A Flood Survival Story

Or,  How I Stopped Being Bored

Barbara Turner

© Copyright 2015   by Barbara Turner


Photo of heavy rain coming off a gutter.

The last week of Apr 2010 was the most fun week I have had in years. I had agreed to host two artists from Berlin who needed a host family in Nashville. Thomas and Robert turned out to be interesting, fun and we trucked all over Nashville, with me trying to show these doubters from Germany that America was a great place. Of course, my memories of Germany are 40 years old and not that great and I wanted them to love my new country.

My name is Barbara Turner and my husband Bill and I have lived next to the Cumberland River ever since we got married in 1990. Before we got married, I had been a lot more active socially, but had settled into a good routine. Bill is not exactly a party person and I was getting sort of tired of it myself. Too much work. We both used to work for TNN producing music shows and we are now both on Social Security and do freelance work. And generally, that is enough. I am active in some music related women’s organizations and do some other charity work and we have three dogs and several children that, though they are way past 21, still need care and attention. So, life tuckers along.

However, Friday night, April 30th, I was all despondent because I had put the last of my two playmates on a plane back to Germany and I was bitching to my husband about how boring life would be again, now that my playmates had left. You need to know that although I am really old enough to know better, I still want to be out and about, the center of attention, chatting about nothing for hours and generally just be entertained. So, I was all upset.

And then it started raining, which did not help my mood one bit. And it continued raining, in buckets all through Saturday, May 1 and then into Sunday, May 2. We had had some flooding from the river before, but the highest it ever got was about 1/3 into the back yard. By Sunday, it was becoming clear that this was not a usual situation. The river kept coming higher and we all kept looking at it, saying stupid things like “it can’t get much higher, can it”. And we kept watching, fascinated, but not really concerned. When you live 6 feet above the 300 year flood plain, rain does not concern you all that much.

Sunday afternoon Bill’s son called to tell us that they had lost electricity and that his daughter Audrey wanted to come over because she is afraid of the dark. I did not think it was a great idea. Not because I thought she would be in peril, but I was still all depressed and did not want to be bothered. It is easy to guilt me into things, and after a feeble attempt at saying “NO”, I finally caved and Audrey came over. And, it kept raining.

I really can’t remember the details of that day, they were so ordinary, except for the rain. In the meantime, we had watched the fence around our property disappear and, since it seemed that the water might reach the basement, we had put some boards into the doors downstairs to keep the water from coming in. And it was getting a little nerve racking, because the river kept coming.

To understand this story, you also need to know that about ½ a mile downriver from us is a multi million dollar luxury hotel, the Opryland Hotel and the Grand Ole Opry. A few miles up- river is the Old Hickory Dam, which is controlled by the Corps of Engineers. They are the people that cannot find their butt with both hands, in case you did not know. In any case, we had always considered those properties our best insurance. After all, 23% of room tax revenue for the city of Nashville is generated by that hotel. TNN had been a division of Gaylord which owns the hotel, but has since sold TNN. So when the 10PM news reported that the hotel was being evacuated, and they have huge retaining walls around their property, things became immediate and scary. I decided to call an old friend at Gaylord, after all I had worked there for 18 years, to find out what exactly was happening. My very harried friend told me that the Corps had alerted them to the possibility that the retaining wall would either be breached or the water would go over it, which meant that almost 3,000 hotel guest would not be able to get out. Armed with that knowledge, I called my neighbors who were having a “we can survive this thing in style” party to tell them to wrap it up and start worrying. Instead, they told me that was the best possible news, because if the retaining wall broke, the water would have more room to spread and we would not be as prone to flooding. I am decidedly gullible, but that was more than I could buy into.
My husband, in the meantime, kept asking me to leave and take Audrey with me. Remember, 6 feet above the 300 year flood plain. So, I dismissed that notion out of hand and refused. He kept on and on and finally pulled the trump card “ I would feel so much better if I did not have to worry about the two of you.” In a major huff, I agreed and threw some things into an overnight bag, including some wine, because I was so angry that I knew, for a fact, that no matter where I ended up, I would want an adult beverage.

