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FLOOD OF 2010 FIRST DAY OF COVERAGE

SUNDAY, MAY 2, 2010 The deluge begins


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$500 IN COUPONS INSIDE

S U N D AY, M AY 2, 2 0 1 0 • NA S H V I L L E

Just Super

NEWS ON YOUR CELL Text TNNEWS to 44636 (4INFO) for breaking news headlines as they happen.

Jockey wins 3rd Derby in 4 years • 1C

FLOODING IN MIDDLE TENNESSEE

In-depth report

Deluge is ‘only going to get worse’ 5 dead from flooding; more storms are expected today By Jenny Upchurch THE TENNESSEAN

Flooding that killed at least five people, closed interstates and drove thousands from their homes across the state is expected to worsen today, with another storm system moving in and adding to the 10 inches that fell in some areas Saturday. “It’s only going to get worse; we may get as much as 4 to 5 inches more over the next 36 hours,” Mayor Karl Dean said Saturday night. “Stay home, get off the road.” Saturday’s flooding claimed at least one life in Davidson County, one in Williamson, two in Stewart County and one in Carroll County. Closed roads aren’t likely to reopen today. State and local officials will be checking and

INSIDE ■ Storms leave state wet and wounded. On 1B ■ Downtown Lebanon under 2 feet of water. On 5B

ONLINE Go online for more photos and the latest weather news.

>> FLOODING, 13A

Influential Nashvillians, juror join fight to stop execution By Clay Carey Fulya Sobczak, a juror who voted for Gaile Owens to be put to death for killing her husband 25 years ago, now says she made the wrong decision. Today, faced with new information that Gaile Owens may have been a battered woman trapped in a marriage of physical and sexual abuse, Sobczak believes Owens should not be executed. “I really wish I’d had more information,” Sobczak said. “She had abuse issues from her husband. … I feel like she should be given another chance.” The Tennessee Supreme Court upheld the jury’s death sentence, turned down Owens’ appeals and set the 57-year-old woman’s execution date for Sept. 28. The governor is the only one who can save her now, by commuting her death sentence to life in prison. Owens’ case has drawn together a team of

THE TENNESSEAN

influential, well-connected Nashvillians, including the high-powered public relations firm of McNeely Pigott & Fox, former Tennessean newspaper publisher John Seigenthaler Sr., Americana singer-songwriter Marshall Chapman and noted civil rights attorney George Barrett. They are joined by national and statewide women’s organizations in the crusade to save her life. They have taken up her case and her cause without charging the death row inmate one penny. They are motivated for different reasons: Some are against the death penalty and others are convinced Owens is a victim of a legal system that unfairly ignored the abuse she suffered during her 13-year marriage to Ron Owens. Justice is not dispensed equally in Tennes-

Kevin Laney, of Chattanooga, lifts his legs as his car is pulled out of the water onto a flatbed as many cars were partially submerged at the CoolSprings Galleria. SANFORD MYERS / THE TENNESSEAN

Gulf oil spill will affect Nashville restaurants

>> OWENS, 10A

By Bonna Johnson

INSIDE

Enjoy your boiled crawfish now. With the oil spill in the Gulf Coast spreading and the ecological damage still unfolding, there might not be any later. “We’re worried,” said Darrell Breaux, owner of Bro’s Cajun Cuisine on Charlotte Avenue and a native of Lafayette, La. Gulf Coast seafood — oysters, shrimp, crab and redfish — may be in short supply at many restaurants, and prices are already going up, although other regions of the coast and farm-

■ Spill swiftly balloons.

THE TENNESSEAN

FIGHTING FOR CLEMENCY

Gaile Owens’ eldest son, Stephen, estranged for two decades, has come forward to plead for mercy.

Attorney George Barrett, who opposes capital punishment, is representing Owens for free.

Singer/songwriter Marshall Chapman, a friend of Owens, told reporters that “she should be pardoned.”

■ Spill endangers climate bill. ■ A look at what’s next and

how far spill could travel. Stories and map on 4A

raised seafood could partially fill the gap. Overseas companies are also a supplier of much of what is served in Nashville’s restaurants. On Friday morning, Breaux

>> SPILL, 5A

Serpas would leave legacy of crime fighting Some take issue with chief’s tactics By Michael Cass THE TENNESSEAN

After Police Chief Ronal Serpas came to Nashville in 2004, his officers started

WEATHER >> 8B

pulling drivers over more often, using traffic stops as a gateway offense to sniff out bigger crimes. Predictably, this didn’t help him win any popularity contests. Civil libertarians and advocates for Hispanic residents were upset, as were scores of drivers.

76/55, RAIN

But neighborhood activist Carol McCullough believes the results were worth the hassle. “The use of traffic stops has been a concern for some people,” said McCullough, who lives in the Cleveland Park area of East Nashville. “But in my neighborhood there was a

lar but mostly effective law enforcement. Traffic stops more than doubled in his first five years, and the overall crime rate has dropped every year. “He is a very, very good police chief,” Mayor Karl Dean

lot of street-level drug dealing, and now there’s not.” Serpas appears to be one of two remaining candidates still under consideration to become the new police chief in his hometown of New Orleans. If he goes, he’ll leave a legacy of sometimes unpopu-

>> SERPAS, 16A

MS. CHEAP >> 1D Readers share words of wedded wisdom.

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Ronal Serpas could return to lead New Orleans force.


THE TENNESSEAN

FLOODING IN MIDDLE TENNESSEE

SUNDAY, MAY 2, 2010 • 13A

Marven Ortiz and Jose Perez take a break from loading their belongings into vehicle to check on the rising waters of Mill Creek that had already flooded the basement in their Wimpole Drive home. LARRY MCCORMACK / THE TENNESSEAN

FLOOD HELP LINE A car is stuck in high water on Bransford Avenue on Saturday in Nashville. More rain is expected today that could worsen conditions. MANDY LUNN / THE TENNESSEAN

Roads to stay closed with rain today >> FLOODING FROM 1A barricading if more roads become impassable. “Don’t go around a barricade. If you come to high water, stop,” said B.J. Doughty, spokeswoman for the Tennessee Department of Transportation in Nashville. Travel conditions are worsening as major highways close. “The secondary routes could be worse in many locations. We’re running out of alternates,” Doughty said. TDOT will post real-time weather warnings on its SmartWay website, http://ww2.tdot.state.tn.us/, and on highway message boards. More than 20 roads in Davidson County have been closed, and more are impassable or dangerous but have not been barricaded, the mayor’s office said. The I-24 corridor and southeastern Davidson were particularly hard hit. The flooding is almost statewide. “We won’t know the real picture of the damage until the water levels start to go down. We’ve had landslides and (bridges) washed out, so we know there is a significant amount of damage,” said Jeremy Heidt of the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency. “We will begin damage assessment as the water goes down and the sun comes out.” State and Metro crews are mustering all workers. Metro will have 10 boats available for rescues. Floodwaters from Mill Creek caught motorists on a mile-long stretch of I-24 near Bell Road; police recovered the body of one

For those who need help with flooding, including a ride to a shelter, Metro has a hot line, 862-8574. Call 911 in an emergency.

person swept from a vehicle. Metro had carried out more than 50 boat rescues through late Saturday afternoon, including two police officers who were clinging to treetops. If someone lives in a flood-prone area or fears water is rising, he should leave, Metro officials said.

A shelter is open at Lipscomb University Student Activity Center, adjacent to Allen Arena, at 1100 Granny White Pike. Pets are accepted.

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Call for help Metro Police Chief Ronal Serpas urged anyone at risk to call police “so we can prioritize where our responses need to be.” He said police will use helicopters to scout for those needing rescue. Shelters are opening as more people are forced from their homes. Nashville and the Red Cross opened a shelter at David Lipscomb Student Center. It can house about 200 people. People will be allowed to bring pets to the shelters. The Red Cross has also set up shelters at Fairview Recreation Center and the People’s Church on Murfreesboro Road in Franklin. Metro Water Services had 16 storm water workers out Saturday and may pull more in today, clearing drains to try to keep streets from flooding. If there is a safety concern, a road or a house flooding, call 8624600 for immediate help. “A drain may be overflowing even if the drain isn’t clogged,” said spokeswoman Sonia Harvat. “It is just the volume of water is so much. All we can do is block off the street until it’s safe.” If the water is flooding a garage or shed, she said, call, but realize crews may not get to it until the emergency is over.

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Metro Transit is running a special shuttle to the Lipscomb shelter. The bus will pick up at the parking lot of U-Store-It at 1058 Murfreesboro Pike.

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FLOOD OF 2010 SECOND DAY OF COVERAGE

MONDAY, MAY 3, 2010 Death, devastation and rising waters


M O N D AY, M AY 3, 2 0 1 0 • NA S H V I L L E

6 PAGES OF COVERAGE

sub

OVERWHELMED Cumberland keeps rising

Historic flood upends lives

Eleven dead in 5 counties

Andrea Silva and Jamey Howell cling to Howell’s Jeep as flood waters overtake the vehicle at the intersection of Saundersville Road and Lower Station Camp Creek Road in Gallatin. “They looked like they were struggling, and the next thing I know they were being swept away,” said Rick Murray of Hendersonville, who took this photo. “My head is spinning. I wish I hadn’t seen that.” The teenagers were later rescued downstream. RICK MURRAY / FOR THE TENNESSEAN

T

HE RAIN JUST WOULDN’T STOP.

For two days, Tennessee saw roads turn to rivers. Water inundated homes, cars and businesses — leaving some with only their roofs showing like islands. Boats became rescue vehicles. Eleven people died. Thousands were forced to evacuate; others were trapped watching as water crept up their porches. Leaving home became a salvage operation.

The flood of 2010 broke records, shut down highways, cut off power, forced flight cancellations and likely left millions of dollars of damage. Gov. Phil Bredesen has asked for federal disaster relief. Drenched police officers guided people who had no sense or no choice but to be on the roads. Firefighters and emergency workers answered calls nonstop and saved lives. People saw TV sets, shoes, toys and memories drift out their doors. Some lost heart. But neighbors checked on neighbors, churches and colleges opened doors to those with nowhere to go, and people shared advice and misery while waiting for the sun to return. The effects of this devastation will last for days. Rivers are still rising, and cleanup will be tough. Theresa Phillips, who waded out of her Gallatin neighborhood through chest-high water, tried to put the flood into perspective. “I’ve been out there 15 years, and this is the worst. I’m sure we lost everything we have, but we got out alive.” — MEG DOWNEY, THE TENNESSEAN

INSIDE

A car is covered with debris as it and 20 cars and tractor trailers wait to be cleared from Interstate 24 eastbound toward Murfreesboro. The wooden structure to the left is the porch of a building that floated down I-24, according to TDOT workers on the scene. TOM STANFORD / THE TENNESSEAN

DAMAGE by county, on 6A | LIVES IN PERIL and stories of survival, on 7A | RIVERS RISING, map on 8A | WHAT TO DO, on 9A

TENNESSEAN.COM

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6A • MONDAY, MAY 3, 2010

TENNESSEE FLOODS

THE TENNESSEAN

DAMAGE DONE

Residents are evacuated in Fieldstone Farms in Franklin on Sunday. MANDY LUNN / THE TENNESSEAN

Record-breaking flood displaces thousands Mayor declares state of emergency; levee begins leaking By Brad Schrade and Brian Haas THE TENNESSEAN

As darkness set in across the soaked and battered Middle Tennessee region Sunday evening, Nashville began evacuating homes and businesses along the rising Cumberland River. The storms that started Saturday have left 11 dead across the state, including five in Davidson County and one in Williamson County. Thousands of cars, homes and basements are filled with water. Entire neighborhoods are submerged, and hundreds of people are in shelters. Authorities were just beginning to comprehend the damage. Late Sunday, Nashville announced that it was shutting down a water treatment plant and that a levee in MetroCenter along the Cumberland River had begun to leak. After an aerial survey early Sunday evening, Mayor Karl Dean said the damage was worse than he thought. “This situation is going to require a very large recovery process,” Dean said. “The magnitude of the damage to our community was much more than what I expected. … The safety of some of our infrastructure is questionable.” The levee leak near Mainstream Drive forced the evacuation of nearly 500 residents and 150 businesses in the MetroCenter area, north of downtown. In addition, Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center along the Cumberland River evacuated about 1,500 guests to McGavock High School, and some residents in the Pennington Bend area left their homes. Metro officials asked residents to use water only if absolutely necessary. Sonia Harvat, spokeswoman for Nashville’s water department, said the closing of one of the city’s water plants has left only one in operation. The K.R. Harrington Water Treatment Plant had to close because of rising floodwaters. Nashville fire and rescue officials were still searching late Sunday for two young men who went missing after they tried to raft on Mill Creek with inner tubes. A third, 19-year-old man managed to swim to shore after their inner tubes broke apart. The growing concerns capped a two-day period in which a record of more than 13 inches of

Mike and Lee Anne Rochelle and son Michael, 12, bail out their garage on Battery Lane in Nashville on Sunday. DIPTI VAIDYA / THE TENNESSEAN

DAMAGE BY COUNTY, ON 12A rain caused floods that officials deemed the worst in decades. More than 600 water rescues were required in Davidson County alone to fetch stranded motorists and residents. There were scores of similar rescues by emergency officials in other communities across Middle Tennessee. Dean — who declared a state of emergency Sunday morning — said there were many across the city with water-damaged basements and homes, and he urged people to stay home today. “My main concern is the citizens of the city are safe,” Dean said. “I can’t tell people what to do in the private sector, but if there’s ever a day to take things slow and ease into it, (Monday) would be a good one.”

From Memphis to Middle TN With the Cumberland River expected to crest sometime last night at 48 feet — eight feet above the flood level but still several feet below levels that would flood downtown — officials were trying to remain optimistic that the heart of the city would escape a major catastrophe. But areas across Middle Tennessee were not so lucky. Bellevue and Antioch were the hardest hit in Davidson County. Neighborhoods were reported flooded. In Williamson County, Franklin Mayor John Schroer issued a state of emergency and a curfew last night that continued until 6 a.m. today. Parts of the city were flooded Saturday, then the waters receded, only to come back Sunday with more intense rains. Fire Chief Rocky Garzarek said the department’s seven boats had been used in evacuations and res-

cues — the largest in Fieldstone Farms, where rising waters threatened several streets. “It’s kind of a big operation we’ve got going on,” Garzarek said. “We just had a plethora of calls all over the community.” Gov. Phil Bredesen said the damage stretched from Memphis to Middle Tennessee with a cruel randomness that flooded some areas and spared nearby communities. He planned to ask for federal disaster status early this week, which would secure federal funds to help with the recovery. “There is obviously a great deal of property damage,” Bredesen said. “No one is able to assess that at this point. We’re going to have to wait for the waters to go down a bit so we can find out what’s happening.” State properties were not spared. The Jackson Building downtown had water damage, and even the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency’s new command center in South Nashville had some flooding. Bredesen said a number of bridges and roads were damaged, and the process of assessing that will begin today. Relief officials were scrambling to set up 22 shelters that housed 400 people as of Sunday afternoon. Some shelters in Davidson County were full Sunday night. While many went about their business through Saturday’s rain, the 13 inches that fell over a 24hour period brought much of Middle Tennessee’s business to a halt by Sunday. More than 150 roads were shut down Sunday afternoon, including 50 in Davidson County, and flights at Nashville International Airport were severely disrupted. Southwest Airlines canceled all flights mid-

Sunday afternoon, and other airlines were curtailing their schedules. It was unclear how today’s air traffic would be affected. Public schools and colleges throughout the region called off classes for Monday. Hospitals delayed elective surgeries. Three feet of water flooded the first floor of Women’s Hospital at Centennial on Sunday morning, and at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, the fire department was pumping water out of the basement. Metro Transit Authority shut down bus service Sunday morning because too many streets were impassable. Some riders got stranded at the downtown terminal. Buses will not run today. “It’s crazy,” said Ace Groves, tired after working the overnight shift at Walmart. “Tennessee weather is something else.”

Water safety is big concern One of the biggest concerns of those whose homes were spared is the safety of the water supply. A number of districts reported water main breaks and sewage treatment problems. The governor said water systems across the state were affected, and bottled water was in high demand in many districts. Some 1,500 cases had been delivered to Williamson County. Water main breaks in the city of Brentwood and in Humphreys and Maury counties were threatening fresh water supplies to local residents, according to Tisha Calabrese-Benton, spokeswoman for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. Power outages were reported in Middle and West Tennessee. Some 36,000 NES customers in Davidson County were without power, with 16 power lines and 20 poles down countywide. Antioch, Bellevue, Goodlettsville and Opryland had the most outages. Officials said it could be two or three days before power is restored. They won’t know exactly until the floodwaters recede and their repair crews can get to the damaged stations. “It’s hard to gain access to some of the places we need to go,” said NES President Decosta Jenkins. The waters moved with such force and speed that even some rescuers became overwhelmed. Belle Meade police officer Norm Shelton clung to a tree near the Belle Meade Kroger for 90 minutes after floodwaters dragged his squad car away. He hugged Metro officers after they came to his aid in a boat Sunday morning. Later that morning, Amy Dawson and her parents nervously

watched water slowly slip into their River Plantation home. They hoped it would stop rising, but by the time it reached kneedeep, they’d seen enough. They yelled for help at boats that passed along roads they typically drive down. “Seriously, we need to get the rescue people,” she said as she waited for help. Flooding hit Sumner County particularly hard, said Ken Weidner, director of the county’s Emergency Management Agency. “They are bad everywhere, with the exception of the northwest parts of the town,” he said. County Commissioner Shawn Fennell said his phone rang off the hook with reports of flooding, trapped residents and damage. “I don’t think we have ever seen anything like this before,” he said. “There’s just water everywhere.” He said homes were pushed off their foundations, bridges were washed over and roads flooded. A creek that runs near his farm rose 20 feet above its normal height. He said damage assessments were barely under way Sunday evening because the water remained. “We can’t tell how much damage until the water recedes,” Fennell said. “I’m sure it’s going to be catastrophic.” The flooding soaked businesses in downtown Gallatin, which saw several feet of water in some areas. Roger Holland, owner of Roger’s Garden Center on Main Street, knew the flooding was bad when he saw a 1,000-pound topiary float away from his business. “I’ve been here all my life and I’ve never seen this before,” said Holland, 67. “It’s never done this.” He waded through waist-high water to get to his business as he and employees scrambled to move merchandise to higher ground. Rutherford County seemed to have escaped the worst of the storms and flooding. “There hasn’t been any additional flooding today,” said Roger Allen, director of the county’s Emergency Management Agency. “We’re doing damage assessments from yesterday and last night. But most of the water has gone down.” Allen said there were no reported injuries or stories of homes being knocked off their foundations. It was different in La Vergne, said Mayor Ronnie Erwin. He declared the city a disaster Saturday night to get residents quick access to emergency assistance.


THE TENNESSEAN

TENNESSEE FLOODS

MONDAY, MAY 3, 2010 • 7A

LIVES IN PERIL

Flood brings out best in the worst of times After harrowing ordeals, people express gratitude for rescue, shelter By Jennifer Brooks THE TENNESSEAN

For hours Sunday morning, Stephanie Farmer bobbed in the muddy water inside her home, trying to keep her daughter’s head above water. In the attic above huddled her 67-year-old mother, tethered to an oxygen tank, and her 4-yearold granddaughter, waiting for rescue. But her 27-year-old daughter Kasondra, who uses a wheelchair because of her cerebral palsy, couldn’t climb the ladder. So Stephanie Farmer didn’t either. The century floods that swept Middle Tennessee this weekend brought unspeakable tragedy. Emergency officials are struggling to get an accurate death count, but Davidson County confirmed five late Sunday, with one body found in floodwaters, two in a house on Delray Drive and two from a car floating upside down on Sawyer Brown Road. Two people are missing after attempting to raft on Mill Creek floodwaters. Names of the missing and dead weren’t released. There was one death in Williamson County and a total of 11 statewide by late Sunday. Homes and businesses were ruined, cars and possessions swept away by the fast-rising waters. But the disaster also brought out acts of incredible heroism and generosity. “Mom wouldn’t get in the attic because I couldn’t get in the attic,” said Kasondra Farmer, shivering in shock on a pew in the Richland Community Church, up the street from her flooded West Nashville home. “She kept saying ‘I can’t save you. I can’t save you.’ ” But Stephanie Farmer did save her daughter, just like the emergency workers saved her as they steered a boat up to their window, broke through and evacuated the entire family. The nearby Richland Creek had spilled over its banks early Sunday morning, the water rising so fast that Kasondra’s first hint of danger had been her mother’s scream when she looked out the window and saw the water sweeping the cars out of their driveway. Her niece, Mackenzie Simmons, 4, sat on a nearby pew, drawing a picture of her morning. Taking up the blue crayon, she filled one side of the page with watery swirls, then drew a picture of a boat with a little girl inside. “I was in a boat!” she said with a huge grin. “All my toys were floating away.” The scene was repeated over and over again in the tiny neighborhood off Charlotte Pike. Rescue boats trolled the flooded streets, pulling people and pets to safety. Neighbors waded into fastmoving waters to carry elderly and disabled persons to safety. On a bench on the church’s front porch, Cathy Frazier sat, barefoot and soaking wet, but wearing a wide, relieved smile that made it hard to tell that she’d just lost everything she owns in the world. She held tight to the only three things she managed to carry into the rescue boat: her purse and her two dogs, Reba and Hannah Montana. “I was sitting on a dresser,” she said of the hours she spent in her flooded home. She nodded at the sodden dogs. “They were on the bed and the bed was floating around the room.” Around the region, there were nightmare scenes of destruction and heartbreak.

Teens swept away For photographer Rick Murray, the worst moment came as he shot pictures of a pair of teens trapped on the roof of their Jeep in the fast-running river that used to be Station Camp Creek Road in

Ron Dunavant is helped by volunteers and Metro firefighters into a truck’s bed after his home was flooded. Dunavant waited two hours for an ambulance in his West Nashville home on Winn Road Sunday. SHELLEY MAYS / THE TENNESSEAN Gallatin. One minute, he was watching the two through the zoom lens of his camera as the young man struggled to help the girl cling to the roof. The next moment, they were gone. Swept away. “I’ll never forget the looks on the faces of the EMS personnel on the road,” said Murray, who later learned that the youngsters had been rescued with only minor injuries. “I was devastated. I couldn’t believe it.” Andrea Silva, a Beech High School graduate, and Jamey Howell, a soon-to-be Beech High graduate, had been clinging to Howell’s Jeep as flood waters overtook the vehicle at the intersection of Saundersville Road and Lower Station Camp Creek. They were rescued downstream, largely unscathed. Silva was taken to Hendersonville Medical Center with minor injuries. In Sumner County, Mansker, Drakes and Station Camp creeks were all high enough to force temporary road closures. The rushing brown water destroyed fences and submerged bridges. It appeared to have pushed at least one large shed off its foundation. Families forced from their homes found refuge in emergency shelters as the water spilled into neighborhoods around the swollen creeks. More than 50 people found refuge at the Gallatin Civic Center. Many lived on Blade Street, a spur of Red River Road nestled

Millie White 75, waits for family to pick her up from a shelter at Richland Community Church after her West Nashville home was damaged by the flood. SHELLEY MAYS / THE TENNESSEAN

into a bend in Drakes Creek. The water started to rise there around 8 a.m., residents said. Emergency officials came to evacuate two hours later, leading residents through water as high as their waists and chests. “I’ve been out there 15 years, and this is the worst,” said Theresa Phillips. “I’m sure we lost everything we had, but we got out alive.”

Adoption papers saved Robert Benson, his wife and three children waded through the waters around their home in the flooding Fieldstone Farms subdivision, carrying luggage and plastic bags. At least 20 homes in the subdivision had to be evacuated by police and fire rescuers, who floated up to doors in a small boat. “The last hour has been total chaos. There’s been a controlled panic in our house,” Benson said. “The fire department came and asked to evacuate.” Before leaving, they tried to move as much furniture and electronics as possible to the second story. Among the prized possessions they saved: adoption paperwork for a little girl they’re planning to bring home from China within the next month. Emergency workers have been working since Saturday to rescue people from the flood. They aren’t the only ones. Tennessee State University President Melvin Johnson hopped into one of the school’s canoes Sunday morning and rowed to the rescue of a university worker trapped on a haystack by rising waters on the university’s goat farm. He found the trapped faculty member, who had gone out to the farm to try to rescue the goats, and returned him to dry land and on to Baptist Hospital for medical treatment. The Red Cross has opened nine emergency shelters in Middle Tennessee. That doesn’t count all the unofficial shelters that have sprung up across the region as churches, businesses and private citizens opened their doors to those left stranded or homeless. Ten little girls from Ridley, Tenn., ranging in age from 4 to 17, slept on the floor of a Holiday Inn ballroom off Hickory Hollow Road with their seven adult chaperones Saturday night. They were on their way home after an impressive performance at a cake decorating competition in Chattanooga when they hit the gridlock on flooded I-40 on the out-

Ray Brandon gets some possessions out of the Knights motel in East Nashville. JOHN PARTIPILO / THE TENNESSEAN skirts of Nashville. “We’re drenched, but God takes care of us,” said Mary Adkins, one of the chaperones, as the group made its way into the Richland Community Church. The church wasn’t an official shelter, but nearby neighbors had thrown open the doors and raided the church’s food pantry and clothing donation box to offer what comfort they could to the traumatized residents of the flooded neighborhood. Jerry Baker waited on the church’s porch, holding his dachshund, Fancy. The house he and his wife have lived in for 40 years was completely flooded. “I lost everything I own,” he said. The only things they managed to salvage were their car, each other and the dog. “When the water got up to the foot of my windows, we just got out of there,” he said, smiling despite his losses. “It’s just one of those

things. This is life. The good news is: If these are 50-year rains, I only have to go through this once.”

Some won’t leave Others dismissed the idea of getting to shelter, even as floodwaters inched toward their doors. Around 4 p.m., police and fire crews were working to evacuate residents from Maplewood Manor Mobile Home Park in Smyrna. Many had transportation and were able to get out, while several in the back of the park — where water came up to emergency workers’ thighs — refused to leave. “If they don’t leave, the Smyrna Rescue Squad will have to come in and get them,” Smyrna Police Sgt. Andy Miller said. Reporters Heidi Hall, Mitchell Kline, Juanita Cousins, Chas Sisk and Mealand RaglandHudgins contributed. Contact Jennifer Brooks at 615-259-8892 or jabrooks@tennessean.com.

“I can’t save you. I can’t save you.” STEPHANIE FARMER TO HER DAUGHTER IN A WHEELCHAIR, just before rescue boats came up to their first-floor window


THE TENNESSEAN

8A • MONDAY, MAY 3, 2010

TENNESSEE FLOODS RIVERS RISE

Flood may worsen as rivers keep rising ‘There is no comparison to anything we have ever done’

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By Juanita Cousins

Kraft St.

THE TENNESSEAN

Nashville

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Although the rain may stop, some parts of already swollen rivers and creeks in the Nashville area could crest today before starting to subside, causing a safety hazard with flooding, debris and sewage. The Harpeth River, Mill Creek and Richland Creek are moving record amounts of water into the Cumberland River. By 7:30 p.m. Sunday, the Cumberland had already risen to 47.55 feet in downtown Nashville, with water lapping more than 20 feet over Riverfront Park Deck and submerging parts of the Ghost Ballet sculpture near LP Field. Tourists were evacuated from First Avenue downtown Sunday night. Flooding along the Cumberland is expected to worsen today in Clarksville, where the river had topped flood stage Sunday night by more than eight feet. The Army Corps of Engineers is releasing some if its largest volumes ever of water from Old Hickory Lake into the Cumberland — 150,000 cubic feet per second, exceeding the March 1975 record. “There is no comparison to anything we have ever done before,” said Corps of Engineers hydraulic engineer Hershel Whitworth. “The (Old Hickory Lock and Dam) is in no danger of failing, but releasing too much water would lead to flooding, which would knock the dam out of serv-

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ice and limit our ability to regulate short-term flow.” Flooding is expected to continue along the Harpeth River. In Bellevue, the river reached 27.03 feet at 5 a.m. Sunday, well over the last historical crest of 24.38 feet in 1948, according to the National Weather Service. Mill Creek, which runs

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Wildlife endangered “The main impact for the river is that many of the combined sewer systems most likely have flooded in areas of Mill Creek, Richland Creek and Harpeth watershed,” said Vena Jones, Cumberland River Compact program director. Cars, garbage cans, construction material, garden tools and anything that was left outside when waters began to rise will be swept into the Cumberland River.

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brought a steady crowd of onlookers to both banks as the water climbed to within a few feet of Titans Way. The muddy water flowed over a dock and appeared to have pushed over a boathouse and walkway. Mike Kassen, an East Nashville resident who has lived in the city 33 years, came by twice Sunday to take photographs. “I’ve seen it go up to one level of steps below the top of Riverfront Park,” he said. “Nothing like this.” Contact Juanita Cousins at 615-2598287 or jcousins@tennessean.com. Staff writer Chas Sisk contributed.

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Sewage in the river would lead to increasing amounts of dead fish. “It must be difficult for the wildlife, and especially the fish. It is crazy for them to have floating debris in their river, along with pollutants like silt and whatever is in runoff,” Jones said. The National Weather Service estimated the Cumberland would not fall to below flood stage at 40 feet in Nashville until at least Tuesday. In downtown Nashville, the unusual sight of the flooded Cumberland

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THE TENNESSEAN

MONDAY, MAY 3, 2010 • 9A

TENNESSEE FLOODS WHAT TO DO

INSURANCE Here are telephone numbers to file claims with some of the largest home insurers in Tennessee. ■ State Farm Fire and Casualty Co., 1-800-7325246 ■ Farm Bureau Insurance, 1-800-836-6327 ■ Allstate Insurance Co., 1-800-767-7619 ■ Nationwide Insurance Co., 1-800-421-3535 ■ Traveler’s Insurance Co., 1-800-252-4633 ■ Farmers Insurance Group 1-800-435-7764 ■ USAA (United Services Auto Association), 1-800-531-8111 ■ Foremost Insurance Co., 1-800-527-3907 Here are tips about from the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance on interacting with insurance companies. ■ Locate a copy of your policy and read through it. ■ Contact your insurance carrier or your agent as soon as possible after damage. ■ Make a thorough inventory of all missing or damaged items. ■ Take pictures inside and out for documentation before repairs are made. ■ Secure and protect your property against further rain or other damage without making permanent repairs, so an adjustor can see the full extent of damage. ■ Keep receipts for any expenses required to protect your property from further damage. ■ Follow the claims-filing procedure set forth in your policy. If there is a dispute, follow the company’s dispute process. ■ Settlement offers from insurers can be negotiated. You don’t have to take the first offer. ■ If you have issues with an insurance company, call the Department of Commerce and Insurance at 1-800-342-4029. ■ Avoid unscrupulous, unlicensed contractors who take advantage of homeowners anxious to rebuild after disasters by hiring only licensed contractors. Consumers may verify a license status by calling 1-800-544-7693 or checking online at http://licsrch. state.tn.us/. For noninsurance issues, call the Consumer Affairs hot line, 1-800-342-8385.

AFTER A FLOOD The Federal Emergency Management Agency offers the following guidelines. ■ Avoid floodwaters; water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline or raw sewage. Water may also be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines. ■ Avoid moving water. ■ Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded. Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car. ■ Stay away from downed power lines, and report them to your local power company.

RETURNING HOME ■ Return home only when authorities indicate it is safe. ■ Stay out of any building if it is surrounded by floodwaters. ■ Before re-entering your home, walk around the outside to check for loose power lines, gas leaks and structural damage. If you have any doubts about safety, don’t go in. ■ If you smell gas, do not enter. Call your local gas company immediately from a neighbor’s home. ■ Use caution when entering, as the foundation could be damaged or floorboards could be loose. ■ Service damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits and leaching systems as soon as possible. Damaged sewage systems are serious health hazards. ■ Clean and disinfect everything that got wet. Mud left from floodwater can contain sewage and chemicals. ■ Check for sparks and broken or frayed wires. Check the electrical system unless you are wet or standing in water. If possi-

ble, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. Do not turn on the lights until you are sure they’re safe to use. Unplug appliances and let them dry out. ■ If pipes are damaged, turn off the main water valve. Pump out wells and have the water tested by authorities before drinking. Do not flush toilets until you know that sewage lines are intact. ■ If your basement has flooded, pump it out gradually (about one-third of the water per day) to avoid damage. The walls may collapse and the floor may buckle if the basement is pumped out while the surrounding ground is still waterlogged.

