Sonya said...

Glad you were able to get around. The pictures I've seen are just incredible! It's really weird when it's pictures of places you've been, like the Opryland hotel!


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