As we got into our driveway we realized that the water had covered the street. Now, I am not a stupid person, but that does mean that I don’t do stupid things. So, totally disregarding the fact that I make very snide comment about stupid people who drive in standing water, I took off my socks and shoes and got in the car with Audrey. I figured once we got to where we were going, I would have dry foot ware. At that time, I was driving a Volvo Cross Country which is higher than most cars and the water had really only come up a little bit on the tires. It had not even reached the rims. So, we took off.
Unbeknownst to anyone, the Corp had opened Old Hickory Dam and released over 5 million gallons of water. And they caught up with me. At the end of my street, about 1/3 of a mile from my house, the water reached us and the car died. I could not open the door. Audrey is freaking. So, I have one of those hammers that shatters glass in an emergency. Guess what, they don’t work. The car starts drifting in the water, turning and I have no idea where it will end up. Very close to us is a boat ramp and if it drifts into that direction, it will pull us into the main river and we’ll end up who know where, if we don’t drown before that. I keep trying the door and it finally opens. Audrey and I get out and sramble up on a berm that the time share condos across the street from us have built to cut down noise from their property onto our quit street. It
is to totally overgrown with all sorts of stuff and brambles and it takes me a good 10 minutes to pull all that aside to get to the top of it. I fall several times, lose my glasses, my wedding ring and everything in my purse and my overnight bag is soaked in this nasty river water. Audrey falls as well and everything in her bag gets wet, including her laptop and her cell phone. Strangely enough, this whole time I am not at all scared. I am, however, very very angry at my own stupidity and at my husband for “making” me leave.

So, we reach the top of the berm and only to find that their parking lot is under water up to car doors. I start calling for help and it takes a few minutes before someone shows up. He is a neighbor at the end of the street who is also a maintenance worker at the time share. He gets a little boat for Audrey and I walk along with him to the time shares. The water is about up to my thighs and I am 5’10”. So, they put us in a condo that is empty and is on the second floor. We still have phone service and electricity. So, I try to call my husband and his cell does not work. When he did not hear from me sooner, he went looking for us and found my car at the end of the road. His cell phone got wet and did not work. In any case, it took a while for me to reach him, which I finally do, Still madder than a wet hen. All our clothes are wet so we throw them in the dryer. Audrey gets a shower and I am trying to dry out some cigarettes in the oven, so I can finally have a cigarette and a glass of wine and put this nasty experience behind me until morning.

But no, the electricity goes out and my cigarette drying comes to an abrupt halt. Our good Samaritan and his wife had come to see if they could stay in our second bedroom, since the condo they were in only had a Murphy bed. Of course, we were happy to let them stay. His wife’s efforts to vacuum and straighten out the condo also come to an abrupt halt when we lose electricity. Actually, I am in awe to this day that this woman was CLEANING when we weren’t even sure the whole building would not wash away or at least be covered in filthy river water.

When we are all finally forced to do nothing, this great women pulls out cigarettes and I pulled out my wine and we had a good swap meet.

The night was damp and no one really slept all that well. Audrey is still afraid of the dark and now has traded in dark and wet for just dark at home. But she is holding up well and finally goes to sleep. The next morning several people come by to tell me that my husband is well because relatives with TV and all the comforts of civilization have called them to tell them they heard him on TV and to tell me not to worry. We have all bonded over this mess and breakfast foods are shared and those whose cell phones are still working are keeping us updated.

Around 11AM the coast guard appears and evacuates us to the end of the street and then by bus to the Marriott, where the actual Wyndham guests will be taken care of. They are very nice and take all of us, even those of us who crashed over night. I have no shoes since I had taken them off before I got in the car, I have on damp khakis and a night shirt, that with lose scrutiny can pass for a tunic. So, we’re off to the Marriott and hopefully, communication. I finally borrow someone’s cell and call Bill who has somehow fixed his mobile and I tell him I am coming back.