FOOD SAFETY

4110 for information. ■ Flooding victims can also call the Red Cross at 250-4300 to find help.

activities and after handling articles contaminated with floodwater or sewage. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to wash your hands if you have a limited supply of clean water.

HOW TO HELP

FLOOD HELP LINE ■ For those who need help with flooding, including a ride to a shelter, Metro has a hot line, 8628574. ■ Call 911 in an emergency. ■ Several shelters are open throughout the area, including the Al Menah Shrine Center and Lipscomb University in Nashville, Bellevue Middle School, the Jewish Community Center in the Bellevue area, Grace United Methodist Church in Mt.

If you lost power because of weekend flooding, some of your food may be unsafe to eat. Here are some guidelines to follow so you don’t get sick in the aftermath of these storms — or a future one. ■ While the power is out, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. ■ Never taste food to determine its safety. Some foods may look and smell fine, but if they’ve been at room temperature too long, they may harbor bacteria and toxins that can’t be destroyed by cooking. ■ Throw away any food that came into contact with floodwaters, including containers with screw caps, twist caps and homecanned goods. ■ Discard any perishables — meat, poultry, fish, eggs, leftovers — that have been above 40° F for two hours or more. If you’re not sure a particular food is cold enough, determine its temperature with a food thermometer. ■ Toss any food that has an unusual odor, color or texture or feels warm to the touch. ■ Eat perishable foods from the refrigerator and freezer first if they are still below 40° F. ■ Thawed food that contains ice crystals or is 40° F or below can be refrozen or cooked. ■ Eat nonperishables and canned foods after your perishable food must be discarded. ■ Throw away canned foods that are bulging, opened or damaged ■ Get dry or block ice to keep your refrigerator as cold as possible during a prolonged power outage.

Neighbors carry Janie Cramen to an ambulance after she was rescued by boat from her West Nashville home. Cramen is on oxygen. SHELLEY MAYS / THE TENNESSEAN Juliet, Smyrna Town Center in Smyrna, College Hills Church of Christ in Lebanon and People’s Church

in Franklin. ■ Ray of Hope Church, 901 Meridian St., is also offering shelter. Call 227-

Compiled by Karen-Lee Ryan, The Tennessean

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WATER SAFETY During a flood, water can become contaminated with microorganisms such as bacteria, sewage, agricultural or industrial waste, chemicals and other substances that can cause illness or death. While there were no reports of Middle Tennessee drinking water supplies being contaminated because of flooding, keep these water safety tips in mind. ■ Follow public announcements about water safety. ■ If water is deemed unsafe, use only bottled, boiled or treated water for drinking, cooking or preparing food, washing dishes, cleaning, brushing your teeth, washing hands, making ice and bathing. ■ Boiling water for one minute will kill most harmful bacteria and parasites, but not chemical contaminants. If you believe water is contaminated, drink only bottled water. ■ If you can’t boil water, treat it with chlorine tablets, iodine tablets or unscented household chlorine bleach (1/8 teaspoon per gallon of clear water; for cloudy water, use 1/4 teaspoon per gallon). Mix thoroughly and let it stand for 30 minutes before drinking or using. ■ If you have a well that may be contaminated, contact your local or state health department or agriculture extension agent for specific advice. ■ Practice basic hygiene, washing hands with soap and bottled, boiled or disinfected water. Wash hands before preparing food or eating, after toilet use, after participating in clean-up

■ Hands On Nashville is organizing volunteers to help with flood recovery. Call 298-1108 or sign up at http://www.hon.org/ AboutUs/index.php/disaster/FloodMay2010.html. ■ Financial donations can be made through the Community Foundation at www.cfmt.org. ■ In Wilson County, the Lebanon/Wilson County Chamber of Commerce is coordinating volunteer cleanup efforts. To get or offer help, call 444-5503.

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12A • MONDAY, MAY 3, 2010

THE TENNESSEAN

TENNESSEE FLOODS WIDESPREAD IMPACT

sub

Flood damages create travel havoc

COUNTY ROUNDUP DAVIDSON

By Tracie Simer

THE JACKSON SUN

² Five deaths reported as of Sunday night, and two men missing. ² Six hundred water rescues. ² A levee near Mainstream Drive in MetroCenter began leaking and the city began evacuating more than 500 residents and 150 businesses in the area. ² The city shut down K.R. Harrington Water Treatment Plant and urged Davidson County residents to use water only for essential purposes. ² Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, on the banks of the Cumberland River, evacuated guests. Police evacuated First Avenue in downtown Nashville. ² More than 50 roads closed Sunday. ² 36,000 people without power; Nashville Electric Service estimated two to three days to recover. ² Three shelters set up: Lipscomb University, Gordon Jewish Community Center near Bellevue, and Bellevue Middle School. ² Low water pressure in some communities. ² Some downtown parking lots under 4 feet of water. ² Southwest Airlines canceled all flights in and out of Nashville after 3 p.m., mainly because of dangers getting to and from airport.

As the rain continued in West Tennessee on Sunday, people from across the region faced a new challenge Sunday: finding a safe way home. Keith Reynolds and his family went to Three Way on Saturday to see his daughter’s new home and ended up staying the night because flooding on every major roadway prevented travel, he said. “We tried alternate routes, but the state police kept turning us around,” he said Sunday. “This morning we tried to get home and were stopped by the National Guard. I asked how to get to Jackson, and the guy laughed and said, ‘There’s no way you’re getting into Jackson today.” Reynolds prepared to wade across the water and hike home, but the water receded enough for him to drive home, he said. Several highways, including U.S. 45, State Route 54 and U.S. 70 had patches of road underwater or washed away. U.S. 412 became the only way for people from neighboring communities and counties to reach each other, accord-

Donald Sweat and Sarah Tippett take photos of a railroad bridge that was washed off its foundation when floods swelled a creek that leads to the Lebanon square. Flooding restricted travel throughout the state. LARRY MCCORMACK / THE TENNESSEAN ing to local Emergency Management Agency officials. Emergency officials spent much of Sunday rescuing stranded motorists and residents. Today marks the beginning of long-term cleanup and damage assessment, said JacksonMadison County Emergency Management Agency Director Marty Clements. “It may be one, two, three days before everything

opens up again,” he said. “Places where the water is supposed to drain to (are) also underwater. More debris is filling up the roads. This is not just an overnight deal.”

Tornado blasts home A three-mile-long tornado lifted a mobile home on Tomlinson Road in Hardeman County off its foundation and threw it 15 feet, smashing it to pieces.

Inside the home were 67year-old Liz Buxton, her son and granddaughter. Buxton died from her injuries. The son and granddaughter were buried under rubble and later were released from the hospital with broken bones. Johnny Bates, 81, of Carroll County, died from drowning on Saturday after his car was washed away on State Route 79, six miles south of McKenzie, according to county coroner Steve

Cantrell. A Gibson County man is missing after being swept up in floodwaters Saturday, according to local officials. Carroll County had a few tornado warnings early Sunday but no tornadoes were reported, said Terry Bradshaw with the county EMA. “The damage was mainly roads and bridges washed out, homes and businesses flooded,” he said. “Right now we’re in recovery operations, and we’ll try to identify all the bridges that are out and the roads that are impassible.” Crockett County EMA Director Joe Jones said it was impossible to get out of the county Sunday, with U.S. 412 being inaccessible to most in the area. Jim Branda with the National Weather Service in Memphis said weekend rainfall amounts ranged from 6.5 inches to 11 inches in Madison County. Jackson’s weekend total was 10 inches, he said. Starting today, skies should be sunny and temperatures will be in the high 80s through the week, Branda said. Mariann Martin and Stanley Dunlap contributed to this story. Reach Tracie Simer at tsimer@jacksonsun.com.

RUTHERFORD ² Closed about 40 roads because of rising flood waters, said Tim Hooker, assistant director of Rutherford County’s Emergency Management Agency. ² Heaviest damage reported in northern parts of county. ² About 60 residents evacuated from Maplewood Manor mobile home park. ² Shelters open at La Vergne’s multipurpose building behind City Hall, Miracle and First Baptist churches, and at the Smyrna Town Centre. Only about five people were in shelters as of Sunday evening.

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SUMNER ² Homes were pushed off their foundations, bridges were washed over and roads flooded, said County Commissioner Shawn Fennell. ² Drakes, Mansker and Station Camp creeks were all well over flood stage. ² Downtown Gallatin businesses saw several feet of water in some areas. ² Two teens were rescued from Station Camp Creek after flash flooding overtook their vehicle. ² More than 80 people were evacuated and taken to temporary shelter.

WILLIAMSON ² Two hundred twentyfive rescues reported in Franklin. ² At least 20 homes in Fieldstone Farms subdivision evacuated by rescuers in small boats. ² Thirty-seven Franklin roads closed. ² Franklin curfew required residents to stay home from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. ² Mudslide blocked portions of U.S. 31A-41A in Kirkland community. ² Landslides blocked Holly Tree Gap between Brentwood and Franklin, and New Highway 96 East near Natchez Trace Parkway. ² More than 100 Brentwood houses affected by water damage. ² Water system temporarily down in southern parts of Brentwood.

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FLOOD OF 2010 THIRD DAY OF COVERAGE

TUESDAY, MAY 4, 2010 Devastation spreads, water supply threatened


T U E S D AY, M AY 4, 2 0 1 0 • NA S H V I L L E

FLOOD OF 2010

SWAMPED

CP

DEVASTATION SPREADS IN RAIN’S WAKE

The Pennington Bend neighborhood near Opryland was inundated with floodwaters on Monday afternoon. SAMUEL M. SIMPKINS / THE TENNESSEAN

13 PAGES OF COVERAGE THE DISASTER

■ Governor seeks federal aid ■ Landmarks flooded ■ Water walls off neighborhoods ■ Damage across the counties ■ Life in a shelter ■ Health, coping tips TENNESSEAN.COM / FLOOD

PHOTOS: Devastation in downtown Nashville, aerial shots around the region VIDEOS: Cumberland River still rising, damage at Opryland Hotel, water filling LP Field INTERACTIVE MAP: Report flood damage in your area with SeeClickFix. NEWS ALERTS: Sign up for breaking news alerts sent to your e-mail or cell phone UPDATES: Continuously updated coverage throughout the cleanup

Metro water supply is threatened

Opryland crippled; tourism hurt By Bonna Johnson THE TENNESSEAN

The weekend’s historic floods struck Nashville’s tourism industry at its heart, taking out a signature hotel and other attractions just as the city enters its peak summer visitor season. ² The flooded Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center won’t reopen for several months, leaving Nashville without 12 percent of its hotel rooms and wiping out as much as a fourth of the convention business that comes to town. ² Honky-tonks and shops along Lower Broadway and on Second Avenue, including the Wildhorse Saloon and Hard Rock Cafe, closed Monday and didn’t know when they would reopen because of flooding in their basements. ² Water damage also shut down major tourist attractions including the Grand Ole Opry and Opry Mills shopping center, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

>> TOURISM, 10A

By Brad Schrade and Nate Rau THE TENNESSEAN

On a day when the Cumberland River continued to rise, crippling Middle Tennessee neighborhoods, businesses and several of Nashville’s iconic music, sports and tourist spots, the most critical threat Monday night was that floodwaters would knock out the city’s drinking supply. The river crested downtown at close to 52 feet Monday evening — 24 hours after the initial prediction, and four feet higher than expected. That was the highest it has been since 1937. As sandbag crews worked furiously into the evening, the city’s remaining water treatment plant, just east of downtown on Omohundro Drive, was perilously close to being flooded. Such a turn would cast the historic flood of 2010 into a new level of crisis for more than 600,000 residents across Davidson County, and Brentwood, which relies on Metro’s water. “The next 24 hours are critical,” said Scott Potter, head of Metro Water Services. “If the Omohundro goes down, we go to bottled water.”

The Cascades portico of the Opryland Hotel had an estimated 10-19 feet of water. For more information on Opryland, see page 11A. JOHN PARTIPILO / THE TENNESSEAN

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4A • TUESDAY, MAY 4, 2010

FLOOD OF 2010

THE TENNESSEAN

ASSESSING THE DAMAGE

Cars are piled on top of one another after flooding on Antioch Pike near Blue Hole Road. The road has been closed to the public. SHELLEY MAYS / THE TENNESSEAN

Nashville water supply threatened ville spirit to get it cleaned,” he said.

>> DAMAGE FROM PAGE 1A Nashville’s other water treatment plant, K.R. Harrington, was overtaken by floodwaters Sunday, and officials have not been able to get near the Donelson-area facility to assess the damage. The plant outage had pushed Mayor Karl Dean to urge residents to cut water consumption in half, limiting use to essential tasks. “I can’t underscore the seriousness of this,” the mayor said.

Cities wait for for river’s crest

Water problems widespread Water problems were not confined to Metro. Residents in Cheatham, Williamson and Davidson who receive water from the Harpeth Valley Utilities District were also told to take steps to conserve water. That system was operating on generator power, and officials are asking residents to use water only for drinking, bathing and cooking. In what turned out to be an otherwise sunny spring day, the state’s death toll continued to rise, with the storm claiming 18 lives across the state. Ten of those lost were in Davidson County. And as homeowners and officials began trying to assess the damage to homes, buildings and roads, it was clear that the price tag for the storm was going to be high — with estimates ranging from hundreds of millions to billions of dollars. With the waters still on the rise, officials were still largely in rescue mode across the region. “Anybody who gets in a helicopter, you can see it’s enormous,” said Gov. Phil Bredesn, who formally requested federal emergency assistance while touring the 52-county disaster area. “It’s a lot of damage. This is not $5 million. This is going to be a very, very expensive thing.” Many of downtown Nashville’s most prominent buildings such as the Bridgestone Arena, the Schermerhorn Symphony Center and the Pinnacle Building suffered flood damages. U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper guessed damages would reach the “multibillion-dollar” level. “This isn’t just a 100-year flood,” Cooper said. “People are now saying this could be a 500- or 1,000year flood.” Another potentially devastating problem hanging over the city was a leaking levee at MetroCenter, north of downtown. State and Metro workers were placing sandbags along the levee at Mainstream Drive on Monday night. The residents and businesses in the area were evacuated. Among the businesses threatened was Second Harvest food bank, which had millions of dollars worth of food stored in a warehouse. “If the levee should breach and the water does go into the MetroCenter, I can’t estimate the damage in terms of cost of property or the potential damage to life,” Dean said. “But, we do believe that potential is there and that’s why we ordered an evacuation.” Red Cross officials estimated that 2,000 people were in shelters across Tennessee at one point as a result of flooding. They were unsure of the number in Middle Tennessee, but there were four shelters in Davidson County. Other churches and community centers opened makeshift shelters

T. W. Hale helps his friends vacuum water out of the Pilcher Building in downtown Nashville as flood waters continued to rise Monday morning. JOHN PARTIPILO / THE TENNESSEAN

Vu Nguyen cleans mud out of his garage after his home received more than a foot of water inside at the Somerset Farms development off of Coley Davis Road in Bellevue. SANFORD MYERS / THE TENNESSEAN on their own. Also Monday, many residents across Nashville were still without power. Nashville Electric Service saw outages top 42,000 at the height of this weekend’s storms. That number had dropped to just under 9,000 by the evening, which constituted nearly half of the 22,000 households across the state with lost power. “We think we can get most of our customers back within two to three days,” said NES spokeswoman Laurie Parker. For about 7,000 customers in Bellevue and an additional 1,000 in Antioch, areas with extensive flooding of homes and NES substations, the power could be out much longer. Dozens of businesses downtown and along the Cumberland River, including those in MetroCenter, requested power shutoffs because of dangerous flooding. “It’s hard to keep up with,” Parker said. Schools will continue to be dis-

rupted today. Metro Schools will again be closed, with more than 50 schools damaged, although none is considered major. Other school systems that are closed include Rutherford, Sumner, Wilson, and Cheatham counties. Williamson County Schools will open two hours late.

Many areas are underwater From the air, the pervasiveness of the flood comes into focus. Whole streets and neighborhoods are underwater. Shopping centers, like Opry Mills, are submerged, and industrial businesses along the river had equipment tossed and twisted around by the river’s current. There were stretches where all that could be seen was a lonely farmhouse roof poking from the waters. Some of Nashville’s key landmarks, including the Grand Ole Opry House, Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, the Country Music Hall of Fame, and

LP Field, were filled with muddy, debris-strewn waters. Opryland said it would close its hotel and convention business for several months, while the Grand Ole Opry would temporarily move to the Ryman Auditorium. Tom Turner, president and CEO of the Nashville Downtown Partnership, said officials are still evaluating possible damage to downtown tourist attractions. Downtown saw waters rise Monday because of rainwater continuing to drain from higher areas, not necessarily because of the Cumberland River’s rise. Turner expected areas along the river to remain closed until the waters fully recede. But as he spoke, he said businesses on Second Avenue were open and music was being played on Broadway. He said that though there will be inconveniences downtown in the coming days during the cleanup, the city is poised for recovery. “We’ll have to use that Nash-

The National Weather Service said Nashville crested Monday evening, but cities downriver on the Cumberland, such as Ashland City, Clarksville and Dover, may still have their worst days ahead. The crest in those places was expected today and possibly Wednesday. In Clarksville, the waters on Monday were already 15 feet above flood levels. The Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the dam system that is designed to control the flow of waters along the Cumberland and its tributaries, said the storm was the most intense since the dam system was completed more than three decades ago. As the storms pushed in from the west on Saturday, they dumped water in the lower parts of the river, creating a backstop, which offered nowhere for the waters to go as the storm pushed east. More than 15 inches were dumped within a two-day period, pushing the storm into a thousand year event. Bob Sneed, the Army Corps’ chief of water management for the river, said he started to grow worried Saturday when the storms kept pouring rain. Two critical areas that pushed the system to the limit were the Harpeth River and the waters behind Old Hickory Dam. The Corps does not control flow along the Harpeth, which brought swift, flooding waters downstream to areas like Bellevue. The Old Hickory pool is relatively shallow and cannot hold amounts of water like what came down over the weekend. So the Corps had to release water through the dam or risk overflow, which could damage the structure and even cause a catastrophic failure. “The whole storm was more than we expected in terms of the volume,” Sneed said. “It filled up the river. You run out of places to put the water.” The Cornelia Fort Airpark, which had sat in a bend along the Cumberland in East Nashville for nearly seven decades, was submerged Monday morning. Bill Colbert Jr. stared in disbelief at what was left of the airfield his father helped start in December 1944. Colbert is 70 and said he can’t recall the waters ever getting this high, even during the heavy floods in the 1970s. About 20 to 25 planes were on the field Saturday when the rains started, and the water came down so hard and fast that there was no way to get them out. The taxiway and runway were covered. While the field is for small and commuter planes, some were worth more than a $1 million, and Colbert said the destruction was so severe that he wasn’t sure the field, already struggling, would be able to continue. “A total loss,” Colbert said. “It’s heartbreaking. That’s all I can say. Somebody put’s his whole life into an organization. Now look at it.” Staff Writers Jaime Sarrio, Andy Humbles and Brian Haas contributed to this story. Information from The Associated Press was also used.


THE TENNESSEAN

FLOOD OF 2010

TUESDAY, MAY 4, 2010 • 5A

LANDMARKS UNDER WATER

Belle Meade landmark ST. GEORGE’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH, 104 Belle Meade Blvd., was flooded throughout the ground floor, including the sanctuary, chapel and offices. Water ran through parts of the church on Monday morning — up to 18 inches in the kindergarten. Workers began on Monday to move furniture and materials to higher ground. Belle Meade Police Department set up a command center on the second floor of the church since city hall, next door to the church, was also flooded, said Belle Meade City Manager Beth Reardon.

ALAN POIZNER / FOR THE TENNESSEAN

THE SCHERMERHORN SYMPHONY CENTER, a

$123.5 million structure that opened in 2006, lost two Steinway Grand Pianos and a $2.5 million organ. The basement, which includes the kitchen, some office space and other storage areas, was flooded nearly to its ceiling late Monday. The center has been forced to rethink upcoming concerts at least for the next month and is working with other venues to reschedule, including the unaffected Ryman Auditorium. LARRY MCCORMACK / THE TENNESSEAN

LP FIELD, home of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans and the Tennessee State University Tigers, saw rising water on its athletic surface, nearly reaching the first row of seats. When a nearby electrical substation shut down, it cut power to the stadium’s water pumps. The service entrance and playing field, at the stadium’s lowest point, both flooded. Completed in 1999, LP Field seats 68,798 fans. The Tennessee Titans’ practice facility at MetroCenter was threatened with rising waters but has not received any damages, team officials said. SUBMITTED PHOTO

THE COUNTRY MUSIC HALL OF FAME AND MUSEUM was closed Monday with five feet

of water in one lower-level mechanical room. That flooding seeped into the loading area for the subterranean Ford Theater, but all the exhibits are safe, said spokeswoman Liz Thiels. The Hall of Fame and Museum opened in 1967 but moved into its $37 million landmark structure in 2001. LARRY MCCORMACK / THE TENNESSEAN

Parts of the luxurious GAYLORD OPRYLAND HOTEL and the adjoining Grand Ole Opry House are under 10 feet of water. It is too early to assess the monetary damage, but it could be months before the hotel is restored and open for business, said Peter Weien, senior vice president and general manager of the hotel. Almost all of the 2,881 rooms in the hotel are undamaged, but the common areas are destroyed. The Opry has moved a Tuesday performance to the War Memorial Auditorium in downtown Nashville. JOHN PARTIPILO / THE TENNESSEAN


FLOOD OF 2010

6A • TUESDAY, MAY 4, 2010

THE TENNESSEAN

NEIGHBORHOOD CHALLENGES

Many not insured for floods

By Naomi Snyder

THE TENNESSEAN

Hundreds of homeowners and businesses impacted by the floods in the Nashville area are calling their insurance companies and finding they are not covered. Although mortgage companies typically require homeowners buy flood insurance in high-risk flood zones, many people outside those areas are finding out they’ve been flooded, too. That is true throughout the region, including hardhit Bellevue neighborhoods such as Riverwalk, where Metro council member Bo Mitchell said he would be shocked if any of roughly 150 homes damaged in his subdivision have any flood insurance. One of them is Julie Oaks, who works for the state Department of Transportation and whose new home in Riverwalk is now flooded. “I’ve cried,’’ she said. “I’m angry and now I’m just ready for this to recede so I can get in and get to work.” She has no idea what the

damage will cost. She spent the night at a neighbor’s house with her two dogs as floodwaters rose up the street and over the top of her porch. Oaks said she talked to neighbors before she and her husband bought their lot, and no one had ever had flood damage in the area. Still, she considered the week before calling her insurance agent, just to check into flood insurance. Now, it’s too late. A few inches of water in the home can cost tens of thousands of dollars, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Businesses are equally at risk — because they have to pay for flood insurance separately from their standard policies as well. A typical flood policy for a homeowner can cost anywhere from $200 to more than $1,000 per year on top of the costs for a regular homeowner policy. FEMA says that onequarter of businesses that close because of a flood never reopen, with an average flood damage cost of

more than $33,000 per business. Barrett Hobbs, who owns the Scoreboard Bar and Grill on Music Valley Drive near the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, said water is creeping into his restaurant and he doesn’t have flood insurance. “The river is rising but no one around here seems to know what’s going on,’’ he said. Leighton G. Bush of Bush Insurance & Financial Services in Nashville said he had gotten about 100 phone calls as of Monday morning from clients who had damage but no flood insurance. A spokesman for the state Department of Commerce and Insurance said the agency had gotten about 100 phone calls Monday morning and expected double that by the end of the day. However, many employees couldn’t get to work because two downtown buildings flooded during the course of the day, the Davy Crockett building and the Andrew Johnson building.

INSURANCE

Insurance agents and consumer advocates said property owners should: ■ Call your agent right away. The sooner you call, the sooner you’ll get a claim handled. ■ Document and photograph your losses. Don’t throw anything away until the insurance adjuster gets there. Remove it to the outside of the house if need be. ■ Take notes on when you called the insurance agency, what was said and to whom you spoke. ■ Repair what needs to be repaired right away. Clean up water to avoid the growth of mold.

State seeks federal aid Gov. Phil Bredesen formally asked the president Monday to issue a disaster declaration. If approved, FEMA assistance could cover losses not paid for by insurance, temporary housing and low-interest loans. “Most people say I don’t need (flood insurance),’’ said Rich Ford, the president of the insurance brokerage Hylant Group’s Nashville office. “The reality is for 100 years, they don’t. This happens to be the year they did.” Comprehensive auto insurance normally does

cover flood damage for cars. But that’s not true for homeowner’s insurance. Dennis Johnson Sr., a 61year-old in Smyrna, knew he didn’t have flood insurance. His ground floor flooded on Saturday. “We just never get this kind of water,’’ he said. “But it could have been worse. Life will go on.” He went out and bought a pump for $1,000 to get water out of the house, and isn’t sure what replacing all the carpets and furniture will cost. His backyard still looks like a pond. Members of the Smyrna high school football team

helped him clean up the house and local churches came by and offered food for the family, he said. Insurance agents said there could be mold problems ensuing in the days and weeks following the flood, especially if water isn’t cleaned up right away. That mold also isn’t covered by many policies, including State Farm Insurance and Farm Bureau Insurance of Tennessee. It was unclear Monday exactly how much damage the area could sustain, and in fact, the Cumberland River was still rising Monday and more areas were flooding into late afternoon. Ford said the disaster comes at a particularly tough time in the economy, when homeowners and businesses have watched the values of their properties fall and might be more willing to abandon them to foreclosure rather than pay the expense of repair. “It could be at such a point that people walk away,’’ he said. Contact business reporter Naomi Snyder at 259-8284 or nsnyder@tennessean.com

Thousands wonder how to recover By Chris Echegaray, Will Ayers, Harriet Vaughn THE TENNESSEAN

Floodwaters were chest high on Donald Thompson and Linda Russell as their refrigerator and other belongings floated around them in their condo on General George Patton Road in River Plantation. Rescuers saved the Bellevue couple Sunday, but Monday brought new a new set of worries. “We’re exhausted,” Russell said. “We nearly drowned. We’re over 50 years old and we were told there was no flooding in River Plantation. I can’t even think about this. What are we going to do?” The couple’s fears reflected the uncertainty facing thousands of Nashville residents who struggled to survive the historic flooding in Davidson County. Many neighborhoods in Bellevue, Antioch and North Nashville were still underwater Monday. Some 13,077 NES customers are without power in Davidson County; 7,500 in Bellevue and 1,000 in Antioch. Pockets of North Nashville were left without electricity, and crews had to cut power completely to Metro Center because of safety concerns. Laurie Parker, NES spokeswoman, said transformers were floating off the foundations. Power will not be restored until the water recedes, Parker said. It is unclear how many homes have been damaged or destroyed.

Bellevue Entire subdivisions are under water and residents are still being rescued from their homes in Bellevue, where the Harpeth River surged over its banks. “There is an unimaginable toll in Bellevue,” said Metro Councilman Bo Mitchell as he watched people being rescued from the Riverwalk subdivision. “Yesterday, people worried about their lives and the lives of their loved ones,” Mitchell said. “Today, people are returning and everything is under water. They’re calling their insurance companies and being told, ‘That’s too bad.’ ” Mitchell said Bellevue residents were waiting on word about federal recovery efforts. “I’m telling people just hang tight and stay safe and we’ll put them in touch with information as soon as it comes,” Mitchell said. On Sunday, Thompson and Russell, along with many River Plantation residents, were taken by Nashville firefighters and volunteers to the Gordon Jewish Community Center in

Bellevue. Stranded motorists caught unawares in the deluge also sought shelter there. Overnight, 200 people stayed at the community center, said Nashville Red Cross site manager Ged Curry. Surrounded by floodwaters, one Bellevue neighborhood served as an impromptu island base for a volunteer rescue operation credited with helping 70 trapped families. Jacob Duffield, 22, had escaped with his parents from their home on Rolling River Road Sunday morning. By early afternoon, Duffield, friend Matt Win, also 22, and neighbor Dan Mataya, 40, had climbed aboard a recreational motorboat operated by Win’s father, Brentwood firefighter Mark Duffield. They launched the boat into water that skimmed the top of a stop sign at the corner of Morton Mill Road and Bay Cove Trail. Neighbors had heard screams for help further down Morton Mill in the Riverside Subdivision. “As soon as we rounded the corner, we were in a whole different world,” Mataya said. “It was all river. You could only see the second floors of these homes. We steered the boat up to the first window we saw and pulled people out. We kept yelling to people ‘We’re coming back.’ ” By Monday morning, the rescue operation had turned into a ferry operation. Duffield brought ice, food and medicines to neighbors unable to leave what people are calling Bellevue island. With no electricity, neighbors threw barbecue parties to cook rapidly defrosting meat. At 11 a.m. Monday, three dozen neighbors crowded into the garage of a home on Morton Mill Circle to listen to the mayor’s speech on a portable digital television. Residents also were stranded in the Riverwalk on the Harpeth and Boon Trace subdivisions. “Everyone is OK, they just can’t get out,” said Denise Full of the Bellevue Chamber. Full said the chamber alerted Tennessee Emergency Management Agency early Monday about the 100 or so in the subdivisions waiting on rescue.

North Nashville Flooding in North Nashville damaged homes, businesses and the Ted Rhodes Golf Course. Michael Kelley, who lives in the 1900 block of 28th Avenue North, had 5 inches of water in his basement. Kelley, who lives across the street from the Ted Rhodes Golf Course, said

Lou Hanemann pulls his wife, Natalie, holding Mae, 20 months, and, Merritt, 6, from their flooded home in the Somerset Farms development off of Coley Davis in Bellevue on Monday. SANFORD MYERS / THE TENNESSEAN everything was fine until about 4 a.m. Monday. The course was submerged by water from the Cumberland River, with water spilling out onto Ed Temple Boulevard and portions of 28th Avenue North. “The golf course was fine (Sunday), and I didn’t think any water would get to the house,” he said. Water also flooded businesses. Owners at Hody’s Florist, 3512 W. Hamilton Road, say the building has about 5 feet of water damage. The business, which has been in the Bordeaux community for 60 years and backs up to Whites Creek, also lost six delivery vans. Owners say they have business interruption insurance, but learned Monday it doesn’t include flooding. “This completely devastates us,” said owner Bill Hitt. “When the water engulfed our space, we knew it was a total loss. You put your whole life into something and in about six hours you see it destroyed.’’ Gwendolyn Brown was rescued around midnight Monday from River Park Apartments in North Nashville after calling 911 several times. “I just don’t know where I’m going. What I’m feeling is just hard to describe, you just don’t think this can happen to you,’’ Brown said. “We were never told to leave and didn’t know it was

going to get worse. We just don’t know who to call to get some help.” Carolyn Phillips tracked through thick mud left in her home by the flood. She and her husband John have lived in their home since 1968. She said it’s flooded plenty of times in their yard but never like this. “I am shocked, stunned and in disbelief. I still can’t believe this is happening. But I just thank God for sparing my life,’’ Phillips said. Neighbors and family members came to her home to help. The yards of more than 20 homes along West Hamilton were marked with furniture and personal belongings strewn across the front yards. Neighbors say they have seen plenty of passers-by, but they feel forgotten. “It hurts me. I’m a taxpayer and it feels like no one cares. Everyone is talking about Williamson County and Bellevue, but what about North Nashville? Someone was found dead in their home. Water is still up to our back doors and still no help,” Phillips said. “I am hurt and I am angry. My home and my neighborhood is devastated and no one is hearing our cry.” Many other residents along West Hamilton and in neighboring homes voiced the same complaint. “It’s absolute devastation over here. Absolute,’’ said resident Pamela Wood. “It

seems like no one cares or that we don’t exist.”

