Sunday, May 01, 2011

A Year of Keeping Their Heads Above Water

Category:  Anniversary

On May 1, 2010 it started raining in Nashville.  That's nothing new.  Spring is filled with rainy days in the Southeast.

The problem is, it didn't stop.

Two days later Nashville was waterlogged.  When the rain finally stopped falling eleven Nashvillians were dead and mile after mile of formerly dry property lay beneath the swollen Cumberland River.  Among the places hit were tourist sites such as the Wildhorse Saloon, the Grand Ole Opry House, the Opryland Hotel, and Opry Mills.  Although the Country Music Hall of Fame was an island, surrounded by the flood waters, it sustained minimal flood damage and reopened immediately after waters receded and the streets reopened.

Nashville media has devoted considerable coverage to the anniversary of this historical event (even as the city sits beneath a flood watch for fear of a cold front stalling over the area).  Many damaged businesses are back to normal (e.g., the Opry, the hotel), while other places will have to endure at least another year before reopening (Opry Mills, once feared damaged beyond repair, will not return before 2012).  The city has recognized that neighborhoods that lay in the flood plain and were destroyed should not be rebuilt.  The houses were demolished and the community turned to green space.

The volunteer spirit that gave Tennessee its nickname was alive and well in the days and weeks following the flood, which allowed the city to start the road to recovery quickly.  Nashville's flood scars will remain visible for years, if not decades, but they will rebound.  One need only look at places that have suffered catastrophic natural disasters in the past to realize this is true.  

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