The Wyndham people have sent out to K-mart for a pair of flip flops for me and I am ready to go. Audrey’s father comes to pick up his daughter and take me back to the end of Pennington Bend, so I can try to make my home from there.

My plan is to get to a restaurant that my husband eats lunch in every day called the Scoreboard and see if someone there has boat that can take me back to my house, my husband and my babies. It is about ½ mile from our house and one of those neighborhood bars where everyone knows everyone. When I arrive there, the place is closed to the public because it is surrounded by water, which is astonishing, since it is so much higher than where we live. However, some regulars and other flood victims are in there. Barrett has opened the bar, the drinks are free and it is quite festive. And, there are boats, but they are out and I have to wait a little while. About the time I get ready to leave, my husband and our three dogs come in the front door. The coast guard had come to evacuate him and when he politely tried to refuse they would have nothing of it and packed them all up. The re-union was very emotional – with the dogs. The humans were a little more restrained. So, we had a few drinks and then decided we needed to make arrangements to stay somewhere. The Fiddler’s Inn, another neighborhood establishment, which normally only caters to tourists had made rooms available at a fabulous rate for flood victims from the area and we got to keep our dogs. Which is good, because by then we had been politely asked to leave since Charlie, our male dachshund, was busy marking his territory in the bar and they somehow did not think that was as cute as I thought it was.

Barrett finally takes me to the house to pick up a few more things and to roll up the last of the oriental carpets to put upstairs. Just in case. I now have clean clothes, toiletries and medicine, which is quite a bit, considering. Even though I am still mad at Bill, I bring him some clean clothes too.

The first night in the hotel was somewhat restless. The babies were freaked and Emily, our lab, takes her job as our protector seriously. Any time someone three rooms over cleared their throat she would go into full protect mode, barking and carrying on. So, we decided that would not do and found a kennel that would let the three of them stay in one run. Getting them there created it’s own set of problems, since there were no rental cars to be had, for love or money. I finally borrowed the car of a college student away in California and a friend of Bill’s offered him one of their cars. The dogs are taken care of. As it turns out, their hotel stay was somewhat more expensive than hours, but they are worth it.

No one knows if the water has risen enough to get into our houses finally and we cannot sneak in because by now the police and coast guard are patrolling and no one is allowed in. So, we wait. But we do start making phone calls to insurance companies, to friends, to FEMA to anyone we think might have some useful information, etc. And, we continue to hang out at the Scoreboard for drinks and information. It’s a little boring, but not too bad. I cannot go see my babies, because it would be really cruel to go see them and then leave them again and that bothers me to no end. Other than that, we are just waiting and watching television. If someone had told any of us this would be happening in Nashville one day and we would be in it, we would have all thought that was crazy and yet here we are.

We cannot wash our clothes because all the laundromats are closed and by Thursday, May 6, when we are finally allowed back home, we are wearing our cleanest dirty clothes. Bill and I are incredibly fortunate. The water came within 8 inches of our bedrooms but did not get into the first floor. We cannot move back in, because there is no plumbing, no water and the sewer does not work, but at least we can start cleaning out the basements which were filled with water to the subfloors and are smelling incredibly bad.

Not one to waste time, I hire a bunch of people from the Scoreboard to come and clean out the mess. You know, the regulars and those who start work at 5PM and have all day to do other things. You would be amazed how many people are willing to work for $15 cash an hour. At one time we have so many people, we have to send some away, because they are getting into each others way. Friends show up with supplies and masks and help our guys with that filthy work. That is over and above friendship, but it was welcomed. We know each other and we can talk about stuff. The basement is a nightmare. We had been thinking about selling the house, but knowing we had to clean out the basement to do that, gave up on the idea because neither one of us wanted to tackle it. Now it is taken care of for us.