Antioch The metallic funk of creek mud hung in the muggy air Monday as Antioch residents, business owners and volunteers tackled the mess. Residents on Benzing Road opened their garage doors and carried their possessions onto their lawns to dry. Car hoods were open, revealing mud deposits on engines. “It would be nice if somebody would drive through here and say, ‘Listen, do y’all have any trash or anything that needs to be taken to the dump?’’’ said Teresa McCombs, who was sitting in her garage, waiting for her house to dry out. Brian McCombs, her husband, added that someone had done just that earlier in the day, only with a $40 fee attached. The flooding on Benzing came from a small tributary of Mill Creek, the body of water that overpowered I-24 on Saturday and created one of the flood’s most iconic images when a trailer was swept off its foundation, floated down the freeway and broke up against a big rig. At the intersection of Blue Hole Road and Antioch Pike, a group of men stood amid stacks of dirty mattresses outside a flooded mattress store. Frank Stan-

ley, the store’s owner, said police wouldn’t let him get into his office because codes inspectors weren’t sure it was safe. Overturned cars were visible not far beyond the office. Down the road, dozens of volunteers converged on the Lighthouse Christian Preschool, which was ravaged when another of Mill Creek’s feeder streams jumped its banks. Inside the fellowship hall, volunteers slipped around on floors slick with creek water and silt. “We’ve been ripping up carpet and stuff like that all morning, and I think a lot of that manual stuff, they’re making a lot of progress with that, so now it’s just the fine tuning, just grabbing a rag and some disinfectant and start wiping stuff down,’’ said Danny Woods, a pastor at Community Bible Church in South Nashville who was helping coordinate the effort. Neighbors and members of local churches had brought supplies to the school’s offices, and almost 200 people showed up to help clean up on Monday. “The community of churches, other Christian schools and just our general Antioch community has been phenomenal,” said Brian Sweatt, headmaster of Lighthouse Christian School. Nate Rau, Nancy DeVille, Lea Ann Overstreet Allen and Anita Wadhwani contributed to this report.


FLOOD OF 2010

THE TENNESSEAN

TUESDAY, MAY 4, 2010 • 7A

SAFETY CONCERNS

Conserve water, residents urged

Sanitation also a risk, officials say By Jaime Sarrio THE TENNESSEAN

State and city officials urged Middle Tennessee residents to conserve water late Monday as sandbags were being deployed to help keep Metro Water’s remaining treatment plant functioning. They also took pains to warn residents about the dangers of floodwater contamination, which can include hazardous chemicals or sewage. In Davidson County, residents have been asked to cut their water use in half by using it only for food preparation and drinking. “If you don’t have to wash, do not. If you don’t have to take a shower do not,” said Scott Potter, head of the water services division. As a result of the warnings, grocery stores were selling out of bottled water as residents prepared for the worst. Whole Foods Market in Green Hills and Kroger stores were to receive additional shipments Monday evening. JoAnne Jones loaded cases of water into her cart at the Kroger on Charlotte Pike. Jones’ State Street home wasn’t damaged in the floods, but she wants to be prepared for whatever comes next. “It’s the fear of the unknown,” she said. “At this point, I’d rather have it than not have it.”

System endangered Residents in Cheatham, Williamson and Davidson counties who receive water from the Harpeth Valley Utilities District were also instructed to take steps to conserve water. That system is endangered by rising floodwaters and is operating on generator power. Officials there are asking residents to use water only for drinking, bathing and cooking. The state’s Department

Drew Matthews hits his sister Kendyl with a hat full of water as the Walter Hill youths take advantage of the heavy rains to play in puddles and have mud fights. LARRY MCCORMACK / THE TENNESSEAN

MONTHLY RAINFALL

13.6

Nashville passed the average monthly rainfall for May in two days. Total rainfall for 2010 is 27.47 inches.

FIVE-DAY FORECAST

WED

THU

FRI

SAT

SUN

Average 2010 Totals

4

4.1

4.9 3.7

2.8

3.5

3.9

Sunny and Partly sunny Breezy with Partly sunny very warm and very clouds and and not as warm warm sun

5.1 3.5

*Measured in inches

Jan.

Feb.

March

April

May

SOURCES: NATIONAL WEATHER CHANNEL AND NOAA THE TENNESSEAN

of Environment and Conservation said that several communities, including Brentwood, were advising citizens to boil their water before consuming it. All citizens who use well water

should be boiling it. Sanitation is also an issue, since floodwaters have overwhelmed sewage systems in many places. In Nashville, officials said a sewage mix was flowing

Mostly sunny

Wind: SSW at 714 mph

Wind: SSW at 612 mph

Wind: SW at 1020 mph

Wind: NNW at 816 mph

Wind: E at 8-16 mph

88/62

84/67

79/53

68/48

71/51

Complete forecast on Page 8B into the Cumberland River and health officials recommended people stay out of floodwaters and keep their hands clean by using alcohol gel. The Metro Public Health Department is also offering tetanus shots for those who have not had

them in the last 10 years. In the coming days, health officials said mold will likely begin to develop and are asking residents to watch for moisture, which could develop as highs of 84 degrees are predicted for today.

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious diseases specialist at Vanderbilt University, said the heightened awareness of illness is helpful, but the greatest health risk from natural disasters is related to injuries. People are more likely to get cut, scraped, bruised or torn from flood cleanup than they are to contract an illness from murky floodwater. Heart attacks are also more common. “It is really is good advice to take it easy, know your limitations and stay within them,” he said. “Try to avoid physical injuries, because they are the most common.” Information on healthrelated tips during a flood can be found at http://health.nashville.gov. Contact Jaime Sarrio at 615-726-5964 or jsarrio@tennessean.com

Hundreds of residents find shelter By Janell Ross and Nancy DeVille THE TENNESSEAN

Lucy and Danny Owens get some sleep at McGavock High School after they were rescued from their home in the Pennington Bend area Monday night. JOHN PARTIPILO / THE TENNESSEAN

A Red Cross shelter resident and animal rescue volunteer from Kingston Springs brought 15 dogs and one cat to the Lipscomb University shelter after her home was damaged by water. At this Red Cross shelter location, people can bring their family cats and dogs. SHELLEY MAYS / THE TENNESSEAN

The strangest part about living in a shelter for Ronnie Smith is being surrounded by real walls and eating complete meals. In 2006, Smith lost both of his jobs and, not long after, the home where he’d lived for 20 years. Since then, he’s lived in a Tent City tarp-and-wood-frame structure near downtown. He wasn’t alarmed Monday when he saw about 2 inches of water on his plywood floor. But 15 minutes later, the floodwater reached the edge of his mattress. Smith knew he was in trouble. Inner City Ministries gave Smith and other Tent City residents a ride to a Red Cross shelter at Lipscomb University. “They have really been good to us,” Smith said. “ … As a matter of fact, last night I was so full, I couldn’t sleep.” Red Cross officials estimated 2,000 people were in shelters across Tennessee at one point as a result of the historic flooding. They were unsure of the number in Middle Tennessee alone. The shelter at Lipscomb was the first of four set up in Davidson County, said Bryan Graves, its co-director. The shelter can hold about 200 people and was so full Sunday night that some people had to be redirected, Graves said. “We’ve been able to serve a lot of the people who live on some of the lower-lying streets in the area, some of the Tent City residents and

“We need people to help us quick and not a month from now because we’ve lost everything.” ANN HAMILTON

people from other sections of the city too,” Graves said. “There’s really a variety of people here who have, essentially, been through the same thing.” Several residents of the River Park Apartments were rescued around midnight and sent to the Red Cross shelter at the Al Menah Shrine Temple on Brick Church Pike. Several residents said water levels in the 28th Avenue North apartment complex were waist deep when they left. Ann Hamilton and Anthony Stewart share a downstairs apartment. Last night, water was rushing in the cracks around their door. Water destroyed a brand-new mattress and was flowing into their stove and refrigerator. “We need people to help us quick and not a month from now because we’ve lost everything,” Hamilton said with tears in her eyes. Smith’s biggest concern was where he’ll go when the shelter closes. “I’m hoping they might be able to help us find some kind of permanent housing,” Smith said. Contact Janell Ross at 615-726-5982 or jross1@tennessean.com.


FLOOD OF 2010

8A • TUESDAY, MAY 4, 2010

THE TENNESSEAN

VICTIMS REMEMBERED

Flood’s death toll rising At least 9 Middle Tennessee families have lost loved ones in floodwaters

By Jennifer Brooks and Brian Haas THE TENNESSEAN

As the last of the storm clouds blew away, at least nine Middle Tennessee families were mourning the lives swept away by the flood. The fast-running floodwaters have claimed at least 10 lives in Davidson County and one in Williamson. The statewide total of confirmed deaths stands at 14 but does not include the almost half-dozen bodies recovered in Nashville on Monday evening. The flood claimed young and old alike, from a young father trying to wade through high water to check on his children to an elderly couple trying to make their way to church through a flooded intersection. Still more remain missing as rescue efforts continue. The last time anyone saw 21-year-old Joshua Landtroop, the young father was walking away from his job at an Antioch Olive Garden on Saturday and

wading into the water, determined to get home and check on his children. But the fastmoving water swept him off his feet and a friend found his body near Bell and Blue Hole roads on Saturday. “Everybody here misses him,” said Michelle Dean, a manager at the Olive Garden. “He had people who came in who were regulars and sit in his section.” He had two little boys under the age of 2 that he adored, she said. “They were just the light of his life,” she said. Friend and co-worker Oscar Garcia said Landtroop lived for his children. “The best dad in the world,” he said.

Losses are mounting Tennessee has barely begun to calculate its losses from the weekend floods that swamped downtown Nashville, submerged hundreds of homes and businesses and swept away

cars and the roads beneath them. Robert Woods, 74, was swept out of his own yard on Hamilton Avenue. Woods, a retired truck river, was known as “officer friendly” to students at Cockrill Elementary. Just Friday he was helping them cross the streets as a crossing guard. On Monday morning, his body was found near his West Hamilton Avenue home. His daughter, Rochelle Collier, said she spoke to him Sunday morning and he was complaining about water seeping into his den. Officials said Woods likely was swept away by floodwaters in his front yard. He was a fixture in his neighborhood, his family said. “Probably one of the most well-liked guys in the neighborhood,” said his son, Rodney Woods. “He raised a lot of kids in that community.” Above all, he loved his family, they said. Monday’s bright spring sunshine beamed down like an insult over flood-ravaged Delray Drive, where dozens of families lost everything they

own and one elderly couple lost their lives.

Trapped in homes, cars Not long after the water went down on Saturday, neighbors found Andrew and Martha England, ages 78 and 80, drowned in the home they had shared for half a century. Like so many others, they had been trapped in the house when nearby Richland Creek roared over its banks with enough force to sweep cars out of driveways and toss backyard sheds around like tinker toys. Also killed this weekend were Joseph and Bessie Formosa, ages 88 and 78, trapped when the floodwater overturned their car on Sawyer Brown Road. In Williamson County, crews spent about two hours Monday on the banks of Garrison Creek pulling Edward “Ned” Lea’s vehicle out from under a bridge. The 70-year-old Leiper’s Fork man died Saturday after his vehicle was swept away by floodwaters just a few feet from the drive leading to his home. He had gone out to check on

the tenants in a house he owned further down Garrison Road. “He just took care of people,” said friend Robin Lockwood. “He’s just a dear, sweet, gentle soul.” Lea was active in his church, Garrison United Methodist, and volunteered for causes such as Harpeth River Watershed Association and the Land Trust for Tennessee. Some of the local victims have yet to be identified officially — a man’s body recovered from the River Plantation subdivision, an elderly woman in Indian hills and a couple whose bodies were recovered from a creek behind the Belle Meade Kroger. Members of nearby St. George Episcopal Church fear they are a beloved pair of parishioners, fixtures in the church, who were trying to make their way to Sunday services when their car was swept away in a flooded intersection. Emergency workers are searching for more people believed to have been swept away in the flood. Reporter Jaime Sarrio contributed. Contact Jennifer Brooks at (615) 259-8892 or jabrooks@tennessean.com.

“Right now, they’re driving around, calling people, letting them know they’re all right. But that will change.” – CECIL STOUT, director of disaster relief

Clarksville imposes curfew River expected to crest overnight

By Chas Sisk

THE TENNESSEAN

CLARKSVILLE — This city braced for record floodwaters Monday night, as the Cumberland River covered riverside businesses and forced the evacuation of more than 100 residents. Emergency officials instituted a curfew from 8 p.m. Monday to 6 a.m. today to keep roads clear for rescue workers. Bridges linking Clarksville’s northern and southern sides were closed, leaving only one route in and out of the city center. At 61.5 feet, floodwaters here have broken by more than four feet the record set in 1975. The river was expected to rise at least 18 more inches before cresting overnight, according to the National Weather Service. The flood is still far below major downtown structures, as much of this city of nearly 120,000 people sits atop a bluff overlooking the Cumberland. But the flood has destroyed the local offices of the American Red Cross and several other businesses along Riverside Drive at the downtown’s western edge. By noon Monday, chest-high water filled the lumberyard of Orgain Building Supply, and the water was inches from the door of the 80year-old business’ warehouse. Fourth-generation coowner Hunter Orgain led workers in moving what inventory he could save to higher ground. Standing atop a floating bundle of 2by-10 lumber, Orgain surveyed the yard, trying to guess the extent of the damage. “We’ll find out once this starts going down,” he said. “It’s going to be substantial.” The Cumberland River overtopped Cheatham Dam, which lies upstream from Clarksville. The high water prompted fears among residents that the U.S. Army Corps of Engi-

Greg Christy helps a relative move furniture out of the Kuttin Konnection at the corner of Riverside Drive and College Street. GREG WILLIAMSON / THE LEAF-CHRONICLE

Hunter Orgain, co-owner of Orgain Building Supply on Commerce Street in Clarksville, led his workers in moving what inventory he could to higher ground. In trying to assess the damage, Orgain said, “We’ll find out once this starts going down. It’s going to be substantial.” CHAS SISK / THE TENNESSEAN neers would release more water and cause more extensive flooding in Clarksville. But the Corps said water was flowing freely over the dam’s spillway and the structure was operating as designed.

Early Monday morning, rescue workers closed half of a neighborhood on Kingbury Drive at the city’s southern end, evacuating 92 residents. The waters had crept to within 10 feet of houses in the remaining half by mid-

afternoon, and residents feared that waters rolling down the Cumberland would force them to leave, as well.

Red River reaches crest Floodwaters had started

to recede Monday on the Red River, which meets the Cumberland north of downtown and divides the city in half. But waters were still high enough to force the closure of two of the three bridges over the Red all day, and city officials announced that the third, on Warfield Boulevard, would also close overnight. Flooding on the Red River also forced the closure of the Midtown Inn on Kraft Street. Occupant Charlie Goodloe, who had recently moved to Clarksville from Nebraska, said he watched as the water carried away a Dumpster. Goodloe was rescued by boat around 10 a.m. and taken to a Red Cross

shelter, one of two that the local chapter was able to set up in Clarksville, despite losing its headquarters. The chapter served dinner to 45 people in Clarksville, as well as 57 people in Houston County and 70 people in Stewart County. Only three people were staying in Red Cross shelters in Clarksville as of early evening, but officials anticipated that more would check in after nightfall. “Right now, they’re driving around, calling people, letting them know they’re all right,” said Cecil Stout, director of disaster relief. “But that will change.” Reach Chas Sisk at 615-259-8283 or csisk@tennessean.com.


FLOOD OF 2010

THE TENNESSEAN

TUESDAY, MAY 4, 2010 • 9A

ACROSS THE REGION

Counties focus on rescue, recovery

Williamson travel is easier on foot, by boat FROM STAFF REPORTS

FRANKLIN —Heath Place subdivision has been an island since Saturday: the only way in or out is by boat — or by hiking the quarter of a mile down the nearby railroad tracks. Since Saturday’s storms first flooded the Harpeth River, residents in the 180home subdivision have had to cut through yards and hike in and out of the neighborhood for food, medicine or just for a change of scenery. And though clear skies and sun cheered residents, high water and road damage continued to hamper travel all over Williamson County. “I feel like I’m in a Deep South novel,” said Heath Place resident David Maddox, marching along the tracks toward Lewisburg Pike on Monday afternoon.

One-day record for rain More than 17 inches of rain fell on parts of Williamson County during the weekend. A new one-day rainfall record was set Saturday when 12.34 inches fell on Franklin. The previous record of 7.25 inches was set

Williamson County Schools officials said that although playgrounds at Hunters Bend Elementary were under water, damage to the building was minimal. They toured the area by helicopter on Monday. Parts of the county were accessible only by boat or on foot. SUBMITTED WILLIAMSON COUNTY SCHOOLS on May 4, 1979. The Harpeth River crested at 35 feet early Sunday morning, which is five feet above flood stage. Franklin Fire Chief Rocky Garzarek anticipated the trouble early Saturday morning, when he sent firefighters to the Cool Springs Academy Sports, where

they bought the store’s entire stock of eight aluminum johnboats, life-vests and oars, spending $3,200. Crews used the boats all weekend in Franklin, Brentwood and Williamson County, including early Monday morning when Franklin firefighters made a rescue in rural eastern Will-

iamson county along with two Arrington Volunteer Firefighters. Mike Thompson, director of the Williamson County Emergency Management Agency, said more than 500 homes in the county have sustained some type of damage. “I’ve been through quite a

few disasters, including the 1975 flood,” Thompson said. “At first I thought this would be similar to that, but it’s worse, and it’s not necessary the inches of rain, or feet of water. It’s the widespread effect of it. Part of it has to do with growth. In 1975, we had a lot less rooftops and asphalt in the

county.” Among the hard-hit areas was the 2,100-home Fieldstone Farms subdivision along Hillsboro Road, where Franklin firefighters made boat rescues from homes on Sunday, then fought a fire in waist-deep water early Monday morning when one of the flooded houses exploded and burned, heavily damaging the home next door. Several roads and bridges were seriously damaged by flowing water, including Sneed Road, Boyd Mill Pike, the Caney Fork and Sleepy Hollow bridges in Fairview, and a bridge on Brittain Lane in Nolensville. Damage was widespread in western and southwestern Williamson County, where a mobile home was swept off of its foundation, and huge chunks of asphalt were missing in places where the floodwaters damaged roads. A few homes in the Leiper’s Fork historic district also suffered damage, and there were isolated power outages. Spring Hill and Thompson’s Station also experienced high water and road damage, but officials there said infrastructure was functioning and residents were safe. Staff writers Kevin Walters, Suzanne Blackwood, Mitchell Kline contributed to this report.

CHEATHAM COUNTY

Many residents evacuate; hundreds are stranded

By Clay Carey

THE TENNESSEAN

ASHLAND CITY — From the deck of a friend’s motorboat, Peggy Martin leaned over to peer into the window of her green duplex on the west bank of the Cumberland River. She hoped to catch a glimpse of something familiar. All she saw was murky river water. Sunday was the last time she had been inside. By then, the swollen waters of the Cumberland were lapping at the doorstep. “We were praying it didn’t get any deeper, but we kept hearing that it would,” said Martin, 47, who waits tables and helps manage Riverview Restaurant & Marina a few yards from her home. “It was a nightmare come true.” The restaurant where Martin works was underwater Monday. Hundreds of Cheatham County residents shared in the nightmare as waters from the Cumberland and

Peggy Martin and her son Chris Wampler try to assess the damage to their Ashland City duplex. They fled their home on the Cumberland River early Sunday afternoon. By Monday morning, floodwaters had covered much of their home. They are staying with Martin’s sister in Clarksville. CLAY CAREY / THE TENNESSEAN

Harpeth rivers rose into neighborhoods. In Ashland City, the county seat, pickup trucks loaded with furniture headed east, away from the Cumberland. By midday Monday, the river had overtaken a lumberyard near the business district. Cheatham County offi-

cials expected river levels to rise another two to four feet by this morning. Several neighborhoods near rivers were evacuated Monday. In all, about 200 people had been told to leave their homes. About 40 were staying in two local emergency shelters. Edwin Hogan, director of

the Cheatham County Emergency Management Agency, said the county’s last major flood, in 1997, damaged about 250 homes. According to early estimates, this weekend’s hit twice as many. “All I can tell you is it’s a catastrophe,” Hogan said. Floodwaters isolated many residents in southern Cheatham County on Monday afternoon. Overflow from the Cumberland blocked highways into Kingston Springs from Ashland City in the north. The lower half of the county was cut off by the closure of Interstate 40 west of Nashville. About 1,200 people who live near Harpeth Middle School in Kingston Springs were left stranded. Hogan was on the phone with the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency and officials at the Fort Campbell military base, trying to get a helicopter to evacuate residents or to airlift in some supplies.

SUMNER COUNTY

GANNETT TENNESSEE

Some neighborhood evacuations continued in Sumner County on Monday. In Twelve Stones subdivision off Center Point Road, neighbors, the Coast Guard and county and city officials were busy helping residents evacuate and assisting others on Joshua’s Run move belongings before the water came into their homes. County Executive Anthony Holt said the situation is worse than the 2006 tornadoes. “That’s a little island in there now,”

Holt said. He said rescuers had already made 200 rescues in the county since the flooding began. “They need medical care, and they just need to get out as soon as possible.” John Isbell, property assessor for Sumner County, sent four trucks and manpower to the Twelve Stones area, as water began creeping up into resident’s back yards. Resident Angela Suddarth was still unsure whether to evacuate or stay, with water nearing the first step of her deck. The frantic homeowner said she wished she could get

more information about what was happening. “We’ve had no TV or radio for two days,” Suddarth said. “There’s got to be a better way of communicating than this. We have a lot of seniors in this neighborhood, and nobody knows what is going on.” According to Lt. Steven Holland with the Goodlettsville Fire Department, floodwaters from nearby Mansker’s Creek had flooded a road, trapping 75-100 residents. “We’re going door to door, trying to get to these people that can’t get out,” Holland said.

Across town on the 200 block of Southburn Drive in Hendersonville, cars and trucks lined the roads as dozens of residents were removing their belongings after suffering high waters in their homes on Sunday, May 2. Residents say the flooding from nearby Drakes Creek began around 9:15 a.m. “It was up to my waist when I left yesterday,” resident Brenda Penman said. “It only took 20 to 30 minutes for it to rise that much.” Contact Sherry Mitchell at 575-7117 or shmitchell@mtcngourp.com.

RUTHERFORD COUNTY

Rescuers stay busy as assesses damage from flood By Mark Bell

GANNETT TENNESSEE

Emergency officials monitored water levels, did damage assessments and continued rescues in Rutherford County all day Monday, according to Emergency Management Agency Assistant Director Tim Hooker. About 40 roads in Rutherford County were impacted when the waters were at their worst. Smyrna and La Vergne were heavily hit, along with areas along state Route 840. There were no official numbers on the amount of

Merchants start cleanup By Deborah Highland THE TENNESSEAN

‘That’s a little island in there now’; evacuations continue By Sherry Mitchell

WILSON COUNTY

homes affected. “We were running in rescue mode all the way up until (Sunday) night,” Hooker said. “We’ve been limited in our ability to do any impact studies at this point. We are asking the general public for assistance in putting one together, though. Anyone with flood or storm damage to their home should call our disaster assistance telephone number at 8905519 or 890-2957.” Flooding in Murfreesboro was less severe, said Murfreesboro Police spokesman Kyle Evans. “We had about 37 com-

plaints of road hazards over the weekend, and that includes power lines, trees and water blocking roadways,” Evans said. “Some of the areas that are prone to flooding saw water rise, but hopefully that will recede by (Monday) evening.”

‘Never had it this high’ Kathryn Wright, who lives on Sulphur Springs Road near Shacklett, was stranded inside her house with her family. It appeared that the Stones River was rising instead of falling Monday,

Wright said. “We’ve never had it this high before,” she said. “It keeps going up and up and up.” Wright, who has flood insurance, said she and the rest of her family have not considered evacuating because they still feel relatively safe. MTSU canceled all exams scheduled for Monday and reset them for Friday at the same time and in the same location, according to the MTSU Web site. Rutherford County Schools announced that it would close for a second straight day today.

Bill Markham sat in a lawn chair Monday in front of his downtown Lebanon business watching over his soggy shoe inventory after floodwaters from Sinking Creek soaked downtown Lebanon twice over the weekend. “We had probably a $90,000-$100,000 loss,” Markham said about his business, Markham Shoes. Water and muddrenched carpets and furniture lined the downtown streets as business owners attempted to salvage what they could and throw out what was ruined. Many county roads remained impassable Monday with orange barrels blocking access to areas that still had water. Monday night about 20 roads scattered throughout the county were still in some way impacted by floodwaters, Wilson Emergency Management Director John Jewell said. However, other necessary infrastructure such as water, gas and electricity remained intact throughout the county, he said. Wilson Emergency Management Agency has scheduled a 9 a.m. meeting today to determine a countywide dollar amount for damages. Nashville Eastern Railroad workers sweated it out in the hot afternoon sun to place the Music City Star tracks back on the trestle over Sinking Creek after floodwaters shifted the tracks off the downtown

Lebanon trestle and moved them about five feet. “I’ve had this store for 25 years. I’ve never seen anything like this,” Markham said about the flood. Markham will reopen his store today and hold a shoe sale of the water-damaged work boots and shoes in about two weeks, he said.

Wonders about future A few doors down from Markham, Beth Barnett who owns Butter Churn Antiques and Collectibles and Heaven’ Scent gift shop swished water out of her business and pondered what her future holds. Some of her prized pieces such as what was once a near-mint condition 1800s dresser and an ornate wooden organ were badly damaged. Like most people in the county, Barnett did not have flood insurance. “Right now, we’re going day by day,” she said visibly upset as she looked over her waterlogged antiques. “It’s pretty devastating.” Across the county in the far eastern community of Statesville, many of the hamlet’s residents were drying their furniture on their front lawns and picking up the scattered remains of their homes and personal possessions after the Smith Fork Creek overran its banks and flooded nearby homes. Little Hannah Saddler, 7, was in her next-door-neighbor’s front yard picking up family photos that had been placed in the yard to dry.


FLOOD OF 2010

10A • TUESDAY, MAY 4, 2010

THE TENNESSEAN

IMPACT ON TOURISM

Attractions take big hit as tourism season begins >> TOURISM FROM 1A Most should bounce back in time for the CMA Music Festival on June 10-13, if not well before then, said Butch Spyridon, president and CEO of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau. But Gaylord Opryland, with its nearly 2,900 hotel rooms and 600,000 square feet of meeting and exhibition space, will be out of commission indefinitely, and the city will be without a fifth of its hotel taxes, the amount typically collected by Gaylord. As the floodwaters continued to rise Monday inside the garden-filled atriums of the famous hotel,

some of the conventions booked there this summer were being redirected to Gaylord resorts in other cities, said David Kloeppel, president and chief operating officer. “We know there is significant impact,” Spyridon said. Already, one large convention that was to bring 5,000 guests to the hotel for a government-related meeting had to be canceled. With hundreds of conventions and meetings in jeopardy, Spyridon is working with Gaylord officials to keep some of the smaller groups here by booking them at other Nashville hotels and downtown’s Nashville Convention Cen-

ter, although those venues are nearly full this summer. Nashville won’t be able to accommodate the largest groups because no other venues have big enough meeting spaces, he said. The resort on the banks of the Cumberland River evacuated 2,000 guests and employees Sunday night as the rain-filled river rose, flooding the Delta and Cascades atriums. The Cascades seafood restaurant and lobby were underwater by Monday, spokeswoman Kim Keelor said. Most of the hotel rooms were free of damage as of Monday. The impact of the flood was such an unprecedented disaster that officials at Gay-

Workers and contractors survey the rising floodwaters covering the floor of Bridgestone Arena in downtown Nashville. LARRY MCCORMACK / THE TENNESSEAN

lord Entertainment Co. said it was withdrawing reports about its 2010 financial earnings and said the company’s finances will be affected for the next two quarters. “It comes at a real bad

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time of year because we’re getting to the real meat of our tourism season with school being out,” said Mark Bloom, a downtown developer who co-owns the Hilton Nashville Downtown and the Union Station Hotel and is part of the group opening the new Margaritaville restaurant on Lower Broadway. “There’s nothing you can do but cross your fingers that they’ll get open as soon as possible,” Bloom said. “This will be difficult for Nashville and the industry.” Mayor Karl Dean said he is still encouraging people to visit Nashville. “Opryland is obviously a very serious situation, and they’re going to have to deal with the repair to the building and the cleanup, which will take some time. … That will have an impact on our local economy,” he said.

‘Still open for business’ Tunes of heartache and loss floated out of the honky-tonks on Lower Broadway on Monday, while tourists shopped and gawked at the floodwaters that crept up Broadway to at least Second Avenue. “I’m happy to see the downtown area is open and the music is playing,” said Swede Kent Sloberg, who was evacuated from Gaylord Opryland on Sunday night and spent Monday shopping along Lower Broad. Although he was forced to leave his luggage and passport behind in his hotel room and spent the night in a school shelter, the traumatic turn of events left the tourist with no hard feelings, and he said he would gladly return to Nashville. “The last time we came was November, and we wanted to come when it was warmer,” said Sloberg, a consultant for the automotive industry. “We thought to come in May for good weather.” Some downtown businesses reported less tourist traffic than usual. “Right now, I think people are staying away,” said Kandy Felker, a store manager at Boots N More on Lower Broadway. The bigger issue for tourist-reliant businesses is what will happen without Gaylord guests this summer. “We’ll be able to stay open, but it will affect us,” said David Osborne, a manager at Second to None gift shop and the Charlie Daniels Museum on Second Avenue. Bloom, the developer, is less concerned. “Most of the conventions booked at Opryland exist within their community,” he said, saying guests largely eat and shop there. “I think downtown is an enormous draw in itself.” Gov. Phil Bredesen recalled the impact of a previous natural disaster: “I was mayor back when the tornadoes came through, and one of the things we had to deal with was people all over the country suddenly thinking, ‘Nashville’s not there anymore. … We’re not going to go there.’ “Once this water recedes and some of the cleanup gets done, all of the things that people come to Tennessee to see and do are basically going to be available, and we certainly don’t want people staying away for any reason or thinking that won’t be the case.” By Monday afternoon, water had risen to the third row of the subterranean Ford Theater at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, but no water damage was expected to the museum’s extensive collec-

tions, spokeswoman Liz Thiels said. Officials were to decide by 7 a.m. today whether to open. The Grand Ole Opry has rescheduled shows to the Ryman Auditorium and War Memorial Auditorium, former homes to the Opry. The last time the Opry had to relocate was in 1975, when it temporarily moved to Municipal Auditorium, also because of Cumberland River flooding. Only one downtown hotel, the Hampton Inn, had to close because of flooding, Spyridon said. Hard Rock on Second Avenue will stay closed for another three to four days, as much of the beer, produce, frozen goods and dry goods stored in its basement have been ruined, said general manager Jim McGonagle. Officials don’t know when the Wildhorse will reopen. At the Hilton Nashville Downtown, some 10 feet of water shut down its twolevel underground garage on Monday, but all vehicles were moved to dry ground, said general manager Ray Waters. It could be today before the parking garage is accessible, he said. Inside the hotel, the basement is flooded but no rooms are in danger, and the hotel was able to make 75 rooms available to guests evacuated from the Opryland Hotel. “The important thing is to get the message out that Nashville is OK, and we’re still open for business,” said Brenda Sanderson, owner of four Lower Broadway honky-tonks, including The Stage on Broadway, Second Fiddle, Nashville Crossroads and Legends Corner. None was damaged.

Partial opening unlikely Gaylord officials could not specify how long cleanup could take because they had not fully tallied damage Monday, nor could they assess the amount of damage and how much in sales the hotel would lose. Last year, the hotel earned $55.3 million in revenue and had $13.6 million in cash flow during the second quarter, which runs from April to June. Coincidentally, Gaylord Entertainment released its first-quarter report yesterday, with Opryland Hotel posting small increases in revenue and occupancy. “They reported strong numbers with future bookings up, attrition down and business in general turning the corner,” said Amit Kapoor, an equity analyst who follows gaming and lodging for Gabelli & Co. in New York. Gabelli is a shareholder in Gaylord. “From the investor perspective, the franchise is intact,” he said. “The flood can’t do anything that the Great Recession we are in couldn’t do to the company. … Meeting planners still love Gaylord.” It is unlikely the hotel would partially reopen, said Peter Weien, senior vice president and general manager. “Even though there are four areas, it does operate as one big hotel,” he said. “We are surely looking at that, but our goal is to get the (entire) hotel fully up and operating.” That’s a good move, according to Nashville hospitality consultant Drew Dimond. “Rather than try to stay open during construction, de-molding and whatever else takes place, it’s probably a smart but expensive decision to shut down.” Staff writers Jessica Bliss and Nate Rau contributed. Contact Bonna Johnson at 615-726-5990 or bjohnson@tennessean.com.


FLOOD OF 2010

THE TENNESSEAN

TUESDAY, MAY 4, 2010 • 11A

LUXURY LOST

Opryland guests become evacuees Rising Cumberland clears resort hotel, disrupts getaways

Opry Mills mall and the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center (in the background) are viewed from the sky Monday afternoon. The water from the flooded Cumberland River was reported to still be rising.