While the boys are cleaning out the basement I sit on the front steps and check out the traffic. Everyone who has ever done any handiwork, owns a cleaning business or otherwise thinks there is work to be had is coming down our road. All I have to so is flag people down and get quotes and I don’t even have to get up. I am getting a sunburn, but other than that, am actually having a good time. Remember, I love to chat and be entertained and that is all happening right in my front yard. And while I am just sitting there it occurs to me that I AM NOT BORED. My worst fears from Friday night – gosh, was it only 7 days ago – have not come true. I am busy, I am doing things and although I would not have chosen something quite this drastic, it does the job.
By Saturday afternoon the basement is almost empty. One of the few things remaining is a huge freezer with 198 pounds of beef in it. In my efforts to be more green and to eat more healthy stuff I have purchased ¼ of a yearling, grass fed Angus beef. So much for that. The smell is overpowering. This meat has been in there since the electricity in the basement went out, the water pushed the freezer over and no one, but no one, wants to open the doors to clean it out. So, the boys tape it shut and heft that thing in it’s entirety onto Bill’s truck. All the way down the street the odor is so noticeable that people stop what they are doing to check it out. A guy at a red light tells them they are not getting paid enough for this and I totally agree with him. Saturday night we all have a little “wrap party”. The basement is empty and Sunday the actual clean up can start.

While all this is happening, the water department has fixed our sewers and our water, we never really lost electricity upstairs and we even have cable. No air conditioning, but hey, it is not too bad outside. So, On Sunday while the ServPro people are power washing the basement and starting to dry it out, we move back in.
While all this has been taking place, FEMA and the flood insurance people have come by to assess the damages and send in their reports. I was astonished at the speed with which people came out. I have also gotten a ton of material from FEMA, which we have to pick up at the post

office, since there is no mail delivery. The entire street is lined with trash, from insulation to duct work, appliances, furniture, clothes, food that spoiled and it is a truly upsetting sight. Volunteers are coming by all the time with water, food, supplies and even tools and most of all, people willing to help. The police have closed off the ends of the street to keep sight seers from clogging up the streets any more than they already are and to keep looters out, I would guess. Which brings up a burning question for me “ what can possibly be so interesting in other people’s misery that you would spend precious time to observe it”. It is not one of the higher human traits I would say and it really made me sick that people even tried. If you have that much time, pitch in for crying out loud.

By now I am beginning to feel guilty, because we were so lucky. Our neighbors not only had water in their actual houses, but there is a question now if some of them can rebuild because of flood plain levels and such. Also, there are quite a few families on this street that did not have flood insurance and the damages to their homes are extensive. I am not sure what I think about that, actually. Living next to a large, flowing body of water seems a real good reason to buy flood insurance, no matter the cost. But then, it is easy for me to say that, since I can afford to pay it. I guess some people just could not and now they are in a really bad situation. And, from what I understand, some people who got flooded never in a million years thought they would and even their insurance companies and mortgage companies did not insist they get flood insurance.

There have been some great stories on this street too. One of my neighbors has two boats and the whole time during the worst of it all, he helped evacuate people, take them back to get medicine or their pets and even gave one of his boats to the emergency services. Nashville did not exactly have a fleet of boats, though I suspect, that will change somewhat. Another neighbor on a jet ski saved a lady whose house blew up and burned. Surrounded by water, the damn thing burned and he got her out just in time before it blew up. He had seen smoke and jetted over there. As it turns out, she is one of the lucky ones – her homeowners insurance will cover here loss.
I think about now my timeline is getting fuzzy. But at least the story is in sequence, even if I am off by a day or so, I hope you understand.

You may wonder why I am only talking about other people doing actual work. If that is the impression you have, you are mistaken. I produce things, music shows, videos, flood cleaning crews, it is all the same to me. Every good organization needs someone with the “big picture” and that is me. I pride myself on the harmonious crews I have put together over the years and this is no exception. We all get along, have a beer or two after work and shoot the breeze. Long after we really need all these people, we have some of them come back because we enjoy

their company and misery is better spread out over a larger number and there is always something that needs to be done.