By Jessica Bliss and Jennifer Justus THE TENNESSEAN

Chris Hemmen got to take one bite of his scallops at the Cascades restaurant Sunday night. Then the surprise birthday weekend his wife had planned took an unexpected turn. “We ended up here,” he said Monday morning, standing next to a table of doughnuts and NutriGrain bars at McGavock High School. “With no truck … and my birthday’s tomorrow. It’s not turning out so good.” Hemmen, 36, and his wife, Amanda, were two of about 2,000 guests and workers who were evacuated from Gaylord Opryland Hotel on Sunday night. And it’s a good thing they were: By 11 a.m. on Monday, the Cascades restaurant was under about 10 feet of rising water. Hemmen’s 2009 four-door Dodge is probably underwater as well, along with every other car in the valet parking lot. It’s too early to assess the monetary damage, but it could be months before the hotel is restored, according to Peter Weien, senior vice president and general manager of the hotel. Some of the about 500 evacuees who remained at the McGavock shelter Monday morning expressed frustration at how Opryland staff handled the situation, but the scene inside the hotel was clearly unfit for anyone other than critical staff. “It looks surreal,” Weien said. The sight forced Gaylord Entertainment President and Chief Operating Officer David Kloeppel to fight back tears. He had been stranded in Florida until 9:30 a.m. Monday, so he got his first look at the damage midmorning, peering over walkways into the rippling, moss-colored water dotted with overturned dining chairs, abandoned tables and crates of wineglasses. The Cascades area is the closest

SAMUEL M. SIMPKINS / THE TENNESSEAN

of the hotel’s four areas to the Cumberland River and sits at the lowest elevation, and it sustained the most devastating damage. What was once an awe-inspiring greenhouse with meandering brooks, full-grown palm trees, colorful koi and dancing fountains looked like a swamp — an Atlantis of sunken restaurants and shops. “We put our hearts and souls into this place, and to see the devastation from this rainfall and these floods is something that tears your heart in half,” Kloeppel said. The levees surrounding the building were built to sustain water rising to 422 feet above sea level. When the water rose above that, there was nothing hotel staff could do but wait for it to crest. Water started entering the Cascades check-in area, which Weien said sits at 416 feet, around 11 p.m. Sunday. It wasn’t long before the hotel’s generators were overtaken by floodwaters, introducing diesel fuel into the water and leaving a thick smell of oil in the air. With gas in the water and the building without power, Opryland officials didn’t plan any damage assessment until the water receded. On Monday morning, calls were placed to future guests making them aware of the situation and, in some instances, rebooking them at other Gaylord

facilities across the country. Weien said the Nashville facility would seek permission from the city to start pumping water back into the Cumberland once the river again reaches safe levels.

Hotel’s planning criticized As water rose inside the hotel, the evacuees and hotel employees did their best to carry on. Erik Vaz of La Vergne reported to work at McGavock High School, rather than the hotel, in his shiny vest, name tag and black pants. He wove between round cafeteria tables to retrieve plates of pastries and banana peels and bottled water. A few evacuees slept in corners of the cafeteria. Blankets and pillows were piled in chairs, and every electrical outlet had a cell phone attached. “It’s pretty dire,” Vaz said. Peter Evans, from Northampton, England, stood outside the high school with just $20, a pack of cigarettes and his room key. The rest of his belongings, including his passport, remain on the fifth floor of the hotel. Most guests will receive their luggage at their homes by mail, but for guests like Evans or those who need medication from their bags, employees were making special retrievals. “Their planning is shoddy,” Evans said, frustrated at not being

allowed back to the room for his bags. “A sixth-grader could have done it better.” Evans and his partner, Frankie Payas, had planned to stay 10 days in Nashville, taking in the “country-western music and local culture.” Now he just wants to get on a plane back to England. “There’s nothing to see,” he said. “That sounds bad, but the last thing they want is two British nationals here trying to sightsee.”

They left in a hurry Inside the hotel, evidence of the rapid departure was clear. In some of the higher-elevation areas, collections of Bud Light bottles and half-eaten meals sat on glass tabletops, with water just beginning to lap over the tables’ edges. Staff walked through hallways with flashlights collecting luggage left by hotel patrons. Rows of bags lined sidewalks outside the Magnolia entrance, which sits at an elevation of 435 feet and was still out of reach of the water. Around noon, almost all of the 2,881 guest rooms were still undamaged, the water concentrated mostly in common areas. At the Water’s Edge restaurant, which once sat on the banks of an indoor river, just the tops of red and blue table umbrellas peeked out from the muddy abyss. The

scene made it abundantly clear that the previous night’s evacuation had been for the best. “It was a dynamic situation, ever-changing in terms of where the river was going to end up,” Weien said. “The fact that we evacuated when we did was the absolute right thing to do. Everyone got out of here safe and sound. Everyone has been accounted for. “The bitter part is walking around this hotel and seeing the devastation that’s happened. That’s the sad part.” While some evacuees were unhappy, others were more complimentary of the hotel’s efforts. Daniel Graybeal of Coburn, Va., paced outside the high school as he waited for his son-in-law to arrive with a rental car. Graybeal’s 2010 Honda SRV and his son-inlaw’s 2010 Honda Odyssey were under water. His granddaughters had been in a dance competition, and Graybeal was traveling with them, his wife, daughter and sonin-law. Graybeal had not slept a wink, but he said his family members were handling the situation. “They’re doing fine. We’re taking it in stride,” he said. “Material things can be bought. Life and limb cannot.” Reach Jessica Bliss at 615-259-8253 or jbliss@tennessean.com. Reach Jennifer Justus at 615-259-8072 or jjustus@tennessean.com.

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FLOOD OF 2010

12A • TUESDAY, MAY 4, 2010

THE TENNESSEAN

CLEANUP AND RECOVERY TRASH PICKUP

DISASTER INFORMATION CENTERS Metro Davidson County will open two Disaster Information Centers for general information on utilities, social service assistance and legal and insurance information (but not medical assistance). Citizen Information Centers will operate from 12-8 p.m. at: Bellevue Community Center, 656 Colice Jeanne Rd. Coleman Community Center, 384 Thompson Lane.

DEBRIS Metro Public Works still is finalizing a schedule for debris collection, but it has issued the following preliminary guidelines for Davidson County residents: 1. All materials must be separated and placed at the curb or street-side for collection. Debris must be separated into three piles: ■ White goods and metals (appliances, etc.) ■ Construction and demolition debris (carpet, lumber, windows, etc.) ■ Vegetation (brush, limbs, yard waste) 2. Do not place items in public alleys.

go to www.nashvilleredcross.com. ■ Call 911 in an emergency.

Metro Public Works will run trash and recycling pickup routes in areas where streets are clear of flooding. Residents whose carts washed away should bag and tie trash and place at the curb or alley for pickup. Recycling should be bagged, tied and clearly labeled “recycling.” To request a replacement cart, contact Public Works at 880-1000.

FLOOD HELP ■ United Way’s 211 service can connect callers with roughly 7,000 programs in Middle Tennessee that offer assistance with food, clothing and shelter, among others. Call 2-1-1. ■ Happy Tales Humane in The Factory in Franklin is offering temporary housing for small- to mediumsize dogs for homeowners who have not evacuated their homes because of their pets. Call Debbi Cure at 615-210-7095 or go to www.happytaleshumane. com for information. ■ Campbell Station SelfStorage in Thompson’s Station is offering free storage for 30 days to people who have been affected by flooding or tornadoes. Call

HOW TO HELP

Ken McNeese, owner of KLM Mechanical Contractors, and Metro Police Officer David Hazzard talk as the two overlook flooding of McNeese’s building and others Monday night on Omohundro Place in Nashville. ERIN PARKER / FOR THE TENNESSEAN

615-302-0600. ■ All YMCAs outside of Davidson County are making their shower facilities available to the community. Visitors need to bring their own towels. For information, go to www.ymcamid tn.org/location-map and contact the Y in your area. ■ Soles4Souls will be distributing at least 1,000 pairs of new flip-flops today at Old Hickory Community Shelter, 1050 Hadley Ave., in Old Hickory. For information, call 615-391-5723. ■ For those who have questions about flooding or

need non-emergency assistance, Metro has a hot line, 615-862-8574. ■ The American Red Cross is operating 18 shelters across Middle and West Tennessee. These include the Al Menah Shrine Center and Lipscomb University in Nashville, Grace United Methodist Church in Mt. Juliet, Smyrna Town Center in Smyrna, College Hills Church of Christ in Lebanon and The People’s Church in Franklin. Call the Red Cross at 615-250-4250 to find the closest shelter or

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As Middle Tennessee deals with the biggest flood in memory, count on the Tennessean team to keep you informed. Log on to Tennessean.com for ongoing news and updates, including: • • • • • • •

Updates as conditions change Personal accounts and flood stories Recovery efforts Road conditions Tips if you suffered flood damage Safety issues and help lines Insurance phone numbers and advice

STAY UP TO DATE Breaking News Get updates and breaking news as it happens on Tennessean.com Mobile Text For fastest updates, get headlines straight to your cell, just text TNNEWS to 44636 (4INFO). @tndotcom Follow The Tennessean for ongoing news and information Facebook - facebook.com/tennessean Join us on Facebook for featured content and provide feedback

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■ Hands On Nashville is doing widespread organizing of volunteers to help with a variety of flood recovery and relief efforts, as safe volunteer opportunities are identified by the Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management. Register at www.hon.org. ■ Middle Tennessee Kroger locations are collecting donations of money and non-perishable items for the American Red Cross and Second Harvest Food Bank to aid flood victims. ■ Drop off donations of bottled water, new clothes and cleaning supplies, such as buckets, gloves and mops, at Christ Church, 15354 Old Hickory Blvd. Volunteers are also needed to distribute these items. Call 615-834-6171 for more information. ■ Financial donations can be made to relief efforts through the Community Foundation at www.cfmt.org. ■ To support The Salvation Army’s relief efforts, make a credit card donation by calling 1-800-725-2769 or online at www.salarmynashville.com. ■ In Wilson County, the Lebanon/Wilson County Chamber of Commerce is coordinating volunteer cleanup efforts. To get or offer help, call 615-444-5503.

INSURANCE Here are telephone numbers to file claims with some of the largest home insurers in Tennessee: ■ State Farm Fire and Casualty Co., 1-800-7325246 ■ Farm Bureau Insurance, 1-800-836-6327 ■ Allstate Insurance Co., 1-800-767-7619 ■ Nationwide Insurance Co., 1-800-421-3535 ■ Traveler’s Insurance Co., 1-800-252-4633 ■ Farmers Insurance Group 1-800-435-7764 ■ USAA (United Services Auto Association), 1-800-531-8111 ■ Foremost Insurance Co., 1-800-527-3907 Here are tips from the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance on interacting with insurance companies: ■ Locate a copy of your policy and read through it. ■ Contact your insurance carrier or your agent as soon as possible after damage. ■ Make a thorough inventory of all missing or damaged items. ■ Take pictures inside and out for documentation before repairs are made. ■ Secure and protect your property against further rain or other damage without making permanent repairs, so an adjustor can see the full extent of damage. ■ Keep receipts any for expenses required to protect your property from further damage. ■ Follow the claims-filing procedure set forth in your policy. If there is a dispute, follow the company’s dispute process. ■ Settlement offers can be negotiated. You don’t have to take the first offer. ■ If you have issues with an insurance company, call the Department of Commerce and Insurance at 1-800-342-4029. ■ Avoid unscrupulous, unlicensed contractors who take advantage of homeowners eager to rebuild after disasters by hiring only licensed contractors. Consumers may verify a license status by calling 1-800-544-7693 or checking online at http://licsrch. state.tn.us/. For noninsurance issues, call the Consumer Affairs hot line, 1-800-342-8385.

GOING HOME ■ Return home only when authorities indicate it is safe. ■ Stay out of any building if it is surrounded by floodwaters. ■ Before re-entering your home, walk around the outside to check for loose power lines, gas leaks and structural damage. If you have any doubts about

safety, don’t go in. ■ If you smell gas, do not enter. Call your local gas company immediately from a neighbor’s home. ■ Use caution when entering, as the foundation could be damaged or floorboards could be loose. ■ Service damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits and leaching systems as soon as possible. Damaged sewage systems are serious health hazards. ■ Clean and disinfect everything that got wet. Mud left from floodwater can contain sewage and chemicals. ■ Check for sparks and broken or frayed wires. Check the electrical system unless you are wet or standing in water. If possible, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. Do not turn on the lights until you are sure they’re safe to use. Unplug appliances and let them dry. ■ If pipes are damaged, turn off the main water valve. Pump out wells and have the water tested by authorities before drinking. Do not flush toilets until you know that sewage lines are intact. ■ If your basement has flooded, pump it out gradually (about one-third of the water per day) to avoid damage. The walls may collapse and the floor may buckle if the basement is pumped out while the surrounding ground is still waterlogged.

FOOD SAFETY If you lost power, some of your food may be unsafe to eat. Here are guidelines: ■ While the power is out, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. ■ Never taste food to determine its safety. Some foods may look and smell fine, but if they’ve been at room temperature too long, they may harbor bacteria and toxins that can’t be destroyed by cooking. ■ Throw away food that came into contact with floodwaters, including containers with screw caps, twist caps and homecanned goods. ■ Discard perishables — meat, poultry, fish, eggs, leftovers — that have been above 40 degrees F for two hours or more. Determine its temperature with a food thermometer. ■ Toss food that has an unusual odor, color or texture or feels warm to the touch.

WATER SAFETY During a flood, water can become contaminated with microorganisms such as bacteria, sewage, agricultural or industrial waste, chemicals and other substances that can cause illness or death. While there were no reports of Middle Tennessee drinking water supplies being contaminated because of flooding, keep water safety in mind: ■ If water is deemed unsafe, use only bottled, boiled or treated water for drinking, cooking or preparing food, washing dishes, cleaning, brushing your teeth, washing hands, making ice and bathing. ■ Boiling water for one minute will kill most harmful bacteria and parasites, but not chemical contaminants. If you believe water is contaminated, drink only bottled water. ■ If you can’t boil water, treat it with chlorine tablets, iodine tablets or unscented household chlorine bleach (1/8 teaspoon per gallon of clear water; for cloudy water, use 1/4 teaspoon per gallon). Mix thoroughly and let it stand for 30 minutes before drinking or using. ■ If you have a well that may be contaminated, contact your local or state health department or agriculture extension agent for specific advice. ■ Practice basic hygiene, washing hands with soap and bottled, boiled or disinfected water. Wash hands before preparing food or eating, after toilet use, after participating in cleanup and after handling articles contaminated with floodwater or sewage. Use an alcoholbased hand sanitizer if you have a limited supply of clean water. — COMPILED BY TENNESSEAN STAFF


FLOOD OF 2010

THE TENNESSEAN

TUESDAY, MAY 4, 2010 • 13A

WATERLOGGED CARS

Flood litters area with stranded cars Rental car agencies do brisk business

knowing they had been flooded.

By G. Chambers Williams III

While cars with minor damage might be OK for resale, those submerged in several feet of water could develop numerous problems in the future, including electrical defects, mold and mildew in upholstery and carpets, and rust in unseen places, experts warn. In any case, potential buyers should be told of the vehicle’s history, the National Automobile Dealers Association said. Meanwhile, there were some spot shortages of gasoline at stations in the flooded areas on Monday as delivery trucks weren’t able to reach them, “for the same reasons that residents couldn’t reach their homes,” said Mike Williams of the Tennessee Petroleum Council. But there was no general shortage of gasoline in the Nashville area, and plenty was available even though a few terminals along the Cumberland River were temporarily shut down by floodwaters, he said. “We have plenty of gasoline on hand and can bring in more from Memphis, Knoxville, Louisville, Birmingham or Atlanta if we need to,” Williams said. “It’s not like it was after Hurricane Katrina when there was no gasoline coming up from the Gulf. The refinery in Memphis has no shortage of crude oil.”

Gasoline is plentiful

THE TENNESSEAN

Hundreds of flooded vehicles are victims of the Nashville-area storms, ranging from cars driven through high water to those caught parked in low-lying areas. Once a car has been in water at least a foot deep for an hour or more, it’s probably not drivable, and trying to start it, even after it has apparently dried out, could cause serious engine or electrical damage, said AAA spokeswoman Angie Plant. “Definitely do not try to start it and drive it out of standing water,” she said. “Have it towed to a repair facility to be checked out. Water can affect the electrical system and the gasoline, and muddy water can do damage to the upholstery and carpeting.” If the car’s insurance policy includes comprehensive coverage, flood damage is covered, Plant said, minus the deductible, which can range from $50 to $250. Some policies even cover the cost of a rental car while the damaged vehicle is being repaired. Rental agencies were doing a brisk business Monday, and some consumers waited in long lines to get rentals. Hether Crawford of Nashville said her car hydroplaned and crashed on Interstate 24 near Briley Parkway on Saturday morning, putting it out of commission. On Monday morning, she

TSU student Ryan Clark passes a car that is nearly underwater Sunday near his home on Blakemore Avenue. Cars that have been flooded require care to avoid further damage. SHELLEY MAYS / THE TENNESSEAN walked to an Enterprise Rent-ACar agency and found a waiting list of more than 80 people. The list had grown to 150 by the time she was waited on, but her insurance company had been able to reserve a vehicle for her. She said others waiting at the agency were told it could be days before a rental car was available. After flooded cars are towed in and mechanical problems are dealt with, most will need professional interior cleaning, Plant said.

Much damage avoidable Much of the vehicle water dam-

age could have been avoided if motorists hadn’t tried to drive through standing water, according to AAA, which reported a heavy volume of storm-related calls in the Nashville area. Many vehicles were stranded after drivers tried to go through water that was too deep, or drove too fast through the water, causing it to spray into the engine compartment and stall the motor. Once stranded, many vehicles could not be removed before rapidly rising water inundated them. Whether an auto insurer will choose to repair a flood-damaged vehicle or consider it a total loss

depends on the amount of damage and the value of the car, Plant said. Cars that have been completely submerged often are declared total losses. What happens to those totaled vehicles next, though, poses another hazard to the public. Often, unscrupulous dealers will purchase the flood-damaged vehicles, clean them up and try to sell them to consumers without disclosing their history. Thousands of recovered flooddamaged vehicles came to market in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, for instance, and many consumers purchased them without

Contact Tennessean automotive writer G. Chambers Williams III at 615-259-8076 or cwilliams1@tennessean.com. Staff writer Brian Haas contributed to this report.

HOW TO DETERMINE WHETHER A VEHICLE HAS BEEN FLOOD DAMAGED There’s no sure method to test a vehicle for flood damage, the National Automobile Dealers Association says. But the industry group offers these tips for determining if a vehicle has been waterlogged: ■ Check the title history, using a service such as Carfax, which can show whether the vehicle has sustained flood damage.

■ Examine the interior and the engine compartment for evidence of water and grit. ■ Check for recently shampooed carpet (not a sure sign of flood damage, though, because many car dealerships clean carpets on used cars if they’re just dirty). ■ Check under the carpet for water residue or stains from

evaporated water not related to air-conditioning pan leaks. ■ Look for rust on the inside of the car and under the carpeting, and inspect all interior upholstery and door panels for any evidence of fading. ■ Check under the dashboard for dried mud and residue, and note any evidence of mold or a musty odor in the upholstery,

carpet or trunk. ■ Check for rust on screws in the console or other areas where water normally wouldn’t reach. ■ Check for mud or grit in alternator crevices, behind wiring harnesses and around the small recesses of starter motors, power steering pumps and relays.

■ Carefully inspect the electrical wiring system, looking for rusted components, water residue or suspicious corrosion. ■ Inspect the undercarriage for rust and flaking metal that wouldn’t normally be associated with late-model vehicles. SOURCE: National Automobile Dealers Association

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FLOOD OF 2010

16A • TUESDAY, MAY 4, 2010

THE TENNESSEAN

AGRICULTURE AND SUPPLIES

Farmers fear total loss of their early crops By Getahn Ward

Cattle usually graze on this farm along Sneed Road near the Harpeth River.

THE TENNESSEAN

Just weeks after planting 260 acres of corn, farmer Danny Rochelle expects a MARGARET SIZEMORE total loss after the Duck / THE TENNESSEAN River flooded his farm last weekend. “It’s all under about 20 to if they need to replant or 30 feet of water,” said switching to soybeans. That Rochelle, who estimates a decision depends in part on cost of at least $30,000 to how fast the water recedes. replant and fertilize a new For Rochelle, replanting corn crop at his farm near corn this month would Centerville in Hickman reduce his yield by 15 percent. If he doesn’t get his County. Farmers statewide are soybean crop planted by counting costs of the flood mid-May, the yield would that brought rain at levels decline by a bushel a day. Rochelle has crop insurthat occur only once in a thousand years to roughly ance, but he expects to two-thirds of Tennessee’s recover only about $2,500 95 counties. “There’s no one on a $30,000 loss. Other farmers, meanalive in Tennessee today that has seen a storm of this while, are dealing with damage to equipmagnitude,” ment, fences said Kevin and pastures. Brown, state On Monday, conservationist dairy farmer for the U.S. Bob Strasser Department of still had eight Agriculture’s feet of water Natural on 83 percent Resources of his 240-acre Conservation Strasser Farms Service. off Pennington Corn planted Bend Road last month, near Gaylord wheat planted last fall and KEVIN BROWN Opryland. On Sunday, 22 expected to be state heifers had to harvested next conservationist for be moved to month, and soybeans the U.S. Depart- higher whose planting ment grounds, and Strasser is season just of Agriculture’s concerned began face the Natural Resources about cleanup biggest risks, Conservation and higher depending on costs how long the Service. feed because the water remains. cows won’t eat The flood the muddied coming early in grass. “I don’t this year’s planting season, however, eat dirty food, and they’re should lessen the financial not going to either,” said the dairy effect. Because Tennessee third-generation doesn’t account for a major farmer. The flood may have a bigshare of the nation’s overall crop production, experts ger impact in West Tennesdon’t expect an effect on see, where more of the state’s crops are grown. market prices. Eugene Pugh, “It would have been a Farmer whole lot worse if it had mayor of Halls, Tenn., and a been a month from now Lauderdale County comrather than now,” said missioner, estimates that he Chuck Danehower, area has lost 150 acres of corn farm management specialist and 400 acres of cotton for eight West Tennessee from the flood. “I’ve been farming since counties with the University of Tennessee Extension 1965, and I’ve got water where I’ve never seen Service. before,” Pugh said.

“There’s no one alive in Tennessee today that has seen a storm of this magnitude”

Farmers have a choice

Farmers still face a choice between sticking with corn

“ I replaced my windows — and it was no big to-do!”

Getahn Ward covers business news for The Tennessean. He can be reached at 615-726-5968 or at gward@tennessean.com.

Pumps, vacuums, flooding supplies sell out quickly By Kevin Heim

THE TENNESSEAN

David Pastore-Theriaque’s basement in Madison was flooded with nine feet of water on Sunday night, and on Monday morning he was at the Home Depot in Inglewood. Like shoppers across the Midstate, Pastore-Theriaque encountered empty shelves where he had hoped to find sump pumps and wet/dry vacuums. Home Depot manager Scott Roop said the store expected an emergency shipment of pumps late Monday and would call anxious customers when it arrived. The Inglewood True Value Hardware on Gallatin Pike had been sold out of sump pumps since Saturday, when the biggest rains fell. Employee Richard Geer said people streamed in all weekend looking for gutters, pipes and fans to dry their saturated homes. Geer, who lives in Belle-

vue, hadn’t been home since Saturday. He saw video near his neighborhood on TV, and it didn’t look good. The story was similar on the south side of Nashville — the Home Depot on Powell Avenue across from 100 Oaks was out of sump pumps, box fans, dehumidifiers and generators at noon Monday. Store manager Ken McMahane was making a list of customers wanting those products. McMahane said Home Depot was diverting shipments from other stores in the South to Middle Tennessee, where the merchandise was needed the most. Julie Gibson was shopping for a moisture absorber at the Home Depot on Powell Avenue. Even though she had a sump pump to pull out the water, her home near 21st Avenue South and I-440 had a couple of inches in the basement. “We were glad we were in town,” said Gibson. “We are very lucky.”

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FLOOD OF 2010 FOURTH DAY OF COVERAGE

WEDNESDAY, MAY 5, 2010 Disaster declared, damage estimates begin


W E D N E S D AY, M AY 5, 2 0 1 0 • NA S H V I L L E

FLOOD OF 2010

‘NASHVILLE WILL RECOVER’ — MAYOR KARL DEAN AT NEWS CONFERENCE

Obama declares 4-county region disaster area PLEAS GO OUT TO SAVE WATER Damage estimates begin; costs likely in billions By Michael Cass and Brad Schrade THE TENNESSEAN

President Barack Obama declared four flood-ravaged Middle Tennessee counties a federal disaster area Tuesday as residents continued to battle ongoing water restrictions, power outages and traffic problems. The president’s declaration will send much-needed federal aid to help individuals and businesses in Davidson, Sumner, Williamson and Hickman counties recover from the historic flooding that submerged entire neighborhoods and left key segments of the region’s economy in tatters. Other counties are expected to get assistance later. “The assessment part goes forward, answering questions goes forward, and then we’ll actually move into the recovery process of digging out the city and repairing things,” Mayor Karl Dean said. “And that’ll take a lot of time. We don’t know right now what the full extent of the damage is. We know it’s great.” Preliminary damage estimates are in the hundreds of millions of dollars and probably billions, officials said, but the most immediate concern Tuesday continued to be maintaining clean water. Dean and others repeated pleas for residents to conserve, asking them to cut their water use in half. One of the city’s two water treatment plants remained submerged, and water

Construction worker Manuel Castro adds to the pile of debris from a flood-ravaged home on Delray Drive in the Richland Creek area. Early estimates say the damage in Middle Tennessee could run into the billions. SAMUEL M. SIMPKINS / THE TENNESSEAN

Sifting through sludge, tears Official aid scarce, but strangers ease agonizing process By Jennifer Brooks and Harriet Vaughan THE TENNESSEAN

In the flood-stricken neighborhoods of Nashville, the air is stifling hot, choked with the stench of mold and mildew and the fetid gunk that settled in carpets after rivers flowed back to their banks. The houses are turned inside out, their muddy contents spread on the lawns to dry under the curious gaze of hundreds of onlookers who cruise through the disaster zone, gawking. It’s been just days since the skies opened up over Tennessee and unleashed the flood of the century, and the slow, painful cleanup has only just begun. Allison Patton stood in her front yard Tuesday, clutching a

Elizabeth Patton, 15, cleans out her flooded room Tuesday with the help of her friends from Christ Presbyterian Academy who came en masse to assist her and her mother on Beech Bend Drive in Nashville. DIPTI VAIDYA / THE TENNESSEAN small jewelry box and crying with relief that one more keepsake had been salvaged from the wreckage of her home.

It was a pair of earrings, given to her by her husband, Bob. Bob Patton died in February, and his family had seen

more than enough grief before the Harpeth River came crashing through their back door. Even so, she put on a brave smile and went back to the cleanup. “Everybody’s in the same boat,” she said. “It’s not just us, it’s everybody.” “We’re lucky. Some people don’t have any help,” said her 15-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, waving to the front yard, where the entire ninth-grade football team from Christ Presbyterian Academy was cheerfully hauling mattresses and chairs and tables out onto the lawn. The players were joined by the school’s two cheerleading squads, who also came out to help with the cleanup. Like every other home along Beech Bend Road in Bellevue, Patton’s yard was heaped with muddy piles of furniture, clothes, crockery and waterlogged photo albums. Already, there was so much mildew and muddy sludge in the house that

>> DAMAGE, 2A

10 PAGES OF COVERAGE

■ FEMA aid helps, but isn’t a cure-all ■ Nashville urges less water use ■ Downtown toll worsens daily ■ Area counties try to recover

TENNESSEAN.COM LIVE CHAT: Beginning at noon today at Tennessean.com, editors will answer questions about the flood and its aftermath. VIDEOS: Flooding at Schermerhorn Symphony Center, crumbling roads and houses in a West Nashville neighborhood PHOTOS: Nashville landmarks flooded, cleanup efforts NEWS ALERTS: Sign up for breaking news alerts delivered by e-mail or cell phone. UPDATES: Continuously updated coverage throughout the cleanup

>> RECOVERY, 7A

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FLOOD OF 2010

2A • WEDNESDAY, MAY 5, 2010

THE TENNESSEAN

TN requests disaster aid for 52 counties >> DAMAGE FROM 1A

reserves plummeted to 37 percent. Seventeen storm-related deaths have been reported across the state. Davidson County was hit hardest with nine. The number in Davidson County was reduced from 10 after authorities determined one death was due to natural causes, not severe weather. At least one young man was still missing after he and some friends went tubing on Mill Creek after the weekend storm. Police also are trying to determine whether any homeless people are missing from a handful of known homeless camps in the area. “At this point we haven’t gotten any word of any homeless perishing in this flood, but it’s of great concern to us,” police spokeswoman Kris Mumford said. Updated numbers of peo-

ple staying in shelters were not available late Tuesday. On Monday, the American Red Cross said it was operating 17 emergency shelters throughout the region and housing about 900 people.

Federal aid is assured Obama’s declaration will bring immediate assistance to those affected by the storm, and it’s likely that additional counties will be included in the relief as the paperwork is filed. A dollar amount was not tied to the president’s announcement. Assistance can include low-cost loans for uninsured property owners, funds for temporary housing and home repairs, and other programs for residents and businesses. State and local governments, as well as nonprofits working with the affected counties, also may be eligi-

ble, according to a White House news release. “The federal government has moved quickly to assist Tennessee, and I appreciate the quick action by President Obama to declare the first of what I expect will be many counties authorized for federal assistance,” Gov. Phil Bredesen said in a statement. The state requested disaster assistance for 52 counties. Relief can’t come fast enough for Mark Carlisle. The 48-year-old private contractor spent two hours trapped in his attic on Sunday as floodwaters rose. A boat crew rescued him as the waters climbed to 8 feet inside the home on Delray Drive in the Nations neighborhood, which was flooded by Richland Creek. The waters moved in so fast Sunday that Carlisle lost everything, including his truck, about $20,000 worth of tools and his furniture.

Please put non-perishables at your mail box. Your letter carrier will deliver your donation to your local food bank.

He didn’t have flood insurance. “We need our government to step up and really do something,” Carlisle said. “Yesterday we had looters down here.” Many residents without flood insurance, such as Bellevue resident Malcolm Lyell, struggled to figure out how to move forward. “It’s something I’ve never had to do before, so I’m a rookie at it,” Lyell said, as he was pulling items out of his house. “Thankfully, I’ve got good friends and neighbors. You’ve just got to do what you do.”

Water levels worrisome The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the dams along the Cumberland River system, continued to express concerns about the water levels at various reservoirs. But the Corps is releasing water to try to bring the lake levels down in a controlled way without flooding areas downriver. The Corps timed releases Monday and Tuesday to help preserve Nashville’s lone functioning water treatment plant on Omohundro Drive, which came perilously close to getting flooded Monday night before the river crested. That would have knocked out the city’s drinking supply — a disaster Metro avoided by 8 inches. Corps engineers are in a race against Mother Nature. The goal in coming days is to reduce the water levels at Old Hickory Lake and Percy

Priest Lake, which are still high, before more rain comes. Clear skies are forecast through the weekend, except for isolated thunderstorms Friday. The system of locks and dams is designed to help control flooding and the flow of the river. “Anytime we’ve got water above where we’re supposed to be, we’re uncomfortable,” said Hershel Whitworth, a hydraulic engineer with the Corps. “Our ability to control the river is greatly diminished.” Officials from Metro and the Corps said the damaged levee at MetroCenter is structurally sound, though they continue to monitor it.

Assessment teams work As floodwaters started to drop, Dean said 40 assessment teams fanned out across southeastern Davidson County, completing more than 10 percent of the countywide damage assessment. Public Works Director Billy Lynch said the city should have “a pretty good picture” of the toll on roads, bridges and sidewalks sometime this weekend. Metro opened two disaster information centers Tuesday to provide general information to residents, and Dean said he expects two more to open today. The two centers that are already open are at Bellevue Community Center, 656 Colice Jeanne Road, and Coleman Community Center, 384 Thompson Lane.

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They’re open from noon to 8 p.m. Dean said the river should be back below flood stage at 40 feet by the end of the week. But the city is still asking residents and businesses to limit their water consumption — and struggling to get them to heed the warnings. Metro Water Services Director Scott Potter said the city’s water reserves, usually above 60 percent of capacity, had dropped Tuesday to 48 percent by 11 a.m. and 37 percent by 6 p.m. “That alarms me,” Potter said. State officials ordered residents in Davidson and Williamson counties to use water only for hygiene and health purposes. The flooding also continued to affect numerous other city services. Metro schools will remain closed today. MTA buses will resume limited service Thursday. And about 3,500 Nashville Electric Service customers remained without power, including businesses between First and Fifth avenues and Commerce and Demonbreun streets downtown, as well as much of the MetroCenter area, NES President and CEO Decosta Jenkins said. Dean said Music City would “fully recover and continue to be the great city that it is, a great place to live and a great place to visit.” “I do have this innate sense ... that we’re going to get over this relatively quickly. It’s not going to be easy. It’s going to involve a lot of money. It’s going to involve a lot of work. But we’ll get it done. And the city will keep moving forward as we’re doing it.” Staff writers Jaime Sarrio, Nate Rau, Brian Haas, Naomi Snyder, Getahn Ward and Janell Ross contributed. Information from The Associated Press also was used. Contact Michael Cass at 615-259-8838 or mcass@tennessean.com. Contact Brad Schrade at 615-259-8086 or bschrade@tennessean.com.

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THE TENNESSEAN

FLOOD OF 2010

WEDNESDAY, MAY 5, 2010 • 7A

THE PERSONAL TOLL FEDERAL ASSISTANCE President Barack Obama has declared a major disaster area in the state of Tennessee: ■ For now, help is available for individuals in Davidson, Williamson, Cheatham and Hickman counties in Middle Tennessee, but the governor expects others to follow. ■ To register, call the toll-free number 1-800621-FEMA (3362); Speech- or hearingimpaired callers can use the TTY number 1-800462-7585. Or go to www.Disaster Assistance.gov to register. ■ Information needed to register: name and Social Security number; address of the damaged property; current address and telephone number; insurance information; household annual income; bank routing and account number for direct deposit; description of losses.

The mayor and Metro Council members sit in on a flood briefing at the Emergency Operations Center in Nashville. President Barack Obama has declared the region a disaster area. MANDY LUNN / THE TENNESSEAN

FEMA disaster aid helps, but it won’t be a cure-all By Naomi Snyder

THE TENNESSEAN

Middle Tennessee residents and businesses devastated by the floods will get access to a host of resources now that President Barack Obama declared a major disaster for the region, including rental assistance, help with hotel bills, repair grants and low-interest loans. Many homeowners and businesses recently found out their insurance policies didn’t pay for flooding. Unfortunately, they may find federal aid is limited, too, as discovered in previous disasters. “Our role is to fill in the gaps,’’ said Kurt Pickering, a spokesman with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. “It is not intended to make you whole.”

Registering is the first step The first step for those seeking aid is to register, either by calling on the phone at 1-800-621-FEMA or registering online at www. DisasterAssistance.gov. FEMA coordinates the aid, even though the majority of the federal

help in dollar terms is in the form of low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration. Those loans are available to businesses and to homeowners needing to repair or replace damaged homes. FEMA may hand out checks within days of a disaster declaration to homeowners and businesses for temporary help, such as to pay hotel bills or for rental housing. But most needing long-term help with damaged and uninsured buildings will have to apply for a SBA loan.

Application process isn’t easy Others who have gone through the process haven’t always found it easy. “If folks want to rebuild, it’s not enough,’’ said Terry Gillim, a minister who coordinated local rebuilding efforts as president of Long Term Recovery of Macon County after the tornadoes there two years ago. “FEMA is there as a stop-gap for people who are not insured at all.” Gillim said residents in Lafayette after the tornadoes often

were confused or discouraged by the paperwork to get long-term aid. When the SBA rejected people for loans, they sometimes didn’t follow through and apply a second time for a grant through FEMA, he said. In a Tennessean analysis of the claims after the tornadoes, one in three SBA loans was approved totaling $7.7 million. “It was just a hassle with all the paperwork,’’ said Tim Hood, the owner of Rock and Roll Auto Sales, a used car dealership in Lafayette. Hood said he threw his SBA rejection letter in the trash after his dealership was destroyed in the tornadoes. He ended up getting a private loan to rebuild through a bank instead. “It wasn’t very much help,’’ he said. “In this area, I don’t know anyone they helped. The Red Cross and the Salvation Army were about the best thing here (after the tornadoes).”

Loans, grants are capped An SBA spokesman, Michael Lampton, said the SBA has to

Types of assistance

review the assets, debt and creditworthiness of applicants for longterm aid. Borrowers must be able to repay their loans. SBA disaster loans are capped at $200,000 to rebuild a home and up to $2 million for businesses. If homeowners or businesses aren’t eligible for a loan, they can apply for a grant, Lampton said. But less grant money is available for individuals. If homeowners lost a $150,000 house, for example, FEMA’s grant is capped at roughly $30,000, no matter what the total loss. Given the potential extent of the damage, Middle Tennessee could need a lot of help, especially because many homeowners and businesses did not have flood insurance. “You’ll find agents getting sued because they wouldn’t sell (flood insurance) to people,’’ said Rene Shoptaw, a commercial insurance broker. “There will be a lot of fallout from this months from now. Not everyone will be made whole. It’s very sad.” Contact business reporter Naomi Snyder at 259-8284 or nsnyder@tennessean.com.

Temporary housing (rent and lodging expense): Money to rent a different place to live or a temporary housing unit, such as a FEMAprovided travel trailer or mobile home, when rental properties are not available. Repair: Money for homeowners to repair or replace damage from the disaster that is not covered by insurance. The goal is to repair the home to a safe and sanitary living or functioning condition. FEMA’s repair assistance will not pay to return a home to its condition before the disaster. Other Needs Assistance: Money is available for necessary expenses and serious needs caused by the disaster, if the person is rejected for an SBA loan. This includes medical, dental, funeral, personal property, transportation, moving and storage, and other expenses that are authorized by law. FEMA will not pay for all damaged or destroyed personal property. Source: FEMA

The kindness of strangers aids in recovery >> RECOVERY FROM 1A volunteers needed a mask and gloves just to go inside. Like many other neighborhoods, residents here have been largely on their own as they begin the cleanup. They’ve seen no one from the Red Cross or FEMA, although a few emergency officials made the rounds in late afternoon, offering advice on debris removal and urging them to throw away clothes that had been stewing in the contaminated water. Most of the help they’ve had so far came from friends, family and a small army of total strangers. Volunteers have fanned out in the stricken neighborhoods, offering the small kindnesses that can mean the world to someone who’s about to hit rock bottom.

‘This is what ministry is’ Bobby Perkins sat under the hot spring sun at his West Hamilton home, anguished and exhausted. He and his family had spent the entire morning shifting soggy, moldy belongings out of his home, and the sweat was pouring off him in the 80-degree heat. Just as he was about to hang his head, a complete stranger walked up an offered him a cool drink of water. A spontaneous volunteer outreach from outside the North Nashville neighborhood offered water, food and a hand with the cleanup. “We don’t know what we’re going to do. I don’t know what we would do if these people didn’t come down here to help us. No one else is,” said Nicole Declouet, her voice choked with tears. No one in the neighborhood has seen any official rescue agencies. In the days since the flood, the only ones to reach out to this neighborhood filled with elderly

“I don’t know what we would do if these people didn’t come down here to help us. No one else is.” NICOLE DECLOUET

residents have been strangers. “It means the world to us. It’s our duty. We believe this is what ministry is,” said pastor Albert Jones of The Church of the Living God. Jones and two other church members have made close to 300 lunches. They went door-to-door Monday and Tuesday handing out food. They plan to make more throughout the week until the need is met, Jones said. In the West Nashville enclave known as The Nations, neighbors have knit together for mutual aid — and to fend off the looters and predators preying on vulnerable flood victims. “It’s hard to believe someone could be that low-down,” said Paul Bruckert, who learned Tuesday that looters had broken into his home on Delray Drive and stolen a bag of Harley riding gear he’d hidden in a closet. He and his Shih Tzu, Happy, rode out the flood in that house, when the water came bubbling up through the floor vents and rose so high that Happy went sailing around the house on a floating couch. Now volunteers, including armed guards from the nearby prison, are scrutinizing strangers to the street and running off the hucksters who come to scoop up the scrap metal or offer to “help” with the cleanup for a price.

Kristi Riggan goes through her jewelry box in the front yard of her home on Delray Drive near Richland Creek in West Nashville on Tuesday morning as the floodwaters recede and cleanup efforts begin. SAMUEL M. SIMPKINS / THE TENNESSEAN

Unfamiliar, welcome faces There are plenty of unfamiliar faces on the streets of The Nations these days, but most of them are welcome. A church van pulled up and young women hopped out with baskets of fresh fruit, paper towels and bottled water to share. Metro Councilman Buddy Baker donated 150 hamburgers and 150 hot dogs, and local landlord Robert Wiseman donated the grill that cooked Monday dinner for the whole street. Tiffany Israel from the nonprofit Neighborhoods Resource Center patrolled the street, trying

to find out who needs what. “We desperately need volunteers,” she said, ticking off her wish list. They need gloves, masks and cleaning supplies and volunteers strong enough to help lift heavy, waterlogged furniture and carpets. If people wanted to give a direct donation, residents could really use gift certificates to stores like Walmart, where they could begin replacing some of the essentials — things like clothes, underwear and cleaning products. Despite the heat, the stench and a cleanup job so huge it seems almost impossible, most neighbors were smiling. JoAnna Lick walked

up the street, triumphantly displaying two crucial items rescued from her home: her cat Lilly May and a bottle of white wine, still chilled from the refrigerator that had floated into her front room. Neighbor Annette Cantrell looked around her street, at the volunteers and the piles of debris that marked the cleanup. The flood brought some good along with all its misery, she said. “I didn’t know all my neighbors before this happened,” she said. “I know them all now.” Contact Jennifer Brooks at 615-259-8892 or jabrooks@tennessean.com.


FLOOD OF 2010

8A • WEDNESDAY, MAY 5, 2010

THE TENNESSEAN

HEROES OF THE STORM

Flood rescues tell dramatic tales

Saint Thomas executives lead seven sisters to safety

Andrea Silvia and Jamey Howell talk about how they survived the floodwaters after they were photographed by Rick Murray while clinging to the top of their swamped jeep (inset). MANDY LUNN / THE TENNESSEAN

Teen wonders how she lived when others didn’t Andrea Silvia and Jamey Howell clung to the roof rack of a Jeep Cherokee, the furious waters of Lower Station Camp Creek pulling at their shoes. It started as a trip to church, stalled by a flooded road near Station Camp High School that Howell hoped his Jeep could handle. As the water rushed inside, they called 911 and their parents. “I talked to her about survival. To fight with everything she ever had,” said Silvia’s mother, Angie Silvia. “I threw myself on the floor of the house and cried, begged and prayed to God nonstop.” For more than an hour, the couple clung to the

Cherokee and each other, screaming for help and praying. Their relatives looked on in terror from

200 yards away. Then Silvia, 19, and Howell, 18, had an idea. They’d release a backpack and see

which way the current carried it. If it veered into power lines, they’d know they couldn’t let go. It went the other way. “People think we were taken by the current, but we decided to jump on the count of three,” Silvia said. “I am so confused on how we lived and other people didn’t. We never talked about dying.” They swam with the current for about a mile, making for the shore at a clearing. They dragged themselves out of the water, and Silvia began crying. A lady in a nearby apartment complex let them use her phone. Family was there with towels in less than five minutes. — CHRIS ECHEGARAY

Police officer in tree yelled for assistance

Norm Shelton’s job on Sunday was to use his Belle Meade Police patrol car as a barrier to redirect traffic on Harding Road. Easy enough. Until the water started rising. The engine stalled. Shelton called for a wrecker. His car started floating before sinking with a thud. “I bailed out just before that,” Shelton said. A swift current carried him to Richland Creek, behind the Belle Meade Kroger. “I was lucky to get to a tree, and I hugged it for an hour and 15 minutes,” Shelton said. Shelton’s radio was waterlogged, and so was his cell phone. “I had no other way to communicate but to scream, ‘Help me,’ ” he said. “I was in a spot that I couldn’t be seen from the intersection, and finally somebody heard me and they came as fast they could.” Metro Rescue Squad made its way on a boat and plucked Shelton out of the water. He doesn’t remember his rescuers’ names, but he thanked them. “It worked out good for me,” he said. “A lot of people weren’t that lucky.” — CHRIS ECHEGARAY

Metro Fire Department Special Operations rescued Belle Meade police officer Norm Shelton near Harding Road on Sunday. Shelton had been clinging to a tree for more than an hour. SHELLEY MAYS / THE TENNESSEAN

The seven Daughters of Charity peered out from a second-story window, watching floodwaters moving from the yard of their house, up the first step, up the second step, into the living room. They called the police, but nobody came. Then they called neighboring Saint Thomas Hospital and got a CEO and two vice presidents. The sisters’ jobs range from Spanish translator to chairman of the board of Saint Thomas Health Services. But their combined experience proved worthless against swiftly moving water from nearby Richland Creek. “We were panicking, to tell the truth,” said Sister Mary Frances Loftin, the board chairman. Wes Littrell, CEO for Saint Thomas Affiliates, knew the sisters wouldn’t be safe much longer and beckoned some other executives. One vice president

tied a 50-foot rope to a rail and then around his waist, wading through chest-high water to the front door. Another lead the sisters, ranging in age from their 50s to their 80s, one by one to safety. “When we got the last sister out, here comes the fire truck,” Littrell said. “We said, ‘No, thank you.’ ” The women waited out the storm at The Wine Chap liquor store next door — which Loftin calls “The Wine Chapel” — with nothing more than the toothbrushes and combs they’d been instructed to take. When the rains stopped, the sisters’ refrigerator was floating in more than 4 feet of water. Nearly everything they owned was ruined. Littrell wonders if the house may have to be razed. While that’s being sorted out, they’re deciding between digs with the Sisters of Mercy or at St. Cecelia Academy. — HEIDI HALL

TSU professor Richard Browning, shown here with his grandson Alexander York, 6, was stranded in high water and rescued by the university president and others on Sunday. DIPTI VAIDYA / THE TENNESSEAN

Quest to save animals ends with rescue of professor Professor Richard Browning Jr. was trying to save his animals’ life — and it nearly cost him his own. Browning, a Tennessee State University researcher, went to the school’s 90-acre farm on Ed Temple Boulevard to save the goats and dogs there. He’d also moved them to higher ground and believed they’d be safe, until forecasts for the Cumberland’s flooding changed dramatically. Around 9 a.m. Sunday, Browning and a crew went to retrieve 200 goats and several dogs. Within minutes of beginning the rescue efforts, the water was above 6 feet. Browning began paddling in the freezing water, snakes slithering by. Mozells Byars Jr. and Roy Avery, university employees who help him on the farm, watched in horror

from high ground. They yelled for him to head for the bales of hay. Browning climbed to the top, shivering with the onset of hypothermia. They called TSU police, who notified university President Melvin Johnson. Johnson arrived at the scene. What happened next, Byars called heroic. “He told me, ‘Son, you can’t go back out,’ ” Byars said. “I have to go for you.” Johnson and others got into a small boat and grabbed Browning as medical staff arrived. “I don’t remember what happened and who took me out of the boat at that point,” Browning said. Browning was back on the farm Tuesday, using a paddleboat to get to the goats and feed them in a dry area. — CHRIS ECHEGARAY

CAPTURED MOMENTS AFTERMATH “Glad to see the only thing rising in Nashville now is love and support for one another (and from our friends in other places).” — JOE BURCHFIELD, posted to Facebook, 3:05 p.m. Tuesday NEIGHBORLY For two days, 22-year-old emergency telecommunicator Rachel Mure responded to 911 calls without knowing the state of her home or whether her dog was still alive inside. Monday afternoon, her next-door neighbors took a canoe to her house on Penn Meade Way near Opryland — skipping their own — to rescue her dog and salvage a few of her floating belongings. “It’s unbelievable the way these people have pulled together and are taking care of each other,” she said.

TIGHT HUG When Heather Peters of Franklin helped with rescue boats in Fieldstone Farms on Sunday, she saw a teenage girl carrying her cat and crying. All Peters could offer was a tight hug. “I just remember feeling overwhelmed for them with how they were going to get back on their feet,” Peters said. “I am hoping I was able to be a rainbow for that girl.”

Tennessee Titans center Kevin Mawae, left, offers assistance to Cottonwood homeowner Jim Atkins in Franklin. Mawae, who lives in a nearby neighborhood, said he had water in the crawl space of his home, but that was as high as it got.

THINKING AHEAD Carrie Brock’s house was not in danger, but she knew others’ were. Brock and other Otter Creek Church of Christ volunteers spent the greater part of Tuesday organizing and distributing donated clothing, bundles of dishes and sack lunches to flood victims in Bellevue and downtown Nashville. “If someone has lost everything, they may not be thinking about baby clothes now, but we know it will be coming soon.”

VOLUNTEER STATE “Just stopped by the church to drop off some food and diapers. The church members working greatly outnumbered the people needing help. What a great ‘problem’ to have!” — RENEE ALY of Pegram, posted to Facebook, 5:19 p.m. Monday


FLOOD OF 2010

THE TENNESSEAN

WEDNESDAY, MAY 5, 2010 • 9A

INFRASTRUCTURE ISSUES

Water shortage likely without conservation Residents asked to cut usage 50% during recovery A driver approaches the water on Allen Road in the Leanna community before turning around. AARON THOMPSON / GANNETT TENNESSEE

By Jaime Sarrio

Travel around city remains a struggle

Nashville’s fresh water reserves shrunk Tuesday, despite warnings urging residents to use less or face a shortage. Water treatment plants in Davidson and Williamson counties are operating at half capacity after record floods crippled the area, knocking out power and choking the infrastructure. City officials are pleading with residents to cut back until the facilities are at 100 percent. “People are using water faster than we’re making it,” said Scott Potter, director of Metro Water Services. “We need folks to stop using so much water.” The city is making 81 million gallons of fresh water a day, and buying five million from the West Wilson Utility district. But Nashville residents typically use about 100 million gallons a day, and Potter suspects anxious residents are hoarding water by filling up bathtubs and buckets. As a result, the city’s reserve supply, which makes up the difference, is being depleted. Monday, the reserve supply filled up 66 percent of available holding space but by Tuesday evening, it filled only 37 percent. “The treatment plant is operating normally and we’re making really good water,” he said. “But I think people aren’t appreciating the extraordinary nature of the emergency. They’re behaving normally and I need them not to do that.” Sunday, floodwaters swallowed Metro’s Donelson-area treatment plant and came close to wiping out the city’s other plant, a scenario that would have left Nashville with no running water. If the reserve supply continues to shrink, people in the outer areas of Davidson County will be most affected. Metro will still produce fresh water, but residents who live closest to the downtown treatment plant will get to it first. Residents are being asked to cut their usage by 50 percent. That means showering every other day, cutting back on laundry and dishwashing and not watering lawns or washing cars. Officials also need to be notified of any water main breaks so they can be repaired. To underscore the conservation message, the state issued an unprecedented mandate to Davidson and Williamson county residents to use water only for hygiene and drinking. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation won’t be handing out tickets, but it has the power to if necessary.

Interstates recover quickly, but many roads still closed By Brian Haas

THE TENNESSEAN

Davidson County’s streets, highways and interstates slowly churned back to life Tuesday, with the majority of the main arteries passable. But getting in and around the city remained a challenge. “All the interstates around Nashville are good,’’ said Winston Gaffron, Middle Tennessee regional director for the Tennessee Department of Transportation. There continue to be problem spots, to be sure. The pavement has crumbled in one westbound lane of Interstate 24 near Mill Creek, Gaffron said. Vietnam Veterans Boulevard in Sumner County, the main artery commuters use to get to Interstate 65 and then into Nashville, could be closed for up to 48 more hours, Hendersonville Mayor Scott Foster said. It wasn’t uncommon for the commute from Hendersonville to Nashville on Tuesday morning to take more than two hours as drivers used Gallatin Road as an alternative. Hendersonville resident Eliza-

beth Lance, who works at Regions Bank in downtown Nashville, left for work at 8 a.m. Tuesday. She didn’t arrive until nearly 11 a.m. “I knew what it was and I knew it would be bad. But I didn’t think it would be 2½ hours,” she said. Still, she took it in stride. “I talked to all my relatives, and I had a book on tape.” Briley Parkway near Opryland could be closed “maybe another day or two,” Gaffron said, as could Briley Parkway near Centennial Boulevard. For those going west of Nashville, State Route 70 is expected to be completely blocked for a few days because of a rockslide near Pegram. Downtown Nashville also had closures, particularly along the Cumberland River on streets such as First Avenue through Fourth Avenue between Union Street and Korean War Veterans Boulevard. The next challenge could be damaged roads and sinkholes. Two massive sinkholes on Morrow Road at Delaware Avenue swallowed a pickup truck and two cars Tuesday as the road simply gave way in two spots. Highway 100 in southwest Davidson County, on the other hand, has completely reopened. “We’re getting in better shape,” Gaffron said.

ROAD CLOSURES AS OF TUESDAY Downtown Nashville: ■ First Avenue South through Fourth Avenue South from about Korean War Veterans Boulevard to Union Street ■ Rosa Parks Boulevard between James Robertson Parkway and Jefferson Street ■ Fourth Avenue North between Third Avenue and Jackson Street ■ Second Avenue North between Main Street and Madison Street ■ North First Street between James Robertson Parkway and Hancock Street ■ Cleveland Street between North First Street and Joseph Avenue

■ All of Richards Road ■ Antioch Pike from Harding Place to the Sorghum Branch stream ■ Fourth Avenue South/ Nolensville Pike at the Browns Creek bridge

East:

North:

■ Briley Parkway between just north of Lebanon Pike and McGavock Pike ■ Old Hickory Boulevard between Andrew Jackson Parkway and Juarez Drive ■ Andrew Jackson Parkway between Old Hickory Boulevard and Old Lebanon Dirt Road ■ Old Lebanon Dirt Road from Dodson Chapel Road to Andrew Jackson Parkway

■ Vietnam Veterans Parkway near the Sumner County line

West:

South: ■ Blue Hole Road from Antioch Pike to Pettus Road ■ Pettus Road from Old Hickory Boulevard to Sundown Drive ■ All of Reeves Road

■ Old Harding Pike between Sawyer Brown Road and Poplar Creek Road ■ All of Morton Mill Road ■ All of Doral Country Drive ■ River Trace near Ashland City Highway ■ McCrory Lane between I-40 and Highway 70

THE TENNESSEAN

Conserving is critical The average household uses 170 gallons per day for showering, laundry and dishes. Halting outdoor watering, car washing and other non-essential uses is the best way to save, said Robert C. Renner, executive director of the water research foundation, a nonprofit based in Denver. A running water hose typically uses 18 gallons per minute,

The Omohundro Water Plant is pumping out good water, Metro says, but it can’t keep up with the current demand. SAMUEL M. SIMPKINS / THE TENNESSEAN

As the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers releases water from Percy Priest Dam on Tuesday to help manage floodwaters that shut down one water treatment plant, Mercer Adams tries a little bank fishing. “The current’s just too strong” he said. LARRY MCCORMACK / THE TENNESSEAN

while watering your lawn can use up to 250 gallons per cycle. Tuesday, Metro police driving around the city were asking car washes to close and for businesses to turn off their sprinklers. Rumors were circulating that Metro planned to stop water service, prompting some residents to turn into conservation activists. Sandy Jones, who runs National Car Wash along with her husband and son, said she got nasty phone calls from residents who were angry the business hadn’t been shut down. But floodwaters kept Jones and her family from leaving their home in Lebanon until Tuesday. “They were saying, ‘We can’t give water to our babies and you’re washing cars. We know you’re all about the money, but save water,’ ” she said. “But even if we had wanted to close washes, we could not get to them.”

Mafiaoza’s Pizzeria and Pub on 12th South brought in three outdoor port-a-potties and two hand-washing stations for customer to help conserve water. The restaurant also switched to paper products, canned drinks and bottled water. “We cut our water use down by 60 or 70 percent,” said Lars Kopperud, co-owner of the restaurant. “We’re trying to make a good effort. This is essentially the brown-out of water.” Kopperud said the restaurant went into crisis management mode on Sunday to make sure operations could continue. Employees still use water to wash their hands and when needed to make sure they are up to code. “A restaurant is a moving piece of machinery — it doesn’t stop,” he said. Christina Sanchez contributed to this report. Contact Jaime Sarrio at jsarrio@tennessean.com or 615-726-5964.

County inmates help save Nashville’s water supply By Nate Rau

THE TENNESSEAN

Davidson County Sheriff’s Department inmates Joseph Taylor, right, and Josh VanKirk make sandbags on Monday. Some inmates worked in chest-deep water to help save the Omohundro Water Treatment Plant. SHELLEY MAYS / THE TENNESSEAN

Davidson County’s water supply was saved Monday thanks to the sandbagging efforts of 400 prisoners from the county jail. The Omohundro Water Treatment Plant, the city’s only functioning treatment facility, came within one foot of being overcome by the flooded Cumberland River. As a result, the county’s water supply avoided contamination and Nashville was able to dodge going strictly to bottled water. “It felt real good,” said Allen Rogers, a 49-year-old Nashville man jailed at the county lock-up for failure to pay child support. “It

felt like we did something for our county and made it better for our city.” The Davidson County Sheriff’s Department was asked to begin assembling sandbags on Sunday. In total, inmates put together 500 tons of sandbags, which were used at the water treatment plant and at the damaged levee at MetroCenter. About 400 inmates, who volunteered to do the sandbagging, put in 36 consecutive hours of work to save the treatment center. According to sheriff’s department spokeswoman Karla Weikal, every inmate held at the county jail volunteered to do the work. According to Rogers, inmates

were working in chest-deep water at the water treatment facility late Monday. “It was very close,” Rogers said. “It was coming up the steps … we had to go out and get into the water. Guys got wet in the face, they were hit with debris, but we kept working.” As of Tuesday, county inmates were still working, handing out water and preparing to participate in cleanup efforts. “People who live in different neighborhoods need water, and we want to get it to them as soon as we can,” Rogers said. Reach Nate Rau at 615-259-8094 or nrau@tennessean.com.


10A • WEDNESDAY, MAY 5, 2010

FLOOD OF 2010

THE TENNESSEAN

THE HEART OF THE CITY 24

Rising water in the Grand Ole Opry house has ruined many of the trappings of Nashville’s musical heritage. CHRIS HOLLO / FOR THE TENNESSEAN

Soggy note hits music history By Peter Cooper

THE TENNESSEAN

40 65

Economic toll of damage downtown worsens daily By Nate Rau

THE TENNESSEAN

The combination of flood damage and the loss of electricity left downtown businesses in a painful state of limbo Tuesday with untold millions of dollars in revenue being lost on a daily basis. Some of downtown’s largest and most recognizable buildings were trying to assess how severe the damage was. The Pinnacle Building, which houses one of the city’s largest, most prestigious law firms, had 35 feet of water in its underground parking garage and lower levels. Keith Simmons, the managing partner at Bass, Berry & Sims, said it was too soon to know how much of the firm’s more than “seven-figure” weekly income would be lost. “It’s hard to say at this point,” Simmons said. “People are still working, they’re just not as efficient. We’re not going to really know how much business we’ve (lost) until a few weeks down the road.”

Power could stay out A spokeswoman for the Nashville Electric Service said power in and around downtown could be out until at least Friday. The downtown Hilton had moved its 300 customers to other hotels in and around Nashville, general manager Ray Waters said. The building had about 28 feet of water in its garage, but it was the power outage, not the flood damage, that left operations crippled. Waters said the hotel had not calculated how much lost revenue or building damage it had suffered, but acknowledged that the hotel probably would be out for “the next day or two.” Like many Nashville residents, the downtown Hilton did not have flood insurance coverage, Waters said. The same was true for Mac McDonald, one of the owners of the Pilcher Building, which houses law offices. McDonald was scrambling to call his insurance provider Tuesday to find out if their policy

The Schermerhorn Symphony Center’s main concert hall was spared, but its basement filled with water, destroying a pipe organ and two concert pianos, and damaging the center’s kitchen. JOHN PARTIPILO / THE TENNESSEAN would cover the damage. “Right now, we don’t know how much damage we have,” McDonald said. Bridgestone Arena was still working Tuesday to pump water out of its main level, where flood levels reached about a foot. Nashville Predators spokesman Gerry Helper said crews were working to pump water out of the building. The arena benefited from the fact that no events are planned at the arena until a James Taylor and Carole King concert set for May 22. Government operations were affected, as well. Metro officials were still assessing damages to public buildings, but court operations were scheduled to resume today, said Tommy Bradley, chief administrative officer of the Davidson County Criminal Court Clerk’s office. Seven state government buildings were scheduled to be closed today, including the State Records Center at Jefferson and Spring streets. “Many of our records are now electronic as opposed to paper, but much of what’s there are routine business records as opposed to any-

thing with true historical value, but still the state is still required to keep them for a period of time,” state spokeswoman Lola Potter said.

Attractions lose revenue Apart from building damages, marquee businesses were beginning to calculate lost revenue. Honky-tonks along Lower Broadway were still up and running, but the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum was not so fortunate. The power outage saw the Hall of Fame shut down for a third straight day, which museum Director Kyle Young said had already meant an estimated $75,000 in lost revenue. The building’s countless country music collections and instruments were not damaged, he said. The question now, Young said, was how long the Hall of Fame would be shut down. “All things considered, we came through in great shape,” he said. The Schermerhorn Symphony Center received relatively good news when the

Only a few people were around Tuesday to listen to Westley Butler at Tootsies Orchid Lounge on Lower Broadway. JOHN PARTIPILO / THE TENNESSEAN building’s main concert hall was spared from flood damage. The center did suffer damage to a multimilliondollar pipe organ and two concert pianos. “We lost a great deal in the basement — two concert pianos, our organ console — and our kitchen is underwater,” said Alan Bostick, senior communications director for the Nashville Symphony. “The river was rising, and the water got within 8 to 10 inches of getting to the Concert Hall level and then began to

recede. We have dodged a huge bullet and feel very, very grateful about that bit of news.” The symphony has been forced to rethink the upcoming concerts at least for the next month. “Our hope is that we can arrange secondary locations in the Nashville area where we can present certain upcoming concerts,” Bostick said. Nicole Young, Ellen Margulies and Clay Carey contributed to this story. Reach Nate Rau at 615-259-8094 or nrau@tennessean.com.

The common denominator is water. Water on the wooden circle scuffed by Hank Williams’ own boot heels. Water bending hundreds of wooden instruments at Soundcheck Nashville rehearsal studio, and halting production of Gibson guitars. Water destroying historical documents at the Grand Ole Opry House and at WSM-AM’s Opryland Hotel offices. For musical Nashville, much — no one is sure how much — has been lost to this water. The Grand Ole Opry House is a soggy mess. On Tuesday, water covered the Opry House floor, save for four rows of seats in back. Water covered the stage, including the legendary sixfoot circle of wood taken from the Opry’s old Ryman Auditorium home and placed into the Opry House’s stage in 1974. The circle may be broken. Guitars and rhinestone suits were ruined as the water filled backstage halls, lockers and dressing rooms. The Opry was held Tuesday at downtown’s War Memorial Auditorium; the Opry is a show, not a building, Opry vice president and general manager Pete Fisher said. That show will move between several venues. This weekend, it’s at the Ryman. It will air on WSMAM 650, a station that is now broadcasting from its Brentwood transmitter site rather than its Opryland Hotel home. WSM’s Opryland studio remains dry, but its nearby offices were soaked up to the third floor. Papers, archives and memories. All gone but the last. At Gibson USA on Massman Drive and Soundcheck Nashville on Cowan St., the damage is enormous. Soundcheck is the biggest enclosed rehearsal studio in the world, and it houses instruments and tour sets. There’ll be no access at waterlogged Soundcheck until at least Thursday, and Gibson was off limits as of Tuesday afternoon. “Water did get into the factory,” Gibson USA general manager Gary Fader said. “We have not had a chance to go into the building. There will be supply disruption for some amount of time.” Tuesday afternoon did hold some easier news. At the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, water rose to within 12 inches of the concert hall floor, then eased down. The flood destroyed two Steinway pianos, an organ console, a kitchen and offices, but officials there nonetheless feel they dodged a bullet. At the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, the Ford Theater took on three inches of water, but historical documents and instruments hung safe and dry, 75 feet above the damage. The Ryman is fine, as are all Ernest Tubb Record Shop locations. But the Opry House looks like a drowning victim. “We had a flood in 1975,” Opry stalwart Bill Anderson said. “When that was over, they said, ‘We’ve taken measures now, and this will never happen again.’ ” And yet it did. Reach Peter Cooper at 615-259-8220 or pcooper@ tennessean.com.