I am also busy getting estimates on replacing air conditioning units, water heaters, cars and whatever else we need to replace immediately to live with some sort of comfort. One of my favorites is a quote from Donelson Air Conditioning for $31,000 to replace two air conditioners and a water heater. I am obviously not a expert and neither is my husband, but even ignorant people can tell when they are being had. I had seen the duct work that was pulled out of the basement laying by the side of the road and that was NOT $10,000 worth. So, Bill called a friend in the construction business and he referred a reputable, local contractor who did the work, with better equipment for about $16,000. In the meantime, the ServPro people are doing a great job with de-humidifiers upstairs and downstairs and fans everywhere. The racket is almost more than we can take, but it is for a good cause, so we live with it.

The love of my life, my Volvo, is still stitting in the driveway but I know I have to replace it. These darn computers in cars now make it impossible to salvage anything. So, for the first time in my life I decide that I am buying my own car. To me a great car is one that starts when you turn the key and that is either midnight blue, burgundy or forest green. All my life I have had a father, a husband, a son who advised me and some of the time I ended up with a car that I would not have bought in my wildest dreams. But they ran, so they were alright. I am aware that my insurance payment will not cover a new Volvo and so I start looking on the internet. I have no idea how this works, but just looking on a site will generate an e-mail from the dealer or worse, a phone call.

So, I subscribed to Consumer Reports and one night happen to see a Subaru Outback on TV. I like it, I like the slogan, something like “Love is a Subaru” and so I decide to check into that. I am also very taken with the Hunday Sonata, because my neighbor drives one and I like the way it looks. As it turns out, she drives a Kia, but it does not matter, because I have settled on a Subaru.

I have gotten a call from the internet manager at Jim Reed here in Nashville and so I call. He is not in, but someone else is more than happy to help me. Remember, I have spent 3 days doing research on the internet and take exception to the fact that the sales person talks to me as if I am slightly retarded. And he calls me Hon. So, I am forced to stop the conversation and explain to him that not all women are a Hon and that he can stop speaking slowly because I know what I want and if he can help me get it, we can do business. If not, there are other car dealers. We come to an agreement. I go to test drive a few cars. My salesman is not available and I end up with yet another one and the internet manager. I think his name was MC, but I can’t be sure. So, MC explains all the reasons a Subaru is a good buy, and this is after I tell him I want to buy the Forester. He gives me a quote, I take it home and check it with my Consumer Reports. They list prices from the lowest to the highest range and, I know you guessed, his is the highest range. So I call Darrell Waltrip, give them the exact specifications and ask for a quote. Sam is polite, helpful and prompt and so the next morning I have a much better quo from them. I call Jim Reed, tell MC that if he can match this price, he has a deal. He says he’ll call me back. He does not. I call again and then a third time and this time he only needs 5 minutes. This was about 4 weeks ago and I have yet to get his counter offer

So, I buy my brand new Subaru Forester, maroon and write the biggest check I have ever written in my life. This is a Friday. On Saturday, I am having trouble getting the car started, but I assume that is because it is new and I am doing something wrong. On Sunday I call my husband from the Sam’s parking lot because I cannot get the car started. It has 341 miles on it. Somehow, it does start eventually and the next morning I take it back to Darrell’s place. There are no problems, they will find me another car, exactly like that one. As it turns out, the key was not programmed properly, but I really don’t care. I want a new car. So, I pick that up on Thursday of the same week and it starts and it does everything I want it to do. Friday I am going to a ladies lunch downtown Nashville, with a bunch of my friends. When I leave the restaurant the valet parking guy tells me he has to talk to me because there is a problem. Someone ran into me. I am no fool and immediately know that my girl friends put him up to this, but it is really true. Someone rear ended me. It was one of the women I had lunch with and to this day I am trying to figure out what it was that I said that ticked her off like that. The damages are not bad and I am truly lucky because I can now skip that anxious period when you first get a car and you try desperately not to have nicks and bumps in it. I don’t have to park way far away from stores any more, my nicking has already been done.