FLOOD OF 2010

THE TENNESSEAN

WEDNESDAY, MAY 5, 2010 • 11A

ACROSS THE REGION

Counties start to pick up pieces MONTGOMERY COUNTY

WILLIAMSON COUNTY

Soldiers join salvage work on homes

Mary’s Music, near the pedestrian bridge of the Cumberland RiverWalk, was among Riverside Drive businesses inundated by floodwaters this week. Mary’s has flood insurance and owners are hoping for a solid business recovery. GREG WILLIAMSON / GANNETT TENNESSEE

Power returns to most, but other issues linger

Montgomery County continued its 8 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew Tuesday for areas affected by flooding, particularly along Riverside Drive, Southern Parkway and downtown Clarksville. Most homes in the county had power restored Tuesday, but water continued to be a problem, said county spokeswoman Elizabeth Black. “The Red River is going down pretty quickly, but the Cumberland River is just not stabilized at this point,” Black said Tuesday. The county had performed nearly 150 rescues and had one possible storm-related death Monday morning, she said. Road closures included sections of Highway 48/13, and the Cunningham Bridge was shut to all but emergency vehicles. Officials from Clarksville Gas and Water and other area utilities had a simple message for residents: The water supply is OK. They are, however, still urging residents to conserve to reduce the amount of sewage being put into the system. Though the Water Treatment

Plant is fully functional, Clarksville Gas and Water General Manager Pat Hickey said, the Wastewater Treatment Plant has been underwater since Monday, when employees were forced to evacuate and the facility was shut down. With the treatment plant inoperable, Clarksville’s sewage has been flowing directly into the Cumberland River. And the city isn’t alone. Tisha Calabrese-Benton, a spokeswoman for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, said a number of facilities upstream have been shut down, as well. While the city’s drinking water is still being kept clean — and tested for quality regularly, Hickey said — overflow from the river is anything but. “Whether it be sewage, or chemicals or petroleum products, we don’t really know what’s in that water,” Benton said. Because of the possibility of disease, state health officials are urging residents to stay out of flooded areas and wash thoroughly with soap if contact occurs. — BRIAN HAAS, THE TENNESSEAN BRIAN EASON, GANNETT TENNESSEE

CUMBERLAND RIVER FLOOD LEVELS The Cumberland River was well over flood stage after Nashville and surroundingareas were hit with more than 13 inches of rain in two days.

At Nashville

Observed

Peak: 51.86 in. at 5:30 p.m. May 3

Forecast Record stage: 56.2 Jan. 1, 1929

Flood stage: 40

Below flood level 4 a.m. Thursday

— GANNETT TENNESSEE Hash marks indicate 6 p.m.

May 1 May 2

May 3

May 4 Today Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday

At Clarksville

Observed

Forecast

Peak: 62.58 in. at 7 a.m. May 4 Record stage: 57.1 March 14, 1975 Flood stage: 46

Below flood level 7 p.m. Friday

Hash marks indicate 6 p.m.

May 1 May 2

May 3

May 4

Today Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday

SOURCE: The National Weather Service

THE TENNESSEAN

RUTHERFORD COUNTY

‘We’re doing better than Nashville right now’ Rutherford County was largely spared some of the worst flooding, with the exception of La Vergne and Smyrna, which still had water over several roads Tuesday. “We’re a little drier today,” said Rutherford County Emergency Management Agency Director Roger Allen. “We’re doing better than Nashville right now.” He expected most roads opened and most power outages restored by this morning, but some homes could be without power for a few days. Allen hoped to have numbers on damaged and destroyed homes today or Thursday. Rutherford County Emergency Management Agency estimates put total rainfall amounts in Murfreesboro at 8 inches over two days with 10- to 12- inch estimates in the Smyrna and La Vergne areas. The west fork of the Stones River crested

Monday afternoon at 24 feet pushing 24,000 cubic feet of water per second, said EMA Assistant Director Tim Hooker. In La Vergne, Mayor Ronnie Erwin said he was still working with residents and business owners to assess the damage and aid them in cleanup. “We will have more details on how many homes and businesses have been affected (today),” he said. “We plan to focus on residential areas first and then businesses.” Erwin said he has heard from people who want to volunteer with cleanup in the city. Those who need that help can call 615355-3000. “I’m really impressed with how many people called to volunteer, but to be honest I could use more,” he said. Those wishing to volunteer can call La Vergne City Hall at 615-793-6295, he said. Dewayne Sadler, owner of Lit-

John Parker and Roger Longe carry a mattress out of a flooded home on Powell’s Chapel Road in Walter Hill. AARON THOMPSON / GANNETT TENNESSEE

tle Caesar’s Pizza in La Vergne, was cleaning his store Tuesday. “We’re still estimating on how much damage was done,” he said. “We were able to get back into the store fairly quickly and did some cleanup already, but water was able to get into the store. We had a couple of inches across the floor.” Overall, though, Sadler feels

blessed that no one at his store was injured by the flooding. It’s still hard for Sadler to believe what happened. “I would have never guessed it could get that bad,” he said. “I’ve lived in Tennessee for 41 years, and I’ve never seen the rain get this bad.”

Commuter rail nearly cleared Wilson County officials counted themselves among the luckier in the Nashville area Tuesday. “We haven’t had a problem today, power or water or sewer,” said John Jewell, director of Wilson County’s Emergency Management Agency. “We’ve been very fortunate in that department.” The county was still dealing with some flooding, particularly in western Wilson County and in Lebanon, where more than 10 inches of rain were measured on Oak Street over the weekend. The county dealt with a handful of road closures because of some persisting floodwater, but Jewell said the Music City Star train tracks were close to being cleared. He didn’t expect service to return for a few days. “They’ve got two or three washouts between here and Nashville, but they’re working on it.” He didn’t have a count of destroyed or damaged homes, which are categorized by what percentage of the property is damaged. But he said some homes didn’t look good. “I think we may have a couple of onehundred-percenters,” he said glumly.

One of the biggest headaches remaining in the county is Vietnam Veterans Boulevard, which is expected to remain closed for at least another 24 to 48 hours and caused nightmare commutes Tuesday morning of up to 3 hours into Nashville. Much of

HICKMAN COUNTY

Families await evacuation

the traffic instead filtered to Gallatin Pike, which was gridlocked for much of the morning. Weidner said waters were still closing some roads in the county and several bridges have been damaged.

Anywhere from 100 to 150 families remained trapped Tuesday in Hickman County because of floodwater. Though the families were isolated, all were deemed to be safe and were just awaiting rescue, said Kevin Campbell, an administrator at Hickman Community Hospital. Water and crumbling pavement also caused several significant road closures across Hickman County during the day. “The main roads are getting closed because there’s been some roadway failures where they’re collapsing in,” Campbell said. He said Highway 100 had closures from Mill Creek to the Hill community. The Tennessee Department of Transportation also closed the Mill Creek bridge on 100 indefinitely because the approaches have “deteriorated” making it unsafe to cross.

— BRIAN HAAS, THE TENNESSEAN

— BRIAN HAAS, THE TENNESSEAN

— MARK BELL, GANNETT TENNESSEE BRIAN HAAS, THE TENNESSEAN

Emergency official: Rescue phase winding down rescue phase was winding down as the rivers and creeks receded. “Now that we’re hopefully through the rescue phase, we’re really interested in making sure that people are sheltered and the people who are displaced get what they need,” he said.

WILSON COUNTY

— BRIAN HAAS, THE TENNESSEAN

SUMNER COUNTY

Sumner County spent Tuesday continuing to rescue trapped residents, said Emergency Management Agency Director Ken Weidner. He expected rescues to top at least 500 by the time the calls stop coming in. Still, he said the

FRANKLIN — Volunteers, including soldiers from Fort Campbell, fanned out across Williamson County on Tuesday to help rip out carpet, clear debris and shovel mud out of homes and yards. A large contingent was in the Cottonwood subdivision, north of Franklin near where the big Harpeth River meets the West Harpeth, where flooding was widespread. “People I don’t even know were coming to check on me,” said Amy Perdue of Countryside Drive, which saw up to two feet of flooding in some homes. The scope of the damage still is impossible to measure, but the City of Franklin and Williamson County offered free building permits for repair work to try to get a dollar figure. “That will give them documentation of the damage and the extent of the damage that they have in their homes,” said Franklin City Administrator Eric Stuckey. Federal Emergency Management Agency officials should meet with county and city officials this week to discuss the toll of the storm. “If there’s a tornado, we’re out the next morning looking at damaged homes,” Property Assessor Dennis Anglin said. “It’s easy to assess tornado damage ’cause you just follow the path. In this case, with widespread flooding, it’s just not that simple. For example in my neighborhood (Hillsboro Acres) 10 homes flooded, but now the only way to tell is if someone has furniture out in the front or backyard.” In the Horseshoe Bend subdivision on the Davidson County line, volunteers were moving water-damaged couches, muddy carpet and other soaked possessions out of about 10 houses that back up to the Little Harpeth River.


14A • WEDNESDAY, MAY 5, 2010

FLOOD OF 2010

THE BUSINESS FALLOUT

THE TENNESSEAN

Mother’s Day is May 9

Gas shortage no threat, but prices may rise some By Getahn Ward THE TENNESSEAN

Expect some lingering spot shortages of fuel at area gas stations, but no real threat of a gasoline shortage or runaway fuel prices, independent analysts and distributors say. Still, several storage terminals in the Nashville area remained shut down because of high water, and fuel wholesalers were scrambling to haul in gasoline and diesel from distant locations to avoid bigger problems later this week. Exxon Mobil, Marathon Petroleum Co., Citgo and BP Products North America said that their area storage terminals were still closed late Tuesday. Sherry Boldt, a spokeswoman for BP, however, said that its local terminal could reopen by noon today. Marathon said it had shut down its two fuel storage terminals here and was redirecting customers to bring in gasoline from other terminals in Owensboro, Ky., and Knoxville. Mike Williams, executive director of the Tennessee Petroleum Council, which represents refineries and fuel suppliers, said it could take a while for two of the 10 fuel terminals in the Nashville area to reopen amid flooding and lost power. Most of the others have either very minor damage or could be put back in operation no later than Thursday, Williams said. Emily LeRoy, executive director with the Tennessee Fuel and Convenience Store Association, said fuel supplies looked adequate. “We’re getting plenty of supply in,” said LeRoy, whose group represents wholesale fuel distributors and convenience store own-

69 Jones New York $

A tanker leaves the Magellan terminal on 63rd Avenue in Nashville with gasoline for convenience stores and service stations. G. CHAMBERS WILLIAMS III / THE TENNESSEAN ers. “What consumers are seeing are some local distribution issues because of all the rains and closed roads.” Fernando Garay, a spokesman with Citgo, said that its Nashville terminal has been closed since Sunday. On Tuesday morning, the company said there were signs of a chemical sheen on the water in the vicinity of the terminal. A contractor was called in to deploy a containment boom and cleanup efforts began.

Losses remain unclear Many other businesses continued to deal with the after-effects of the weekend storms. At Parman Energy, a fuel and lubricants distributor on Cockrill Bend Boulevard, the company’s headquarters building remained partly under water, and a gasoline tanker was sitting halfway submerged Tuesday afternoon. Nearby, the offices and warehouse of Sound Image, which provides sound equipment for big tours, was spared damages, although rising waters had crept near its back door,

sound engineer Pete McDonough said. “We stacked up sandbags, so we were somewhat protected, even if the water had gotten higher,” McDonough said. Fifth Third Bank economist John Augustine said economic losses from the flood should emerge more clearly in the days ahead. Homeowners and businesses without flood insurance will take the biggest financial hits. “There will be haves and have-nots. This is a terrible human tragedy, of course, but there is an economic impact on the other side. I don’t think anyone knows yet the extent to which (business) projects will be lost or delayed. Everyone is trying to sort through that.” The Fifth Third analyst doesn’t expect runaway gas prices. He said a spot check of the area found most service stations selling gasoline between $2.75 and $2.95 per gallon. That’s not substantially more than the $2.76 per gallon average price a few days before the flood.

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LOCAL & BUSINESS B

WEDNESDAY, MAY 5, 2010 THE TENNESSEAN

BREAKING NEWS ON YOUR CELL

Text TNNEWS to 44636 (4INFO) for breaking news updates as they happen.

FLOOD OF 2010 “We’re not going back. It’s not a fit place for people to live.” REGINALD “VEGAS” WATSON, Tent City resident

Schools likely will end on time

Education commissioner says he’ll grant waivers for flood days By Chas Sisk

THE TENNESSEAN

Longtime Tent City resident Harold Labelle rests close to the entrance with his dog and the possessions he could save. The Tent City site is under water, and most of the residents are gone. “I guess that’s the end of my home,” Labelle said. PHOTOS BY JOHN PARTIPILO / THE TENNESSEAN

Tent City is destroyed Homeless flee to dry refuges

By Bob Smietana THE TENNESSEAN

Tent City is gone. The embattled homeless encampment, just off of Hermitage Avenue, which has escaped several shutdown notices from Metro police, was washed away by the weekend’s flooding. About 120 people were evacuated from the camp on Sunday, with the help of volunteers from local churches. They left their few possessions behind. Most escaped with little more than the clothes on their backs. Reginald “Vegas” Watson, 45, a member of

the residents council that helped organize Tent City, said the camp is uninhabitable. The property is covered with diesel fuel from a nearby ruptured storage tank and waste from overturned portable toilets. “We’re not going back,” he said. “It’s not a fit place for people to live.” Watson and about 70 other residents are staying at a Red Cross shelter setup at Lipscomb University. Others are at Green Street Church of Christ and Woodbine Cumberland Presbyterian Church and other local shelters, or are staying in hotels or with friends. A group of volunteers from local churches and

NEIGHBORHOOD SECTIONS PRINTED EARLY

Josh Patterson stands near the entrance of flooded Tent City, which was his home. homeless advocates are looking for a new temporary site for Tent City before the emergency shelters close down.

“The folks will literally have no place to go,” Watson said.

>> TENT CITY, 2B

Students probably will not be asked to stay late because of flooding, as state and local officials said they are not inclined to extend a school year. Officials at Metro Nashville Public Schools said they plan to ask the Tennessee Department of Education for a waiver from the state’s minimum number of school days, as floodwaters followed heavy snows in forcing the district to run through all of the extra days built into the academic calendar. Representatives for other large local districts likewise said they plan to seek waivers or would not need to do so to end on time. Education Commissioner Tim Webb said Tuesday that he intends to grant waivers to any district that asks for one because of flooding. The decision means most local students will not be asked to report beyond the previously scheduled end of their school years. Education officials said there was little reason to extend the year because most standardized tests have been administered and schools were already winding down the year. Metro Schools are scheduled to wrap up their spring semester May 27. Officials said they were not certain when Nashville schools would reopen. Classes were canceled for today as officials monitored road conditions. Williamson County schools reopened Tuesday, and they are set to reopen today in Sumner and Rutherford counties. Officials in those counties said they still had enough days stockpiled in their academic calendars to make up the lost days without extending the year. School also will resume today in Wilson County. There, the school board voted Monday night to have students report May 28, which had been scheduled as a teacher planning day. The last day of school in Wilson County will be May 29, a half day when students will report to pick up report cards. Reach Chas Sisk at 615-259-8283 or csisk@tennessean.com.

Today’s editions of Davidson A.M., Wilson A.M., Franklin Review Appeal, Brentwood Journal and The Journal of Spring Hill & Thompson’s Station were printed before flooding hit Middle Tennessee.

EPA offers 2 sets of coal ash rules

Would-be soldiers too heavy to enlist

Industry prefers state guidelines By Anne Paine

45% of young adults in TN aren’t eligible

THE TENNESSEAN

By Christina E. Sanchez THE TENNESSEAN

When Tennesseans get the call to fight, most of the young adults in the Volunteer State may have to stand down. Nearly 75 percent of young adults in the country would be ineligible to enlist in the military because of lack of education, criminal records and obesity, according to a recent report from retired military leaders.

Suzanne Gilliam takes a break from her workout at the Smyrna YMCA. She is losing weight so she can enlist in the Army. She has lost 79 pounds. SANFORD MYERS / THE TENNESSEAN And the biggest culprit in Tennessee has been expanding waistlines, making about 45 percent of the state’s 18- to 24-yearolds too fat to serve in the military. About 27 percent of young adults nationwide weigh too much.

REPORT NEWS 259-8068 OR FAX 259-8093 OR E-MAIL: LOCAL@TENNESSEAN.COM

The retired senior military leaders say it is an issue of national security. “If you’re in Iraq and you’re in a firefight and you get wounded, someone has to be able to drag

>> ENLIST, 6B

The Environmental Protection Agency plans to begin regulating coal ash as a waste material, as environmentalists have asked for decades, but the level of oversight is the remaining question. The agency announced Tuesday that it would seek public comment on two options, one of which could be enforced by federal and state governments. The other, preferred by industry, would give guidelines that states could adopt if they choose to. The EPA decision, postponed from last year, comes after TVA’s

massive coal ash spill in December 2008 drew national attention to the problems of leaving piles of toxic ash in unlined ponds and landfills in the wake of burning coal for electricity. Both options offer protections for health and environment that don’t exist now, said EPA Commissioner Lisa Jackson. Coal ash contains arsenic, mercury, cadmium and other hazardous matter that can cause cancer and other serious health effects if it makes its way into groundwater and drinking water wells. “Right now, it’s not regulated. It’s exempt,” she said in a telephone conference with reporters Tuesday afternoon.

>> ASH, 8B

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LOCAL & STATE NEWS

2B • WEDNESDAY, MAY 5, 2010

THE TENNESSEAN

FLOOD OF 2010

CLEANUP AND RECOVERY DISASTER INFORMATION CENTERS

an insurance company, call the Department of Commerce and Insurance at 1-800-342-4029. ■ Hire only licensed contractors. To verify a license, call 1-800-544-7693 or check online at http://licsrch. state.tn.us/. ■ For noninsurance issues, call the consumer affairs hot line at 1-800-3428385.

The city’s disaster service centers are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day; lawyers will be on hand to help anyone who needs assistance. No appointments are needed. The centers are set up at the following locations: Bellevue Community Center, 656 Colice Jeanne Road; Coleman Community Center, 384 Thompson Lane; East Community Center, 700 Woodland St.; Hadley Park Community Center, 1037 28th Ave. N.; Hermitage Community Center, 3720 James Kay Lane.

GOING HOME

DEBRIS Metro Public Works has issued guidelines for placing debris at curbside for collection: All items and materials must be separated into four piles and placed at the curb or street side. If the debris is not separated, it will not be collected. 1. White goods and metals (appliances, etc.). 2. Construction and demolition debris (lumber, windows, etc.). 3. Vegetation (brush, limbs and all other yard waste). 4. Household trash and garbage (including carpet). Items should not be placed in public alleys. Alleys need to remain clear for emergency crews and trash collection services. Do not bring these items to Metro Convenience Centers for disposal. For additional information, call customer service at 615862-8750.

TRASH PICKUP Metro Public Works will run trash and recycling pickup routes in areas where streets are clear of flooding. Residents whose carts washed away should bag trash and place it at the curb or alley for pickup.

Brandon Porter, pastor of The People’s Church in Spring Hill, gives instructions to volunteers at The People’s Church in Franklin before they go out for flood cleanup in Franklin. JEANNE REASONOVER / THE TENNESSEAN Recycling should be bagged, tied and labeled “recycling.” To request a replacement cart, contact Public Works at 615-880-1000.

FLOOD HELP ■ United Way’s 211 service can connect callers with roughly 7,000 programs that offer assistance with food, clothing and shelter. Call 2-1-1. ■ For a list of mental health resources or crisis services in your area, visit www.tn.gov/mental or call the state mental health department’s Office of Consumer Affairs at 615-5326700 or 1-800-560-5767. ■ All YMCAs outside of Davidson County are making their shower facilities available to the community. Visitors need to bring their own towels. For information go to www.ymcamid tn.org/location map. ■ For questions about flooding or non-emergency assistance, call the Metro hot line at 615-862-8574.

■ The American Red Cross is operating 18 shelters. Call the Red Cross at 615-250-4250 to find the closest shelter or go to www. nashvilleredcross.com. ■ Call 911 in an emergency.

HOW TO HELP ■ Hands On Nashville is doing widespread organizing of volunteers to help with a variety of flood recovery and relief efforts. Register at www.hon.org. ■ Middle Tennessee Kroger locations are collecting donations of money and non-perishable items for the American Red Cross and Second Harvest Food Bank. ■ Dropoff donations of bottled water, new clothes and cleaning supplies at Christ Church, 15354 Old Hickory Blvd. Volunteers are needed to distribute these items. Call 615-8346171 for information. ■ Financial donations can be made to the Com-

munity Foundation at www.cfmt.org. ■ To support The Salvation Army, make a credit card donation by calling 1-800-725-2769 or online at www.salarmy-nashville. com. ■ The Lebanon/Wilson County Chamber of Commerce is coordinating volunteer cleanup efforts. To get or offer help, call 615-444-5503.

INSURANCE Here are telephone numbers to file claims with some of the largest home insurers in Tennessee: ■ State Farm Fire and Casualty Co., 1-800-7325246 ■ Farm Bureau Insurance, 1-800-836-6327 ■ Allstate Insurance Co., 1-800-767-7619 ■ Nationwide Insurance Co., 1-800-421-3535 ■ Traveler’s Insurance Co., 1-800-252-4633 ■ Farmers Insurance Group 1-800-435-7764

■ USAA (United Services Auto Association), 1800-531-8111 ■ Foremost Insurance Co., 1-800-527-3907 Here are tips from the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance: ■ Read your policy. ■ Contact your insurance carrier or your agent as soon as possible. ■ Make a thorough inventory of all missing or damaged items. ■ Take pictures inside and out before repairs are made. ■ Secure and protect your property against further damage without making permanent repairs, so an adjustor can see the full extent of damage. ■ Keep receipts for expenses required to protect your property from further damage. ■ Follow the claims-filing procedure in your policy. ■ Settlement offers can be negotiated. You don’t have to take the first offer. ■ If you have issues with

■ Return home only when authorities indicate it is safe. ■ Stay out of any building surrounded by floodwaters. ■ Before re-entering your home, check for loose power lines, gas leaks and structural damage. ■ If you smell gas, do not enter. Call your local gas company immediately from a neighbor’s home. ■ Use caution when entering, as the foundation or floorboards could be damaged. ■ Service damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits and leaching systems as soon as possible. ■ Clean and disinfect everything that got wet. Mud left from floodwater can contain sewage and chemicals. ■ If possible turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. Do not turn on the lights until you are sure they’re safe to use. Unplug appliances and let them dry. ■ If pipes are damaged, turn off the main water valve. Pump out wells and have the water tested by authorities before drinking. Do not flush toilets until you know that sewage lines are intact. ■ If your basement has been flooded, pump it out gradually (about one-third of the water per day) to avoid damage. The walls could collapse and the floor could buckle if the basement is pumped out while the surrounding ground is still waterlogged. — COMPILED BY TENNESSEAN STAFF

Volunteers seek property for new Tent City >> TENT CITY FROM 1B

Plans had been in the works to close the camp by the fall, said Clifton Harris of the Metro Homelessness Commission. The long-term plan is to get Tent City residents into a Housing First program, where they have a permanent place to live and case

management services. “That’s the permanent solution,” Harris said, “but we also need a temporary solution.” Harris said that he and volunteers such as Doug Sanders from Otter Creek Church of Christ are looking for one or two acres for the new Tent City. The site has to be along a bus line,

and can’t be close to a school or day care. Having a water meter on the site would help as well, Sanders said. “We don’t need much beyond water,” Sanders said. “We can bring in portable toilets and Dumpsters.” Otter Creek Church and other local congregations

are trying to collect tents, sleeping bags and other supplies for Tent City residents. “We’re trying to give them a place to start over,’’ he said. Patricia Coronado, a 23-year-old who lived at the homeless camp, said she will not go to the new location. “I won’t go back to liv-

ing in a tent,” she said, but she doesn’t know what she’s going to do. Watson said that former Tent City residents are nervous and worried about the future. For now, he and other members of the residents council are trying to keep in touch by cell phone with Tent City residents who are scattered at various

shelters. But he believes things will work out, pointing to the biblical story of the flood. “God sent that flood to cleanse things and to make way for something better,” he said. “I’m hoping for something better.” Contact Bob Smietana at 615-59-8228 or bsmietana@tennessean.com.

State seeks execution date in 1986 double murder By Nicole Young THE TENNESSEAN

The state has asked the Tennessee Supreme Court to set an execution date for a man convicted in the 1986 kidnapping and murder of an East Tennessee mother and daughter. A Union County jury found Stephen Michael West guilty in 1987 of first-degree murder in the stabbing deaths of Wanda Romines, 51, and her

daughter, Sheila Romines, 15. He was also found guilty of two counts of aggravated kidnapping and one count each of aggravated rape and larceny. During the trial, a forensic pathologist testified that Sheila had been raped before being stabbed 17 times in the abdomen. Fourteen of those wounds were “torture-type cuts,” he said. Wanda Romines also suffered numerous stab wounds.

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West’s defense team argued that he was present during the murders, but that a 17-year-old co-worker — a classmate of Sheila’s — committed the crimes. West was convicted and sentenced to death. In March, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review West’s conviction. The state said in its petition filed Friday that West has completed the standard threetier appeals process, making

the setting of an execution date appropriate. The inmate escaped the electric chair in 2001. He had refused to cooperate with his attorneys in filing federal appeals and was scheduled to die on March 1. Hours before his scheduled 1 a.m. execution, West changed his mind and signed papers asking a federal judge to stay his execution so he could pursue federal appeals. The stay came just two

hours after prison officials ran what they called a successful test of a new electric chair, not 50 feet from West’s “death watch” cell. The General Assembly voted in 2000 to make lethal injection the standard method of execution in Tennessee unless an inmate requests the electric chair. West has told prison officials that he wants to be electrocuted. Contact Nicole Young at 615-259-8091 or nyoung@tennessean.com.

Stephen Michael West was convicted of two 1986 murders.

Cataracts? Newcomer wins Williamson race lead vote-getter in the race didates to win District 3. You have By Mitchell Kline and won a third term in They’ll go on to face John office. Barnwell picked up Wallace, an independent choices. FRANKLIN — In what 360 votes, while Hawkins candidate, in the county THE TENNESSEAN

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many political observers called a shocking result, Williamson County Commission Chairman Houston Naron Jr. lost the Republican primary and his bid for a seventh term as a commissioner. Naron was the only incumbent not re-elected. The Republican primary was the deciding election in most races because there is no Democratic opposition. Challenger Travis Hawkins, an attorney, defeated Naron by just six votes to pick up one of two seats in District 10. Incumbent Bob Barnwell was the

got 322 and Naron got 316. Even Hawkins was surprised by his win. “I was prepared to lose,” Hawkins said. “This is almost like icing on the cake ’cause I’ve made so many friends along the campaign.” Naron did not return a call seeking comment. The Republican primary was the deciding election in races for 16 out of 24 seats on the county commission, the trustee and circuit court clerk. Incumbent Judy Hayes and newcomer Judy Lynch Herbert beat two other can-

general election Aug. 5. Political newcomer Kathy Danner and incumbent Cheryl Wilson won in the 4th District. They’ll face Walter Gordon, an independent, in August. Debbie McMillan Barrett picked up 77 percent of the votes to beat challenger Mike Bell and win a fourth term as the circuit court clerk. She has no challenger in August. W.J. Joey Davis, who has been the trustee for 16 years, beat challenger Gary Cordell by 2,787 votes. Contact Mitchell Kline at 615-7715417 or mkline@tennessean.com.


FLOOD OF 2010 FIFTH DAY OF COVERAGE

THURSDAY, MAY 6, 2010 Water eases, repair work overwhelms


T H U R S D AY, M AY 6, 2 0 1 0 • NA S H V I L L E

FLOOD OF 2010

Back at home, work is daunting

Returning residents find months of repairs By Clay Carey, Brian Haas and Nicole Young

THE TENNESSEAN

Tralena and Joe Walker went inside their Pennington Bend home Wednesday to find their carpet mostly dry and their furniture in place, but they immediately realized they couldn’t stay inside the house. They smelled gas and turned it off, then sat on their front porch to wait for someone from the gas company to arrive. Like hundreds of other families, they need professional help that is in short supply. “We feel helpless. We don’t know what to do yet,” Tralena Walker said. “We don’t know where to start.” Residents in several parts of Nashville are just now returning to their flooded homes to see what the water destroyed, and they don’t know where to begin to fix their storm-tossed lives. With 5,000 electric customers in Middle Tennessee still in the dark, it could be days before some of them really know just how much work their homes need. Once they know, it may take a while to get it done. “There’s not enough restoration contractors out there to handle the amount of work caused by this devastation,” said Pete Dallessandro, owner and operator of the flood recovery company Flood

>> RETURN, 14A

Water crisis eases a bit, but danger persists By Jaime Sarrio THE TENNESSEAN

After days of warnings, Middle Tennessee residents seem to have finally gotten the message to conserve fresh water. Even so, officials in Nashville renewed their pleas Wednesday to use less water to offset the loss of a Donelson-area treatment plant as concerns persisted over the city’s supply of fresh water. This week’s flooding also has hampered the stocks of fresh water in other cities and rural areas. By Wednesday afternoon, Nashville’s water reserve filled up 48 percent of available space in reserve tanks, up from a low of 37 percent Tuesday. In Williamson County, power was restored to a crippled facility, bringing a renewed strength to that supply. But officials warned that conservation efforts

>> WATER, 11A

10 PAGES OF COVERAGE

■ Dean: Davidson damage to hit $1 billion ■ Suburban counties face new struggles ■ Tourism business works to rebound ■ Big stars stage music benefits

TENNESSEAN.COM CHAT: United Way President Eric Dewey discusses volunteer efforts. Live at noon. PHOTOS: Residents share their images of the crisis, plus a roundup of top images from the week. NEWS ALERTS: Sign up for breaking news alerts delivered by e-mail or cell phone. UPDATES: Continuously updated coverage throughout the cleanup. Volunteer Marjorie Weaver brings sandwiches and cold drinks to residents and volunteer workers as they clean homes on West Hamilton Road in North Nashville. LARRY MCCORMACK / THE TENNESSEAN

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FLOOD OF 2010

THE TENNESSEAN

THURSDAY, MAY 6, 2010 • 11A

MetroCenter businesses suffer in shutdown By Chas Sisk

THE TENNESSEAN

MetroCenter appears to have escaped major flood damage, but a lengthy shutdown of the industrial neighborhood north of downtown is beginning to take a toll on businesses and their employees. Emergency officials said

the levee protecting MetroCenter has held, and they allowed businesses limited access to the area for four hours on Wednesday. But they said the high river still poses too great a risk to reopen MetroCenter to the approximately 10,000 people who work there every day. Officials will reassess the

Volunteer Danny Nicoletto loads water into vehicles during a water giveaway Wednesday at Bailey Middle School in Nashville. MANDY LUNN / THE TENNESSEAN

Water woes ease, but ‘we’ve got a long way to go’ >> WATER FROM 1A must continue until the flood-damaged facilities are repaired. “I don’t want to give a rosy outlook so much that people start to go out and wash their cars,” said John Brown, general manager for the Harpeth Valley Utilities District, which supplies water to Williamson County. “We’ve got a long way to go on this, and so does Middle Tennessee.” Metro’s Donelson-area treatment plan was swallowed by floodwaters Sunday, and the rising Cumberland River threatened to overtake a downtown plant Monday, which would have forced the city to rely on bottled water. Nashville is producing 81 million gallons of fresh water a day from one plant and buying 4 million from the West Wilson Utility district. But residents typically use about 100 million gallons a day, which made conservation essential. Residents appeared to be complying with the conservation requests, and by Wednesday many people were calling Metro Water Services to tell on neighbors who were abusing the restrictions. “We want people to tattle,” said Metro Water spokeswoman Sonia Harvat. “We’re trying to stress that it is for the benefit for all of us.” The utility even commissioned a small group of employees to call reported abusers and ask them not to waste water. They also shut off water to accounts that use water only for irrigation. To report water waste, call 862-4600. If the city’s reserve dwindles, residents in the outer portions of the county will lose water pressure to their homes. Residents will need to continue to conserve water until treatment facilities are running properly. In Nashville the damage to the Donelson-area plant wasn’t as severe as originally thought, but officials won’t say how long it will be until it is running again. They spent Wednesday pumping water out of the facility and moving equipment out to be checked and repaired. Williamson County’s main supplier, the Harpeth Valley Utilities District, also made progress toward improving water service. Around noon Wednesday, power was restored and the facility, which serves 15,000 customers, was able to stop using generators. Harpeth Valley normally produces 52 million gallons of water a day, and customers typically use

30 million gallons. Right now, the facility could produce about 32 million gallons, said John Brown, the district’s general manager. Another potential challenge facing water providers in the coming days: sewage treatment. Five Middle Tennessee sewage treatment plans are not working, 23 are damaged and 35 are slightly damaged, according to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. Plants were not operating in Davidson, Hickman, Montgomery and two in Cheatham. That means untreated sewage in those areas is going back into rivers and streams. “Our primary concern is public health, said department spokeswoman Tisha Calabrese-Benton. “Untreated sewage is not something we want people to come in contact with.”

levee, said Scott Potter, director of Metro Water Services, but they have given no timetable for the area to reopen. The shutdown has cost one business, Aegis Sciences Corp., about $1 million in lost revenue, said David Black, the company’s president and chief executive. The firm’s office on

Great Circle Road has been closed all week, and the company that does drug screening and other medical tests has amassed about 1,000 samples a day. “I’ve been pestering everybody I can” to reopen MetroCenter, Black said. “We have power, and it appears that the levees have held, but I have 200 employ-

ees that still can’t get in.” Randy Parham, a principal with Southeast Venture Real Estate Services, which owns and manages several buildings in MetroCenter, said the area’s extensive network of lakes and canals handled last weekend’s heavy rains effectively. Water still covered roadways Wednesday. But

water never reached the buildings, which were built on higher ground. “Companies are anxious to get back in,” Parham said. “As soon as the level of the river gets a little lower, the good news is everybody should be able to get in and get back to work.” Reach Chas Sisk at 615-259-8283 or csisk@tennessean.com.

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‘I’m just so grateful’ Following the restrictions has not been easy, especially for a region now largely caked in mud and other flood debris. Lolita Marshall and her neighbor Coshla Thompson stopped at one of five bottled water distribution centers to boost their water supply. Both women live in the Parkwood neighborhood just off Dickerson Pike and said they’ve been experiencing low water pressure since Monday. They’re using the water they can get from faucets so the toilet will flush. “It’s coming out in a slow drip, but we’re just using baby wipes and wearing light clothes around the house,” said Marshall, who had no damage from the flood. “I’m just so grateful. I am not complaining. Because some people got more water than they needed.” West Nashville resident Cymbre Patrick said she was trying to cut down on her water usage by not doing the dishes and letting the laundry pile up. “I haven’t had to work yet, so it’s not too bad,” she said. At the pre-school Tricia Hall’s children attend, the day normally starts with hand washing, but Tuesday the children were greeted with big bottles of sanitizer. At home she has been using hand wipes to manage messy mouths and refresh sticky fingers. The changes are manageable, she said. “There’s a bigger picture to worry about,” said the Green Hills mom. Contact Jaime Sarrio at 615-7265964 or jsarrio@tennessean.com.

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12A • THURSDAY, MAY 6, 2010

THE TENNESSEAN

FLOOD OF 2010

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HEALTH ISSUES

Homes in, out of flood area face mold danger By Christina E. Sanchez THE TENNESSEAN

In the flood aftermath, health officials are warning people to be wary of health issues, whether they live in a disaster area or not. There’s the obvious — people returning to flooded homes where contaminated water, spoiled food and mold await them. But then there are the silent, hidden dangers. Homes drenched in the weekend downpours could have mold in crawl spaces or on walls left vulnerable by leaky roofs. And the puddles on sidewalks where children love to splash can be tainted with bacteria. “It’s better to take extra care and precaution,” said Brian Todd, spokesman for the Metro Public Health Department. “There are a lot of health issues to be thinking about right now. You just don’t know what can happen.” The health department and other agencies are advising people about mold, spoiled food, tainted water and mental effects of trauma. Mold could be among the most far-reaching problems in homes in and out of flood areas. Signs can include discolored walls and ceilings and musty, earthy or foul odors. People should throw out items that were saturated longer than 48 hours, and open windows for at least 30 minutes before getting to work in a home. For people who have allergies and asthma, getting the mold out will be essential. “If you have asthma or are prone to allergies, being in a place that has high levels of moisture is likely to make that worse,” said Dr. Karl Kuhn, a pulmonologist at Southern Hills Medical Center.

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Tackling mold right away is important to keep it from growing. Jillian Conder wasted no time. The minute the floodwater receded from her condo on a quiet Bellevue cul-de-sac, she and her boyfriend, Bryce Roethler, went to work, ripping out the soggy drywall, pulling out the waterlogged furnishings and scrubbing down everything with bleach. Unless all of her neighbors take the same measures, Conder’s efforts could be for nothing — mold will quickly sprout and spread.

HOW TO CLEAN UP MOLD Mold can trigger allergic reactions and other health risks from long-term exposure. If you can see or smell mold, take the following steps to clean up the area: Use commercial cleaner, non-ammonia soap or detergent and hot water to tackle mold with a stiff brush. An excessive amount of cleaner may be needed. Rinse the area with clean water.

Tetanus shots offered As people clean out, they need to be cautious about coming into contact with contaminated water, and that’s why the health agency is offering free tetanus shots at its clinics and five community centers — East, Hermitage, Hadley, Coleman and Bellevue. About 160 people got tetanus immunizations Wednesday, and the state was bringing in more shots today. The tetanus clinics will be open noon to 4 p.m. today and Friday. Tetanus can enter the body through cuts or breaks in the skin and affect the body’s nervous system. Adults need a tetanus shot every 10 years. “The floodwater is very dirty, and people should stay out of floodwaters,” said Tisha Calabrese-Benton, spokeswoman for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. “As floodwaters begin to recede, we will make sure waste is managed properly.” TDEC will pick up hazardous waste and dead wildlife to prevent further contamination. Non-haz-

Apply 1/4 cup bleach per gallon of water. Soak the surface with a hand sprayer. If mold begins to grow back, try a stronger concentration of the solution. Avoid runoff. Allow the solution to dry six to eight hours. SOURCE: FEMA

THE TENNESSEAN

ardous material, such as wood, will be picked up last. Also, TDEC is monitoring oil tanks along the Cumberland River, and the oil companies have sent emergency response teams. No spills have been reported. Health officials also were worried about the mental effects people can face after disaster, including sadness, guilt, anger and anxiety. “It is important for everyone to know they are not alone in times like this. And needed resources are available across the state,” said Virginia Trotter Betts, Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities commissioner. Contact Christina E. Sanchez at 615-726-5961 or cesanchez@tennessean.com.

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FLOOD OF 2010

THE TENNESSEAN

THURSDAY, MAY 6, 2010 • 13A

TOLL ON TOURISM

As floodwaters recede in downtown Nashville, tourism officials are working to keep vital convention business from fleeing to other cities. MANDY LUNN / THE TENNESSEAN

Tourism officials fight to keep conventions Opryland events move downtown By Bonna Johnson THE TENNESSEAN

As historic floodwaters recede and Nashville residents sift through the sludge, the city’s tourism industry is attempting to do some salvaging of its own. With the now-flooded Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center out of commission for several months — and scores of groups no longer able to meet or spend money there — at least two conventions say they will still come to Music City. The move is a sign that a push by city officials and local tourism marketers to get the message out that Music City has other hotel space available and remains safe for visitors has started to pay dividends. A group of 1,700 conventioneers with the Humane Society of the United States was supposed to lodge and meet at the spacious Gaylord resort May 12-15, but now it will move to the Nashville Convention Center downtown and guests will be booked into several downtown hotels. “We don’t want to bail on the city of Nashville,” said John Snyder, vice president of the companion animal section of the Humane Society. Another group, CS Week, which is for utility providers, hopes to relocate its end-of-May conference to the downtown convention center, too. The developments are welcome news for an endangered hospitality industry, which relies heavily on the gigantic Gaylord resort to handle as much as one-fourth of the city’s convention business. Gaylord accounts for 12 percent of the city’s hotel rooms. Some 15 to 20 groups that were scheduled to meet at

the Opryland resort this summer are being actively wooed to remain in Nashville, said Butch Spyridon, president and CEO of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Some people want to stay because the market is good; others want to help the city,” he said. The CVB hopes to lure back visitors who may have been scared off by TV footage and news reports of last weekend’s floods and their aftermath. On Wednesday, the tourism agency launched a media and marketing campaign to let the nation know that Nashville is still open. “We want people to know that while we took a hit, attractions are still open, hotels are available and the biggest help they can give is to come visit,” Spyridon said. “We’ll keep the music playing.” The city’s convention officials hope to keep three other big upcoming conferences in town, including 5,000 conventioneers with the National Baptist Convention of America Inc., coming in late June; 7,000 with Moose International in early July; and 10,000 with the Future Business Leaders of America, July 6-10. “Our people have made all kinds of plans to come this way, so it’s very important to continue the route we’re on,” said the Rev. George Brooks, a Nashville organizer and a vice president with the Baptist group. Johnny Anderson, chief of staff of the Baptist group, said meeting planners are waiting to hear from the city’s convention office about the kinds of incentives and discounts it could make available to keep the group here.

Tax revenue is at stake Without Opryland Resort’s nearly 2,900 hotel rooms and 600,000 square feet of meeting and exhibition space, the city could

J.M. Tillman with Labor Ready assists in the cleanup of the Waterfront Deli on First Avenue in downtown Nashville. MANDY LUNN / THE TENNESSEAN lose up to a fifth of its hotel taxes for as long as the iconic hotel stays closed. Tourism and leisure spending could slip 10 percent to 20 percent, depending on how successful convention planners are at shifting groups to other local venues, Spyridon said. Gaylord officials say it could be “several months” before the hotel known for its garden-filled atriums and indoor river can welcome guests again. The company will hold its annual stockholders meeting today and brief stock analysts on the latest conditions at its flagship resort here on Friday morning. Organizers of next week’s animal welfare convention learned Monday about Gaylord’s closure, when the company offered to transfer its Animal Care Expo to another Gaylord-owned hotel in Texas, Florida or near Washington, D.C. But most attendees had already bought plane tickets to Nashville. “They’ve really worked hard and quickly to pull this together,” Snyder said of Nashville’s convention bureau. In a short amount of

time, the bureau’s staff had located 2,700 room nights at eight to 10 hotels. “We won’t be as centralized, but that’s OK,” said Snyder, the group’s vice president. “We’ll spring for buses or whatever it takes.” The Humane Society already has its 2013 expo booked at Gaylord Opryland Resort. “That’s a go, and we have no second thoughts about it,” Snyder added. Spyridon has met with hotel managers downtown and along the West End corridor about helping fill the gap without the Opryland hotel, and they’ve agreed to accommodate groups by honoring contracted rates and squeezing guests in.

Some groups cancel Not every group is willing to switch. A small meeting of 45 organized by the Amica Mutual Insurance Co. has decided to just cancel its event, which was supposed to be May 17-19 at the Opryland hotel, spokesman Vince Burks said. Healthcare Financial Management Association,

which had scheduled a conference there from June 20 to 23, is looking for alternate locations. Another Tennessee group decided to postpone its convention from this weekend until June. “We’re being cautious,” said A.L. Hayes, spokesman for the Tennessee Education Association. “We want to make sure people are comfortable coming into town. The water is still pretty high in some places.” The 1,200 educators will meet June 4-5, he said.

Promos to be aired As part of its marketing push, the CVB will add the note “We’re open” to existing ads and hopes to enlist the help of a Music Row personality to cut public service announcements that will broadcast on GAC, the Travel Channel and HGTV. The biggest downtown events this summer, though, are going ahead as planned. The CMA Music Festival scheduled June 10-13 has “every intention of holding the event as planned,” Steve Moore, chairman of the

ATTRACTIONS SET TO REOPEN ■ Nearly all of Nashville’s signature attractions say they will reopen by the weekend at the latest. ■ The Hermitage, a museum at the home of President Andrew Jackson, will reopen Friday. ■ The Country Music Hall of Fame intends to reopen Saturday. ■ The General Jackson Showboat operated by Gaylord plans to be cruising the Cumberland River as early as this weekend. ■ The Hilton Nashville Downtown is closed because of a power outage, but only its underground garage was flooded. ■ Most bars and restaurants are in good shape, although Second Avenue’s Hard Rock Cafe will be closed until at least Friday. The Wildhorse Saloon may not open until the middle of the month. — BONNA JOHNSON

CMA board of directors, said in a statement. The country music extravaganza stages concerts at Riverfront Park and LP Field, which have both been under water. Both venues should be ready by then, Spyridon said. “We cannot think of a better way to help our local economy at this time of great need than to continue the 39-year tradition,” Moore said. Summer NAMM, a 12,000-strong conference of the National Association of Music Merchants, will meet June 18-20 at the Nashville Convention Center and plans no changes. “At this time, it is full speed ahead,” NAMM spokesman Scott Robertson said. “We’re looking at it day by day, but our members consider Nashville home to this show,” Robertson said of the musical instrument trade show. “A little floodwater is not going to change that.” Contact Bonna Johnson at 615-7265990 or bjohnson@tennessean.com.

Opry Mills still closed; piranha escape reports false By Bonna Johnson THE TENNESSEAN

The Opry Mills shopping center, known for its Bass Pro Shops and Rainforest Café, remains closed because of flooding. Reports that dangerous piranha escaped from the Aquarium Restaurant at the

mall are not true, restaurant officials said. Because of limited access because of floodwater, neither the mall nor its largest tenants have had time to assess damage or project a reopening date. “We’re under two feet of water,” said Larry Whiteley, spokesman for Bass Pro

Shops. The outdoor shop’s aquariums remain intact and the fish are being cared for, he said. Most of the fish at the Aquarium Restaurant and adjacent Stingray Reef survived the floods and are contained, according to parent company Landry’s Corp. “Aquarium biologists

have been onsite since Monday caring for the fish that survived,” a company statement said. The 1.16 million-squarefoot mall near the banks of the Cumberland River has been closed since last weekend’s historic floods, which also washed over the nearby Gaylord Opryland

Resort & Convention Center and Grand Ole Opry, which also are shuttered. Bed Bath & Beyond’s managers have not had permission to access the building. Employees have been deployed to other stores and will remain on the payroll, said spokeswoman Catherine Gentile.

The mall is celebrating its tenth year on the grounds that once housed the famed Opryland theme park. Tenth anniversary celebrations were scheduled to kick off last weekend but were disrupted by the floods. Contact Bonna Johnson at 615-7265990 or bjohnson@tennessean.com.


14A • THURSDAY, MAY 6, 2010

FLOOD OF 2010

THE TENNESSEAN

IN THE NEIGHBORHOODS CAPTURED MOMENTS

GOING HOME ■ Return home only when authorities indicate it is safe. ■ Stay out of any building if it is surrounded by floodwaters. ■ Before re-entering your home, walk around the outside to check for loose power lines, gas leaks and structural damage. If you have any doubts about safety, don’t go in. ■ If you smell gas, do not enter. Call your local gas company immediately from a neighbor’s home. ■ Use caution when entering, as the foundation could be damaged or floorboards could be loose. ■ Service damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits and leaching systems as soon as possible. Damaged sewage systems are serious health hazards. ■ Clean and disinfect everything that got wet. Mud left from floodwater can contain sewage and chemicals. ■ Check for sparks and broken or frayed wires. Check the electrical system unless you are wet or standing in water. If possible turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. Do not turn on the lights until you are sure they’re safe to use. Unplug appliances and let them dry. ■ If pipes are damaged, turn off the main water valve. Pump out wells and have the water tested by authorities before drinking. Do not flush toilets until you know that sewage lines are intact. ■ If your basement is flooded, pump it out gradually (about one-third of the water per day) to avoid damage. The walls may collapse and the floor may buckle if the basement is pumped out while the surrounding ground is still waterlogged.

SANDBAGGING Jennifer Oatsvall, 36, worked a sandbag line at the Metro Center levee on Monday. She heard about the need on Twitter and drove over when her employer closed early. “I was so thankful to be finally getting my hands dirty.” Dirty she got: a busted lip, sand in her bra, dust that turned her turquoise tank top brown. But she honored Nashville’s water restrictions that night and bypassed a shower. “I really want one, though. Baby wipes are so helpful right now.”

BITS OF LIFE Ann Butterworth of Nashville was re-energized by a morning run — “until noticing a pink soccer ball being carried along in the current of the Cumberland, surrounded by a car tire, a piece of wood fencing and other bits of someone’s life, world and home.” — Posted to Facebook at 8 a.m. on Tuesday

COMMUNITY

DEBRIS

“I am very PROUD to live in a city/state that comes together to help one another in a time of need. Keep it up. We are Nashville!” — Kay Holcomb of Nashville, posted to Facebook, Wednesday

Metro Public Works has issued guidelines for placing debris at curbside for collection: All items and materials must be separated into four piles and placed at the curb or street side. If the debris is not separated, it will not be collected. 1. White goods and metals (appliances, etc.). 2. Construction and demolition debris (lumber, windows, etc.). 3. Vegetation (brush, limbs and all other yard waste). 4. Household trash and garbage (including carpet). Items should not be placed in public alleys. Alleys need to remain clear for emergency crews and trash collection services. Do not bring these items to Metro Convenience Centers for disposal. For additional information, call customer service at 615862-8750.

STILL MISSING “who ever your god is pray for dan brown and his family.” — Mike Gantt, of Nashville, who posted this to Facebook on Wednesday about a friend who has been missing since Sunday

SUPPORT FROM AFAR “I survived it by being deployed. I hope everybody recovers quick.” — Thomas Burns, posted to Facebook Wednesday

Damage to Tucker Road in North Nashville is substantial. LARRY MCCORMACK / THE TENNESSEAN

Rebuilding will be a massive chore >> RETURN FROM 1A Helper. “It could take 14 days. It could take more. It’s hard to say.’’ So far, work hasn’t overwhelmed electrician Alan Hardy, but he expects that to change soon. “There are going to be a lot of hurting people,” Hardy said. “The contractors around here probably aren’t going to be able to handle it.” Eddie Davidson, a spokesman for Piedmont Natural Gas, said the company has been able to keep up with service calls, but demands for service are “slowly ramping up.” “Our focus is on customer safety,” Davidson said. Workers with the gas company have been going door to door in heavily flooded neighborhoods since Tuesday. Davidson said they have been able to reach about 1,500 flooded homes. Residents surveyed the troubles the water left behind, and urban search and rescue teams descended upon the city’s hardest-hit neighborhoods. In Bellevue, Neely’s Bend, Pennington Bend and the Bordeaux area, firefighters and police walked door to door all day, trying to reach residents and make sure they’re safe. Search dogs were used in Bellevue and Pennington Bend, but none of the search teams found anything unusual Wednesday, said District Fire Chief Donald Alford. In the Buena Vista neighborhood of Bordeaux, several vehicles dropped off firefighters, police officers and a group of police officers in training to knock on doors along South Hamilton Avenue. When no one answered,

retirees who wanted to downsize. Kara Stephens, president of the homeowners association, said she had talked to 50 of her neighbors Wednesday. Four of them had flood insurance.

search teams left bright yellow or green stickers, reminding them to check again. Search teams were instructed not to force their way into homes unless they saw something alarming. “The people, I think, are still in shock as they’re moving their stuff out,” Alford said. “You’re seeing it on their faces, just complete disbelief.” Overhead, police helicopters buzzed, part of increased patrols Metro Police put in place to help monitor neighborhoods and prevent potential looting.

First look at the damage

‘One thing at a time’ Along West Hamilton Avenue at Buena Vista, volunteers and residents, drenched with sweat and covered in mud, moved among the debris lining the street: couches, mattresses, dresser drawers, clothes, stoves, carpets and more. Police guarded the entrance, questioning everyone who tried to enter the area. Keith Hambrick busied himself by working at his cousin’s house at the corner of Buena Vista and West Hamilton. Everything Mykar Groves, his wife, Ralithea, and their five children owned sat in piles near the road, waiting to be hauled away by city workers. Inside, the bare floorboards were covered in mud and rotting vegetation. Ceiling fans were set on high speed, but the breeze was minimal. Hambrick sighed as he surveyed the damage. “We’re treating it like it’s an eight-hour job,” he said. “It’s overwhelming, but we just keep our heads up, smile and do one thing at a time.”

Mayor Karl Dean visits with residents as they try to clean their flood-damaged homes on West Hamilton Road in North Nashville. LARRY MCCORMACK / THE TENNESSEAN Just down the street, Stella Townsend couldn’t bring herself to go inside her home. “I don’t want to go in there,” she said. “I don’t want to see it.” Townsend, 60, and her daughter Stephanie, 27, had just gotten to their house to begin cleaning up when a group of volunteers from Whites Creek High School arrived to help. Townsend’s brother Richard Lewis volunteered to be her eyes in the house, sparing her the job of going in and assessing the damage. “It’s horrible,” he said. “The water reached almost to the ceiling. I don’t know if anything can be saved. Right now, it looks like we’re going to have to gut the whole thing and start over.”

No flood insurance Thomas Sinor and his wife finally got access to their home in the Rivertrace

Estates neighborhood Wednesday. He had not been there since Monday. “I took a boat,” he said. “It was the only way we could get in.” Sinor, his wife, Amy Phillips, and their 1½–yearold daughter Eme-Mikiah have been staying at Sinor’s parents’ house, sharing a full-sized bed. “When I got to the house and actually got in, it was very disturbing,” said Sinor, 34, a military veteran and financial adviser. Just how badly their home is damaged is still a mystery. The foundation behind the home is still under several feet of water. They have no flood insurance. “We were told we didn’t need it,” Sinor said. He spent Wednesday morning dragging out what couldn’t be salvaged. It sat in front of his home in two piles — one for furniture and mattresses, another for odds and ends from the house such as board games,

an artificial Christmas tree, a pink toy stroller. Family and friends helped him add to the piles. “To know we were going to come home and lose everything, it’s impossible to describe in words,” Amy Phillips said. There were some victories: some special photos on the fridge were untouched. Sinor’s military records were safe, as well. Some memorabilia from his daughter’s first birthday and photos from a family vacation to Sinor’s native Hawaii were damaged. So were his McGavock High School yearbooks. The kitchen cabinets, just refinished a few months ago, were wrecked. “Our plan was to try to make this place sellable in the next two years,” Sinor said. “I don’t know if you can imagine it, but this was a nice place at one point.” Residents said the 312house Rivertrace Estates is a mix of young families buying their first homes and

Vera Arnold sat half inside a car Wednesday, trying to escape the sun. Behind her stood the UnaAntioch Pike house she has called home for the past 60 years, gutted by floodwaters. Remnants of her life lay on her front lawn. Some items were drying in the sun. Others were on the curb to be picked up as garbage. Friends and family members tore out carpet all morning, knocked down saturated walls and carted wheelbarrows of clothes and precious memories to the lawn. Among them: hundred-year-old sketches of ancestors and old praise and gospel records. “We’re trying to get everything out because it’s wet inside,” Arnold said. “They were talking about the mold. It will make you sick.” With the help of her son and a cane, she slowly ascended her porch and took a look around her home for the first time since she fled. Many of her walls had been torn down. It smelled of must. Mud caked the floor. It could be worse, she figured. “There’s a whole lot of people with a lot less who are going through a lot more,” she said. Contact Clay Carey at 615-726-5933 or mcarey@tennessean.com. Contact Brian Haas at 615-726-8968 or bhaas@tennessean.com. Contact Nicole Young at 615-2598091 or nyoung@tennessean.com.


FLOOD OF 2010

THE TENNESSEAN

THURSDAY, MAY 6, 2010 • 15A

ASSESSING THE DAMAGE

Metro damage to top $1 billion By Michael Cass and Nate Rau THE TENNESSEAN

About 100 Metro police officers and firefighters went door to door Wednesday trying to account for everyone affected by the historic floods that battered Nashville, while inspectors continued to assess damage that Mayor Karl Dean said would soar well above $1 billion for the city alone. Dean’s estimate didn’t take into account damage from places elsewhere in the region, which could add hundreds of millions, if not billions, to the total. Nor did it account for lost revenue from businesses soaked by the floodwaters or forfeited wages for workers who haven’t been able to return to their jobs. “The magnitude of the damages to those businesses, I don’t know,” the mayor said. “I think it’s safe to say the damage that we’re looking at will easily exceed $1 billion.” By the end of the fifth day of the crisis, city officials had identified more than 450 infrastructure sites across Nashville that needed repairs. Many of the sites are “quick fixes” that will merely require filling in potholes or clearing stormwater drainage ditches, Metro Public Works Director Billy Lynch said. But other repairs will be more extensive. Northwest Davidson County’s Tucker Road, for example, had completely collapsed from flood damage. “Some of our bridges have been compromised,” at-large Councilman Jerry Maynard said. “Entire roads and houses are still under water.” Dean said 45 crews were conducting damage assessments across the county and had covered 70 percent of it in three days. A twoperson team drove and walked through Bellevue’s River Plantation development at midday Wednesday, checking the height of water lines on buildings near the Harpeth River. “Wow!” Metro Codes building inspector Jim Guschke said as he approached an exterior brick wall of one unit. “That’s a good 6, 6 1/2 feet,” his partner, fellow building inspector Johnny Hargis, said after walking up to the water line and raising his hand over his head to touch it.

2 people still missing Metro police said two men were still missing. Daniel Alexander Brown, 18, of Neese Drive was last seen while inner-tubing in Mill Creek on Sunday evening. Danny Tomlinson, 39, of Pegram was last seen in his car in Bellevue, where the vehicle ran into high water early Sunday. It was found in a flooded area of Newsom Station Road on Tuesday. Police Chief Ronal Serpas said there had been 26 reports of looting, leading to two arrests. Bredesen warned citizens of floodrelief scams and urged them to be sure private contractors were state-licensed. Dean toured the devastated West Hamilton neighborhood in North Nashville on Wednesday, encountering Whites Creek High School football players and Principal Karl Lang as they helped clean up the area. Dean said he found “an incredible amount of spirit and heart out there, and also a lot of volunteers.”

Disaster area grows Also Wednesday, President Barack Obama declared two more counties disaster areas, bringing the total to six: Davidson, Williamson, Cheatham, Hickman, Montgomery and Dyer. At an afternoon press conference in Clarksville, Gov. Phil Bredesen said he expected more counties would soon become eligible for federal aid. In Nashville five Metro disaster assistance centers were operating across the city by Wednesday afternoon. In community cen-

ters at Bellevue, Coleman, East, Hadley and Hermitage parks, the centers are offering general information on utilities, social service assistance and a place to file property damage claims with FEMA. Each center is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Lynch said debris pickup would begin today in Antioch, Bellevue and Bordeaux. Metro also was turning to private contractors for clean-up help. Lynch said they could begin debris removal and other recovery work next week. Some other city services struggled to return to full capacity. Metro schools are expected to remain closed for the rest of the week, while MTA buses will resume on a limited schedule today, making it easier for some people to get to work. All bus fares will be free as 21 routes run on a limited schedule. Most government offices and courts will be open today, Dean said. Davidson County Juvenile Court, the Juvenile Court clerk’s office, the Nashville Farmers Market, Municipal Auditorium, the county clerk and Metro Social Services offices at MetroCenter remain closed. Dean also said he would ask the Metro Council to approve a special ordinance waiving fees for building, mechanical, plumbing and electrical permits related to flood damage. And Piedmont Natural Gas said it would not disconnect any customers for nonpayment of gas bills or penalize anyone for late payments for the next two months. Metro Water Services also plans to waive late fees for bills with due dates beginning May 3. Nashville Electric Service will waive four types of fees for flood victims only.

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Damage estimates start The scene at River Plantation on Wednesday, as Hargis and Guschke drove through the area trying to get a handle on the amount of structural damage in the neighborhood, is one that will play out across the city and region for days to come. The assessors saw piles of soggy, useless items stacked on lawns and driveways. There were couches, carpets, and loose insulation and drywall; mattresses, shelves, upholstered chairs and a glass-top table; a piano and a geography textbook. “You really hate seeing the anguish these people are going through, knowing they’ve got to start fighting with the insurance company,” Hargis said. The damage assessors generally don’t walk up to the houses, but narrow streets packed with cars eventually forced them out of their vehicle and onto their feet. They are expected to give each building a rating of one to four, ranging from minimal to severe damage based on the height of the water line. Some houses at River Plantation showed no damage, such as a row along each side of Sawyer Brown Drive near Old Harding Pike. But as Sawyer Brown stretched toward Highway 70, they saw each shoulder of the road filled with vehicles. Scores of relatives and friends, including a church group and Metro Councilman Charlie Tygard, had come to help clean up. A few things came through just fine. Julie Kinser Huffman pulled a glass vase out of the unit belonging to her mother, Carol Ann Thomason. It was intact, prompting Huffman to joke that Murphy’s Law — the one about anything that can go wrong — dictated it would break in her car. Thomason, who has lived at River Plantation for three years, said she had never expected a flood. But she said this one wouldn’t drive her away. “I’m coming back,” she said. “The devil’s going to get me before the river.” Contact Michael Cass at 615-2598838 or mcass@tennessean.com. Contact Nate Rau at 615-259-8094 or mcass@tennessean.com.

Many Nashville roads reopen By Nicole Young

THE TENNESSEAN

Some of Davidson County’s main roadways reopened Wednesday. Nashville emergency workers reported that Highways 100 and 70 reopened. Highway 100 had been closed at Ensworth High School and Hicks Road because of flooding. A rock slide near Pegram closed part of Highway 70 at Charlotte Pike. Vietnam Veterans Boulevard, the main artery Sumner County commuters use to get to Interstate 65 to Nashville, was reopened Wednesday morning, dispatchers with the Hendersonville Police Department said. Briley Parkway near Opryland could be closed “maybe another day or two,” officials said, as could Briley Parkway near Centennial Boulevard. Road closures as of Wednesday included:

DOWNTOWN NASHVILLE ■ First Avenue South through Fourth Avenue South from about Korean War Veterans Boulevard to Union Street ■ Rosa L. Parks Boulevard between James Robertson Parkway and Jefferson Street ■ Fourth Avenue North between Third Avenue and Jackson Street ■ Second Avenue North between Main Street and Madison Street ■ North First Street between Dickerson Pike and Woodland Street NORTH ■ Ed Temple Boulevard from West Heiman Street to Buchanan Street ■ All of Crocker Springs Road

SOUTH ■ Blue Hole Road from Antioch Pike to Pettus Road ■ Pettus Road from Old Hickory Boulevard to Sundown Drive ■ Culbertson Road from Nolensville Pike to Old Hickory Boulevard ■ Murfreesboro Pike from Plus Park Boulevard to Vultee Boulevard ■ All of Richards Road ■ All of Reeves Road ■ Fourth Avenue South / Nolensville Pike at the Browns Creek bridge

EAST ■ Briley Parkway between just north of Lebanon Pike and McGavock Pike ■ Old Hickory Boulevard between Andrew Jackson Parkway and Juarez Drive ■ Andrew Jackson Parkway between Old Hickory Boulevard and Old Lebanon Dirt Road ■ Old Lebanon Dirt Road from Dodson Chapel Road to Andrew Jackson Parkway WEST ■ Old Harding Pike between Sawyer Brown Road and Poplar Creek Road ² All of Morton Mill Road ² Hicks Road between Highway 70 and Sawyer Brown Road ² All of Doral Country Drive ² McCrory Lane between I-40 and Highway 70 Temporary road closure because of NES work: ² Twelfth Avenue North between Charlotte Avenue and the Church Street Viaduct

Tips ease process of applying for aid By Naomi Snyder

THE TENNESSEAN

Seeking aid could be a complicated process for someone already overwhelmed by a flooded home or business. Here are some tips: Call your insurance agent first. Tell them you’re filing a claim but don’t assume damage isn’t covered because you didn’t have flood insurance. Have an adjuster come out and look at it and review your policy. Take pictures of all the damage. If you are forced to live in a hotel or even with a relative, the Federal Emergency Management Agency may help you cover some of the costs. Register at DisasterAssistance.gov or 800-621-FEMA (3362). You may be eligible for a Small Business Administration low-interest loan, even if you don’t own a business. FEMA will send you an application in the mail. If you don’t apply for an SBA loan, you may not be eligible later for a FEMA grant. If the SBA rejects you for a loan, you can apply for a FEMA grant. The assistance will only help bring your home to a minimally habitable standard, with assistance capped at $29,900, including housing assistance you may have received. Keep all receipts of your costs. Sources: FEMA, U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, DNashville, and Bradley Arant Boult Cummings’ Nashville office managing partner Bob Wood.