Somewhere during all this I hear about a Lowe’s Outlet store and I go to see what they have. I end up buying a washer and dryer for next to nothing and Jerry, the owner of the store, absolutely refuses to charge me sales tax or a hook up and delivery fee. He thinks it is repulsive that people are making money on our losses. Needless to say, I agree with him and when I go to the neighborhood meeting that Mike Turner, the Democratic Caucus Chairman has put on, I am ready to do battle. It was a really well organized meeting with people from every department that would touch our lives in the next few weeks. Codes, the water department, the police, FEMA, SBA and flood insurance people were all there.

When it is my turn to ask a question I politely inquire about why sales tax for flood replacement has not been waived and I am told there is a bill, but it has not passed and no, they don’t know if it will be retro-active. So, in other words, we need to wait if we want to realize any savings. We are in an election cycle, as you might know, and the favorite for local politicians is Washington bashing. When it comes to accepting federal aid we are on a much better footing and will NOT kick their butts. Because as long as the Feds do it all, Tennessee does not have to do anything. I am referring to the state level, not the local level. Channel 2 is there and wants to know if I am willing to speak on camera about this subject and I am so mad, I agree. I HATE being on camera. There is an African superstition that every time someone takes your picture, they take a piece of your soul and I know it to be a fact. Just look at all the people that have their pictures taken all the time – no discernible soul left. I vent on TV, the bill gets passed and people will save some money. It does not cover cars, so people whose biggest expense was replacing their cars, or those who will not be able to rebuilt get nothing or very little. The $2,000 I spent on tax for my car would have bought a lot of necessities. It also does not cover air conditioning and heating units, another major expense. Shame on the state.

So, life is almost back to normal. Our contractor is almost done in the basement, we have air conditioning, hot water, a new car, the grass my husband planted is coming up because our  back yard is now very fertile. All that rive muck that was deposited is helping a lot. Remember the Nile being the bread basket of the ancient world. Same basic principle. The only thing we don’t have is money.

And, there is a reason for that. Hell, I cried when President Obama was elected – my Republican friends need to know- they were tears of joy. I just knew that this was going to be handled well, after all, the government practiced on Katrina for years. So, I took money out of my retirement account, I happily put huge amounts of credit on my cards, people had to get paid. And I did not wait until I knew how much I was getting. It did not matter, the potential mold in the basement was not going to pay attention to the government’s time table.

And, they lined up. FEMA came first, the flood insurance people came next, then the Home Owners people and the car insurance people are my favorites. They never showed up, they just sent a check. The Small Business Administration people were last, not because they are slow, but there is a sequence which I will explain shortly.
Kathy from FEMA was just about on her last leg when she showed up. She had been scheduled at x number of hours per house and, needless to say, some took a lot longer and so she was running behind. She also did not want us to think that she was not concerned about us and so she came by several times to tell us she was going to be late. She was a very nice person, who based on her estimate of our replacement cost, lives in a very cheap part of the country. Her estimate, of $14,000 is so ludicrously low, that I am at this very moment in an adversarial situation with FEMA. And, she measured the house.

Josh, from the flood insurance people was probably the best thing that happened to us. He came by and it was apparent that he knew his stuff. When I ran some estimates by him, he sort of sat up. When I asked him if there was something wrong, he told me that he really was not in a position to make the kind of judgments, but to watch his eyebrows. That gave us a real good idea if these estimates were in the ballpark of what the flood insurance people considered reasonable. And, since they work from a pre-determined table, it was important to know. His estimate was $34,000 minus a $5,000 deductible. Now, since we have no content insurance on this, he was only concerned with the structure. However, flood insurance does not consider porches or decks part of the structure, even though they are, obviously, attached. And, if you have a fence that is also connected to your house, forget that completely. He also measures the house.

Home Owners was short and sweet. We had roof damage from the wind and the rain – so they paid for that. It was not much, but every little bit helps. Guess what, he measures the house.

I feel genuinely sorry for Stephen with the car insurance people. I can’t even imagine how many claims he had and how all those people who only had liability spoke to him, but whatever he is getting paid, it cannot be close to enough. They were a little slow in picking up the car, and he really could not help me with a rental, because there were none, but when he finally got around to t, about2 or so weeks late, there was a very quick resolution and I had my money for my car and it was a fair payment.

Now, for the Small Business Administration. If you apply for FEMA, you also need to apply for SBA. The deal is, that if FEMA turns you down, or if they don’t pay you enough, SBA comes into play. Also, if you do not apply to SBA, they cannot turn you down and channel you to grant agencies and so you would not get anything. If they grant your loan, the interest is incredible.

He came by, talked to us and measured the house. When I pointed out to him that three other people had done that and I could share the information he told me he could not do that, but he was glad he had something to compare his measurements to, to be sure they were correct.

With all this activity, why are we broke? Well, FEMA somehow did not put us in for emergency living expenses and since our flood insurance damage estimate so far exceeds theirs, we are not eligible. Needless to say, I am on the war pace with their estimate. SBA cannot give us the loan until we have content insurance, which cannot be written at this point because Congress has not voted on funding the flood insurance program and so everything came to a grinding halt. Which also throws a wrench into people’s plans to rebuild. In order to get an SBA loan you have to have proof of flood insurance and those people who did not have it before now need to get in. Since they just went through what they did, I am certain they would be more than happy to shell out the money, except – they can’t right now. Congress needs to approve the money.

In the meantime, I am putting $16,000 for heat and air and water heaters on credit cards, I pay an extra 2% because the contractor does not feel he should have to pay the credit card charges. I put a huge amount on another credit card, to make up the difference between the money I got for my old car and the purchase price of the new one. I am hoping my other contractor takes more time to finish, because I am not sure I have enough credit left on my cards to pay him. I am so grateful for Music Cares who just sent a check without any strings attached and for the friends who sent money to help out. It is very hard to accept but it helped tremendously.

I feel at home at the Fair Grounds, where all these agencies are set up. People recognize me, I have been there so much.

And then I think about all those people who have full time jobs, or who dropped out of High School. I have no idea how they are able to do all this. It is a full time job just to fill out the paper work. I am not stupid, but I have had to ask for assistance with it. I wonder if the number of people who first applied for a SBA loan and then dropped out had something to do with the paper work. And I also wonder if there is a plot under way to bury you under so much paper work and so many different rules that you just go away.

All in all though, I think this was all handled very well. I questions some of the guidelines these agencies have, but that is for another day. Right now they are helping a lot of people. The state, in my opinion, fell way short and I am still really angry. They are actually making money on my misery. Yuk!

Our local police, fire and other emergency services have done an amazing job. The police especially. They first closed the area to keep idiots away, then they patrolled regularly, then the patrols stopped because no one was here and there was no need. Now that people have gotten permits to rebuild and large amounts of building materials etc. are out in front yards, the patrols have started again and there is a constant presence at both ends of the street.

I am in awe at the spontaneous outpouring of help and good will by perfect strangers. It was almost overwhelming at times. Nashvillians came through with flying colors. Every day volunteers drove down our street handing out water, food and cleaning supplies. Some wanted to pray with us, which I am sure gave a lot of people comfort. Being somewhat of a heathen I generally avoided that, but did get caught once or twice. They also made lists of peoples needs and then sent volunteers to do the work. And they did this for weeks.

So, I am taking away these thoughts:

Think of yourself as a survivor not a victim

Never underestimate the innate goodness in people.

Learn to accept help – it is harder to accept things graciously than to give them. It is a life skill that you need to learn.

You will find out who your friends are – once and for all.

And, most importantly – be careful what you wish for.


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