16A • THURSDAY, MAY 6, 2010

FLOOD OF 2010

THE TENNESSEAN

ACROSS THE REGION

WILLIAMSON

Volunteers are ‘godsend’ for victim Historic Franklin neighborhood suffers damage By Harriet Vaughan

THE TENNESSEAN

FRANKLIN — Amanda North, 97, sat as 10 volunteers and family members cleaned out her flooded basement and helped to salvage her antiques and other belongings. The Hard Bargain resident and her husband, now deceased, had the home built in the historic downtown Franklin neighborhood in 1965. This is the first time she said they’ve ever experienced flooding like that. She said if it were not for volunteers, she would not have made it. “Thank you, Jesus. I appreciate the help I got,” North said. “It’s like a godsend,” daughter Dorothy Jackson said. North’s home was one of about 20 in Hard Bargain that were damaged by the raging flood that struck parts of Tennessee. Green and Glass streets took the brunt of the flood in the area that is the focus of a nonprofit redevelopment effort. North’s basement sat flooded for three days before her daughter was able to put out a call for help. Maggie Brown called Wednesday morning for volunteers to help her elderly mother. A team from Southern Land Company was there before the clock struck 11 a.m. They drained the more than two feet of water that had seeped into the basement. Fortunately,

Gravel was dumped to block the Sneed Road bridge over the Harpeth River. JEANNE REASONOVER / THE TENNESSEAN the volunteers were able to salvage items that North, a former teacher, and her sharecropper husband planned to donate to the McLemore House AfricanAmerican history museum. Joe McCallum of the Hard Bargain Mount Hope Redevelopment Group said they dispatched close to 60 volunteers to help in the community. “It feels great to help. It’s a blessing on both sides. Our hearts get full and when we help God is pleased. This is what we do. We help when help is needed,” McCallum said. Franklin Mayor John Schroer, in a statement issued yesterday, praised the response of volunteers and city staff members. “I’ve met some of the nicest people, those who love our city and are thankful for the city’s response and assistance,” Schroer said. “Many residents are more concerned about their neighbors than for their

losses.”

Bridge barricaded North of Franklin, the county highway department dumped gravel to block the Sneed Road bridge over the Harpeth River. “The asphalt is in people’s yards. Guardrails are all bent,” County Highway Superintendent Eddie Hood said. “It’s all going to have to be built from scratch. It’s going to take a while to complete all this.” The scenic road runs parallel to the WilliamsonDavidson county line, entering Davidson County near the Loveless Cafe. Residents in the area on the western side of the bridge will be able to exit Sneed Road via Highway 100, which opened on Tuesday. Those on the eastern side will be able to access Hillsboro Road.

At the Horseshoe Bend subdivision, homeowner Barb Paczko is reflected in a window that shows the floodwater line at her home in Franklin on Tuesday. She and her husband narrowly escaped as a rush of chest-high floodwater entered their home.

JEANNE REASONOVER/THE TENNESSEAN

MONTGOMERY COUNTY

HICKMAN COUNTY

Water shortage may take months to fix STAFF REPORTS

Much of Hickman County is without water. Flooding rains destroyed thousands of feet of water and sewer lines, officials said. “I cannot overemphasize the seriousness of this disaster,’’ said Hickman County Mayor Steve Gregory. Most residents in the city of Centerville have drinkable water, but all residents have been asked to con-

Road signs were all that could be seen Tuesday on Jarmon Hollow Road in the southern part of Montgomery County. ROBERT SMITH / GANNETT TENNESSEE

Clarksville reopens streets and bridges, cutting commutes By Jake Lowary and Ann Wallace

GANNETT TENNESSEE

Floodwaters receded enough Wednesday to allow Clarksville officials to open several major traffic arteries around town. Jennifer Johnson, who lives on Lem Davis Road near Montgomery Central High School, was separated from one of her children when the flooding encroached on the former Fairgrounds Park and Highway 48/13. “I couldn’t get to him, and they couldn’t get to us,’’ she said. Johnson, 23, was able to reunite with her family on Wednesday when McClure Bridge opened to all traffic. Johnson also was without water, forcing her to improvise. “The water was turned off for two whole days, and I was collecting rainwater to flush the toilets,” she said. The city Wednesday opened the College StreetRed River Bridge and many of the smaller streets around town that were inundated with water for three days. Opening that

bridge alleviated much of the congestion on Interstate 24 and Warfield Boulevard, which were the only routes into downtown from St. Bethlehem and North Clarksville, causing some to have commutes of an hour or more. “I went out Monday for a short distance and was stuck in traffic for over an hour,” said Shirley Chandler, who lives near the fairgrounds on Jostens Drive. Chandler and hundreds of other county residents are now trying to dry out basements and homes as the floodwaters begin to recede. Among the city streets opened Wednesday were Southern Parkway, Hawkins Road, River Run, Farris Drive, Needmore Road, Denny Road and Old Russellville Pike near Willow Bend. North Second Street remained closed, and city spokeswoman Christie Hill said drivers should continue to avoid that area until the Cumberland River recedes more. Riverside Drive also is still closed, as well as portions of Kraft Street and Dunbar Cave Road.

serve water and curtail non-essential use. Water service will not be fully restored anytime soon. “It’s not going to be days or weeks, it’s going to be months,’’ said Centerville Mayor Bob Bohn.

Bottled water available The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency and the National Guard have shipped in bot-

tled water to help residents. Bottled water can be picked up at Fairfield Church of Christ, Centerville Church of Christ, Centerville Maintenance Garage, Centerville Fire Halls No. 2 and 3, Bon Aqua United Methodist Church, Kedron United Methodist Church in Pinewood, Nunnelly United Methodist Church, Brushy Church of Christ, Shady Grove Store, Maple Valley Baptist Church in Bucksnort,

Coble Store and Pleasantville Volunteer Fire Hall. About 900 people in Hickman County were without power Wednesday morning, and several roads still are closed or partially blocked, including parts of highways 50, 100 and 438. Emergency shelters have been set up at the Fairfield Church of Christ, Centerville Church of Christ and Kedron United Methodist Church.

CHEATHAM COUNTY

Residents advised to keep boiling water By Tim Adkins

GANNETT TENNESSEE

Cheatham County officials are directing Ashland City residents to continue boiling their drinking water, according to Emergency Management Agency Director Edwin Hogan. The Ashland City water system is improving, but until additional tests are finished, residents are advised to continue taking precautions.

Health officials recommend that anyone exposed to the floodwaters get a tetanus shot if they have not had one in the past five years. About 200 shots are available at the Cheatham County Health Department off Frey Street in Ashland City, and more are on order. For more information, call 615-792-4318. Ashland City started enforcing a 7 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew on Monday. Residents are asked to stay off the streets during that time.

County leaders also said there is restricted access on the waterways from Paducah, Ky., to Cordell Hull Dam. The waterway is closed to recreational boaters, said Shannon Heflin, the chief investigator for the Cheatham County Sheriff’s Office. “If you don’t live on the water, there is no reason for you to be out there. This will be enforced,’’ he said. Schools are closed for the rest of the week, but

county government offices will be open. While many roads remain blocked in the county, some opened Wednesday, including Highway 70 and Highway 49. River Road continues to be blocked. Residents and business owners who sustained losses can begin applying for federal assistance immediately by registering online at www.fema.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).

RUTHERFORD COUNTY

Residents urged to report flood damage Actions could help county land disaster aid By Mark Bell

GANNETT TENNESSEE

MURFREESBORO — Rutherford County emergency officials have assessed about 155 flood-hit structures, putting the estimated value of loss at $13.5 million, with more assessments still to be done. Northwestern parts of the county, particularly La Vergne and Smyrna, were

hardest hit by the record rainfall. “In the next few days, county officials will be working with TEMA and FEMA to conduct damage assessments that could determine whether the area will be eligible for federal disaster assistance,” U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon said. “If your property was damaged by flooding, make sure the county is aware of it. This is one of the most important steps you can take right now.” The Heart of Tennessee Chapter of the American

Red Cross has a respite center at Highland Heights Church of Christ in Smyrna. The center offers a place to stay, food, drinks and snacks for those affected by the flooding. Hardwood flooring retailer Lumber Liquidators in La Vergne will hand out bottled drinking water to relief organizations and flood-affected families from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today or until they run out. Pallet-size loads are available for relief organizations, and needy families will be able to receive water on a one case per

family basis, the company said. Approximately 36,000 bottles of drinking water are available for distribution. In Murfreesboro the United Way of Rutherford and Cannon counties, FirstBank and the Salvation Army have announced that a trailer parked at the FirstBank building on Memorial Boulevard will be open through the weekend to collect bottled water, nonperishable foods, diapers, baby food and formula, cleaning supplies and other necessities.


THE TENNESSEAN

FLOOD OF 2010

THURSDAY, MAY 6, 2010 • 17A

HELPING OUT

Volunteer spirit shines in area recovery efforts

Facebook, Twitter urge: Text Red Cross By Jessica Bliss THE TENNESSEAN

As the water recedes, residents of Pennington Bend are returning to their homes to get a closer look at the flood damage. Adria Campbell, friend of homeowners Tommy Carter and Amy Phillips, empties water out of a box of pictures on Wednesday as thousands of volunteers help flood-ravaged areas recover. SAMUEL M. SIMPKINS / THE TENNESSEAN

Hands on Nashville gets help from more than 12,000 people By Jennifer Brooks THE TENNESSEAN

The Volunteer State is living up to its name. Thousands of people have stepped up to help with the rescue and cleanup efforts in the aftermath of this weekend’s cataclysmic floods. Ordinary people steered their boats into the flood to save people trapped in their homes, sandbagged for hours to save the city’s last remaining water treatment plant from the rising water and fanned out through devastated neighborhoods to offer food, drinking water and comfort. More than 12,000 people have signed up to help with Hands On Nashville, the agency coordinating volunteer disaster relief assistance in the area. That doesn’t even count the spontaneous volunteer efforts organized by churches, schools and individuals. “There’s been a great willingness to volunteer,” Brian Williams, executive director of Hands On Nashville, who estimated that 1,500 volunteers were deployed through his agency Wednesday, lending a hand with

Kourtney Horner, community outreach/events coordinator, pets a dog owned by a flood victim at Happy Tales in The Factory at Franklin on Wednesday. Happy Tales has taken in dogs displaced by the flood. JEANNE REASONOVER/THE TENNESSEAN debris removal or volunteering in one of the city’s Disaster Information Centers. The agency is hoping to tap into that pool of willing volunteers in the weeks and months ahead as the cleanup continues. Hands On Nashville’s site — www.hon.org — has become a clearinghouse to put volunteers together with those in need. In Nashville alone, the flood caused an estimated $1 billion in

damage to homes, businesses and metro infrastructure.

‘We couldn’t sit at home’ Beyond the official volunteer tally are all the people who struck out on their own to help in floodstricken neighborhoods. “We believe this is what ministry is,” said Pastor Albert Jones of The Church of the Living God. Jones and two other church

members went door-to-door in flooded North Nashville this week, distributing hundreds of lunches to residents. They plan to make more throughout the week until the need is met, Jones said. In Williamson County, Franklin Mayor John Schroer said a full slate of volunteers showed up to clean city parks and streets. Church and school groups fanned out into Cottonwood, Fieldstone Farms and Horseshoe Bend. Residents of the Leiper’s Fork community organized their own aid clearinghouse and command post in the basement of the Country Boy Restaurant. Volunteers provided food, supplies and traffic control. “I just felt like we couldn’t sit at home,” said Kim Wright, a Westhaven homeowner who worked to assist residents in the Cottonwood subdivision. The state agency Volunteer Tennessee has activated the Tennessee Emergency Donations Hotline to accept contributions and support state flood victims. To donate, call toll-free, 1-866-586-4483. The hotline will be staffed by volunteers from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. The agency also accepts donations online at www.tnema.org. Tennessean staff writers Harriet Vaughan and Jill Wiersma contributed to this report. Contact Jennifer Brooks at 615-259-8892 or jabrooks@tennessean.com.

Musical events to aid relief efforts In the days since the onset of the flood, Nashville’s tight-knit music community has come together in short order, organizing new benefit concerts and shifting the focus of previously announced shows toward raising money for relief efforts. Several wide-ranging musical events are scheduled for the rest of the week, and we’re expecting to hear about many more in the days and weeks to come. For more benefit events, visit Tennessean.com/ music. Today WSMV-TV Channel 4 will broadcast a telethon, Working 4 You: Flood Relief with Vince Gill & Friends, on Thursday from 7 to 10

p.m. Gill, Keith Urban, Alison Krauss, Naomi Judd, Darius Rucker, Phil Vassar, Lonestar and Bo Bice are scheduled to appear. All proceeds will benefit The Salvation Army, The Red Cross and The Second Harvest Food Bank. The “House Call” Musicians on Call Benefit at 3rd & Lindsley (816 Third Ave S.) will be collecting items for flood victims in need (“unused cell phones, clothes, nonperishable food, duffel bags, brooms, cleaning supplies, bleach, mops, etc.”). The show runs 6-9 p.m. and is $5 at the door. Proceeds from “The Socialite Thursdays” event at 10 p.m. at the

Karma Lounge (305 Broadway) will be donated to flood victims. DJ Lunchbox, Dolewite and Scooby are on the bill. The cover is $10. Friday The Infamous Stringdusters will perform two flood benefit shows at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday at the 5 Spot (1006 Forrest Ave.) in East Nashville. Proceeds will be donated to the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. Admission is $10, and the show is 21 and older. Saturday The End (2219 Elliston Place) will host a benefit with Spanish Candles, Powerbrrrd, Bad Cop

and more. The show will start at 9 p.m., and all proceeds from the $5 cover will benefit Hands On Nashville. Steely Dan tribute band Twelve Against Nature will be donating some of the proceeds from its 8 p.m. show at 3rd & Lindsley (816 Third Ave S.) to flood victims. Admission is $15. Sunday Rocketown (522 Fifth Ave. S.) will host a 10-act bill that includes Heavy Cream and PUJOL. Admission is free, and the listing asks attendees to bring donations of money or “any food, cleaning items, clothes, etc.” —STAFF REPORTS

City beer distributors knocked off-line By Chas Sisk

THE TENNESSEAN

Add another casualty to the flood: beer. The waters that spilled over the Cumberland River’s banks shut down — temporarily — all three of Nashville’s beer distributors: Ajax Turner Co., Det Distributing Co. and R.S. Lipman Co. But don’t panic just yet. The shutdown has led to few empty coolers in the city’s super-

markets and gas stations, and the industry says delivery trucks should be back on the road before beer stocks run low. “There’s no shortage yet,” said Rich Foge, executive director of the Tennessee Malt Beverage Association. “It’s not going to be an issue.” How could all three beer distributors be knocked out at once? The waterfront is one of the few places in Nashville where a business can find cheap real estate

and a central location. Ajax Turner’s distribution center on Visco Drive, which runs parallel to the Cumberland near the junction of I-40 and I-24, was covered by 10 feet of water Sunday night. Det and R.S. Lipman lost access to their facilities in MetroCenter when safety officials decided to shut down that neighborhood out of fear the river would overwhelm the levee. MetroCenter appears to have suffered little flood damage, and it

may reopen as soon as today. Ajax Turner opened a temporary distribution center in La Vergne; it may resume deliveries today. But damage has been done. Cases and cases of beer could not be saved from the Cumberland, said Ajax owner Scott Turner. “Any of that product that touched floodwater is ruined,” he said. “Our losses will be significant.” Reach Chas Sisk at 615-259-8283 or csisk@tennessean.com.

A disaster relief social media campaign similar to that staged for the Haiti earthquake has taken hold. Facebook and Twitter are alive with posts that say, “Text ‘REDCROSS’ to 90999 to donate $10 to flood relief.” Some, such as Jim Day of Franklin, wonder where the money is going. “My whole concern was that this money would be sent to Haiti or to something other than the efforts here in Nashville,” Day said. “I think it’s great to help other places, as well, but I want to help my neighbors.” All American Red Cross text message, online and phone donations are funneled to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, a general fund used for aid in the United States, according to Middle Tennessee Red Cross spokesman Mitch Turner. That money is being used to feed and shelter people who were forced to flee their homes after severe weather brought tornadoes and flooding to the Southeast. The hardest-hit areas were in Tennessee, but the Red Cross money also is going for aid in Kentucky and Mississippi. To donate to Haiti’s earthquake relief, a person has to text the word “HAITI” to the 90999 number. The Red Cross purposely has not designated funds to specific causes such as “Nashville flood.” That way, Turner said, if donations exceed Red Cross expenses for a specific disaster, contributions can be used to serve victims of other disasters. To contribute to: ² The American Red Cross, text REDCROSS to 90999, call 615250-4300 or go to www.nashvilleredcross.org. ² The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, call 615-3214939 or 888-540-5200 or go to www.cfmt.org/floodrelief. ² The Salvation Army of Tennessee, go to www.salarmy-nashville.com. ² The United Way of Metropolitan Nashville, call 211 or go to www.unitedwaynashville.org.

Donations, drives and more ways to help Here is a sampling of community food and clothing drives and fundraising events in Middle Tennessee. For a list of more than 30 similar events, visit Tennessean.com and click on Help. To let us know about an upcoming event, e-mail Julie Dwyer with complete details at jdwyer@tennessean.com. Put “flood relief” in the subject line. ² Victims of the flood in southeast Nashville can find disaster relief items and a free meal today at Antioch Church of Christ at 2142 Antioch Pike. Supplies — including cleaning products, diapers, pillows, sheets, shovels, brooms, box fans, cereal, rakes and food boxes — will be available from noon until 3 p.m. while they last. In addition, a free hot meal and a takehome sack lunch will be provided. ² The United Way of Sumner County will have a cleaning supply drop-off from 5 to 8 p.m. today at Hendersonville City Hall at 101 Maple Drive N. They are overflowing with clothing but need floor or box fans, bleach, cleaning supplies, trash bags, work or housecleaning gloves and old or new towels. ² In Cheatham County, residents can drop off donations at the old Fred’s (next to Tractor Supply) on Frey Street in Ashland City from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. or at Harpeth Middle School on Kingston Springs Road from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Clothes also can be dropped off at Bethesda Center on Main Street in Ashland City. To volunteer for clean-up efforts, visit the Cheatham County Chamber of Commerce website at www.cheathamchamber.org. ² Spring Hollow Early Learning Center in Franklin is holding a carnival from 5 to 7:30 p.m. today at the preschool with a portion of the proceeds going to The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee’s flood relief fund. The school also is hosting a toy drive. The cost is $5 per person or $20 per family; children get in free with the donation of a gently used (non-plush) toy. The center is at 4207 Arno Road.


LOCAL & BUSINESS B

THURSDAY, MAY 6, 2010 THE TENNESSEAN

BREAKING NEWS ON YOUR CELL

Text TNNEWS to 44636 (4INFO) for breaking news updates as they happen.

FLOOD OF 2010

Gun bill passes, goes to governor

House gives veto-proof vote to allow firearms in bars By Richard Locker

THE COMMERCIAL APPEAL

A house in the Buena Vista neighborhood came completely off its foundation and landed in the middle of the street on Wednesday. DIPTI VAIDYA / THE TENNESSEAN

Step up, Nashville, even if your feet are wet

Best I can figure, we were sitting in the Gospel Tent listening to the Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club Men’s Ensemble when the flood waters began threatening our neighborhood Sunday morning. They were singing “Down by the Riverside.” Seriously. We’d heard reports of heavy rain and flooding at home. But we were more concerned with the weather at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. It was a Winnie the Pooh kind of day — blustery and drizzly. Back at our hotel room late in the day, I turned on the Weather Channel. Jim Cantore was reporting from Nashville. That’s a scary sight. We learned that our Bellevue area was hit hard. Disaster trumps vacation every time. The following hours were a blur of packing fast and trying to get any information about our neighborhood. People are kind — we heard from far-flung friends. Co-workers and one of my top

roof matter? Did we ever put the wedding picture negatives in the lock box? And the super-sized one: What are we going to do?

It’s a ‘new day’ >> GAIL KERR news competitors tried to find out if our house was OK. The only real news we heard was that water was blocking the entrance to our subdivision. Over the years, my husband and I have made hasty trips home from vacations through tornadoes, snow, ice, and a couple of health emergencies. We have it down to a fine science: He drives. I cry. So many fears tumbled around my mind: Was our beagle OK at the kennel? Why did I bother to clean house before we left? Would our brand new

On the way out of New Orleans — a city ravaged by floodwaters after hurricane Katrina — we listened to radio coverage of new Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s inauguration (he’s the guy wooing Police Chief Ronal Serpas). He declared it a “new day” in the Big Easy: “There is nothing broken here that cannot be fixed. No problem here that cannot be solved. No breach or divide that cannot be repaired.” An apropos thought, and one I tried unsuccessfully to believe as we got closer to home. One friend got a call through to our cell phone: Our subdivision was, indeed, mostly under water. Another called later: The front of our

>> KERR, 2B

Despite a passionate speech by a Republican asking, “What line will we not cross for the NRA?” the House approved the guns-in-bars bill Wednesday night and sent it to the governor. The House voted 66-31, a veto-proof majority, to approve the Senate bill that passed last week, after rejecting an amendment to maintain the gun ban in bars but allow guns in restaurants serving alcoholic beverages. If it becomes law as expected, it allows more than 270,000 Tennesseans with handgun-carry permits, plus millions of others from states whose permits are recognized by Tennessee, to go armed into any business serving alcohol of any kind. Owners may post signs prohibiting guns. And a permit holder caught drinking while carrying is subject to a misdemeanor charge punishable by up to a year in jail and a three-year suspension of the Republican Curry Todd, permit. The amendment would have of Collierville, banned guns in businesses deriv- sponsored the ing less than half of their income guns-in-bars from food sales and required own- bill. ers of such places to post gun-ban signs. It was voted down, 60-36. Lawmakers in 2009 passed a loosely worded bill purporting to allow guns in restaurants serving alcohol but left it to the public to differentiate between those establishments and “bars” with more liquor sales than food, a distinction that technically doesn’t exist in Tennessee law. It was in effect four months before a judge overturned it as unconstitutionally vague. Presenting the food-sales amendment Wednesday, Rep. Harry Tindell, D-Knoxville, told the House: “The choice is simple. Support this amendment if you want to limit handguns to restaurants like Applebee’s and O’Charley’s. “If you want to take it into Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge down on Broadway, if you want to take it into any bar, club, nightclub, lounge, honky-tonk or beer joint in the state, you’ll want to defeat the amendment.”

>> GUNS, 6B

Court battle won’t stop Day of Prayer events today By Bob Smietana THE TENNESSEAN

Furniture, clothes and appliances line West Hamilton Road in North Nashville as residents clean their homes after the flood. LARRY McCORMACK / THE TENNESSEAN

Displaced students get some slack Metro planning when to reopen schools By Janell Ross

THE TENNESSEAN

Most Metro Nashville Public Schools employees are back at work today and trying to determine just how soon students might join them. When Nashville’s students do return to class, they’ll be the last in the area to do so. But they will find a district ready to bend rules about dress codes, textbooks and zone attendance so that students can start learning again, district officials said in a statement released Wednesday. Federal law requires the district to do what it can to accommodate home-

less and displaced students, said Olivia Brown, a district spokeswoman. That includes temporary changes in school rules: ² Students displaced by the flood can attend the school in which they were enrolled before the flood, or the school in the zone where they have moved. Emergency hardship transfers won’t be required unless parents request a school other than those two options. ² Students forced to move outside Davidson County can continue attending their pre-flood school. ² Those who lost their school clothing will not be expected to meet the district’s dress code immediately. Families needing help with school attire can submit their needs to the district. If available, clothing will be

sent to the child at school. ² Displaced students will qualify for free or reduced-price meals. ² Students displaced from other counties will be permitted to enroll, even if they lack proof of address or other documents normally required for school enrollment. ² Absences because of the flood will be marked as excused. ² Students who lost textbooks in the flood will not be held responsible, but lost books should be reported to the school. Students will be provided copies of relevant sections of the textbooks. ² Students who need special transportation to remain at their pre-flood school should contact the MNPS Cus-

>> SCHOOLS, 2B

The National Day of Prayer isn’t dead yet. Hundreds of local believers are expected to attend Day of Prayer events in downtown Nashville and at First Baptist Church in Hendersonville today. A federal judge in Wisconsin recently ruled that the law, which orders the president to declare an annual prayer day, is unconstitutional, although she delayed enforcing the ruling until appeals are exhausted, allowing this year’s events to take place. “As a citizen, I don’t need anyone’s permission to pray,” said Sarah Lowe, the South Central National Leader for the National Day of Prayer Task force. Lowe was echoing the sentiments of many Christians upset by the judge’s ruling. — SARAH But in that ruling, U.S. District LOWE, Judge Barbara Crabb said someNational Day thing very similar: That the govof Prayer ernment shouldn’t tell people when to pray. Crabb said Congress Task Force violated the First Amendment by passing a law directing the president to encourage citizens to pray, and she said the law amounted to a government endorsement of a religious exercise. She emphasized that her conclusion was not a judgment “on the value of prayer or the millions of Americans who believe in its power.”

“As a citizen, I don’t need anyone’s permission to pray.”

>> PRAYER, 8B REPORT NEWS 259-8068 OR FAX 259-8093 OR E-MAIL: LOCAL@TENNESSEAN.COM

EVENT LISTINGS CALENDAR@TENNESSEAN.COM


2B • THURSDAY, MAY 6, 2010

CP

LOCAL & STATE NEWS

THE TENNESSEAN

FLOOD OF 2010

CLEANUP AND RECOVERY

Williamson schools chief defends return to classes

DISASTER INFORMATION CENTERS The city’s disaster service centers are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day; lawyers will be on hand to help anyone who needs assistance. No appointments are needed. The centers are set up at the following locations: Bellevue Community Center, 656 Colice Jeanne Road; Coleman Community Center, 384 Thompson Lane; East Community Center, 700 Woodland St.; Hadley Park Community Center, 1037 28th Ave. N.; Hermitage Community Center, 3720 James Kay Lane.

DEBRIS All regular residential brush collections have been suspended so trucks and employees can be used for disaster debris removal. Residential disaster debris collection guidelines are available on the Public Works website at www.nashville.gov/pw. Residents should review these to know how to separate items before placing them at the curb for pickup. Crews will begin limited collections in the Bellevue, Antioch and Bordeaux areas this morning, and will extend pickups countywide early next week.

TRASH PICKUP All Metro trash and recycling will be collected on schedule except where roads are impassable. Residents who lost carts to flooding may place items at curbside or alley pickup locations in plastic bags and label them as Trash or Recycling. Do not block alleyways. Replacement carts may be requested by calling 311 or 880-1000.

By Maria Giordano THE TENNESSEAN

Debris, including a Sea Ray boat, came to rest at a bridge in Erin, Tenn., after high water flooded part of the town. SHELLEY MAYS / THE TENNESSEAN

CONVENIENCE CENTERS All three Metro Convenience Centers are open at regular operating hours, and Public Works is allowing residents to make three free visits each day to dispose of trash and debris. Household hazardous waste such as paint, cleaners and solvents as well as flooddamaged electronics can be taken to the East Convenience Center on Adams Drive off Trinity Lane. Metro’s other convenience centers are on Omohundro Place and in the Rivergate area on Anderson Lane off Myatt Drive.

FLOOD HELP ■ United Way’s 211 service can connect callers with roughly 7,000 programs in Middle Tennessee that offer assistance with food, clothing and shelter, among others. Call 211. ■ For those who have questions about flooding or need non-emergency assistance, Metro has a hot line, 615-862-8574.

HOW TO HELP ■ Volunteer Tennessee, working with the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, has activated the Tennessee Emergency Donations Hotline. The toll-free number is 866-586-4483; the hot line will be staffed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily to match callers with a website that hosts 48 organizations. Additionally, these agencies are accepting donations: Red Cross of Middle Tennessee, www. nashvilleredcross.org; Hands On Nashville, www. hon.org; and the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, www.cfmt.org. ■ Middle Tennessee Kroger stores are collecting donations of money and nonperishable items. ■ Drop off donations of bottled water, new clothes and cleaning supplies at Christ Church, 15354 Old Hickory Blvd. Call 615-8346171 for information. ■ To donate to The Salvation Army’s relief efforts, calling 1-800-7252769 or visit www.salarmy -nashville.com. — COMPILED BY TENNESSEAN STAFF

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FRANKLIN — Williamson County Schools Director Mike Looney defended his decision to send students back to school Tuesday, saying it’s best to get students back into their routines. Looney was lambasted on some talk radio shows and by some parents for opening schools so quickly after the floods. Some roads in the district still remain impassable, and countless water-damaged homes are in the earliest stages of recovery. “Kids need stability and routine,” Looney said. “In the midst of the chaos, schools can become a place of refuge, where they can be among their peers, to talk

with teachers and counselors … get away from the grown-up stuff.” Looney said about 95 percent of the students attended school on Tuesday, and about 93 percent of the employees also made it back. It was a good day, Looney said. He acknowledges that there are county residents with strong negative emotions, but he said he firmly believes his decision to reopen schools was the right one. Looney said he’s been through natural disasters before, namely hurricanes, and being in school is best for the students. School officials said they know of about the families of 500 students that were affected by the flooding brought on by the storms over the weekend. Hard hit

was the Grassland community, including the Cottonwood subdivision. Other pockets of communities also were affected, Looney said. Looney and Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson and Franklin Mayor John Schroer surveyed flood damage by helicopter on Monday. No schools, including those that are under construction, were severely damaged as a result of the deluge. Westwood Elementary School withstood the most water damage, with 2 to 3 inches of water and mud in the school. The school was clean and ready to go on Tuesday. Contact Maria Giordano at 615-771-5425 or mgiordano@tennessean.com.

Metro schools to set reopening date >> SCHOOLS FROM 1B tomer Service Center. Director of Schools Jesse Register said he hopes to get Davidson County students back in their seats no later than Monday. A final decision probably will be made today, when most of the district’s 10,000 employees are expected to report to work. The majority of the district’s 139 schools sustained little or no flood damage, Brown said. Students who attend school at the flooded Opry Mills Mall will instead attend classes at McGavock High School Media Center, she said. Public schools in Williamson County and the city of Lebanon reopened Tuesday; those in Wilson, Sumner and Rutherford counties opened Wednesday. But in Davidson County, the

essential problems keeping schools closed are impassable roads and the logistics of transporting about 76,000 students across a waterlogged city. “When they get to a point that they could run alternate routes, they will, but we aren’t there yet,” Brown said. “And with a district this size, we have to be able to run all of our routes. It’s all or nothing. We are a large district, the logistics are complicated and it just can’t be done any other way.” The district had been set to end classes May 27. The original schedule included the legally mandated 180 days of instruction time plus five extras in case of extreme weather. But after record-setting winter snowfall, the district wound up with a gap in instruction

time. School days were extended for a half hour to make up time, and students just completed that process last week, Brown said. As of today, students are four days short of the 180day requirement, Brown said. Davidson County will request a waiver from the state. The shorter school calendar in Davidson County is not expected to have a financial impact on the district. State per-pupil payments are made based on an average daily attendance figure derived over the course of several different days in the school year, said Amanda Maynord Anderson, a spokeswoman with the Tennessee Department of Education. Staff writer Janell Ross can be reached at 615-726-5982 or jross1@tennessean.com.

Vacation cut short as friends share news >> KERR FROM PAGE 1B house looked dry. I held my breath as we turned onto our street. The water had receded, and we could see the muddy bathtub ring left behind. Our house, which sits on a little patch of higher ground, wasn’t even damp. Belle the beagle is also safe. Many — no, most — of our neighbors were not so lucky. Wednesday morning,

their yards were piled high with wet carpet, insulation, drywall, furniture, mattresses and ruined kiddie toys. My eyes are chapped from weeping. So what are we going to do? We are going to help them. We are going to shake off survivor guilt and turn it into love and elbow grease. We are going to open our hearts and our wallets. New Orleans’ new mayor called on his beleaguered

city to “Take one step. Don’t stop. Don’t turn back. One step. Keep going. One step. One team. One fight. One voice. One city. One single step.” That’s what Nashville is going to do, too. Breathe deep. Grasp your courage. And take one step at a time, y’all. Gail Kerr’s column runs on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. She can be reached at 615-259-8085 or gkerr@tennessean.com. Follow Gail on Twitter@GailKerr.

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FLOOD OF 2010 SIXTH DAY OF COVERAGE

FRIDAY, MAY 7, 2010 Debris piles up, businesses reel at losses


INSIDE: PULL-OUT FLOOD RESOURCE GUIDE

F R I D AY, M AY 7, 2 0 1 0 • NA S H V I L L E

FLOOD OF 2010

Life’s possessions reduced to trash

Friends from Johnson Elementary School and Pensacola, Fla., help clean out flood debris at the home of Mark Tumblin on Rebel Circle in Rebel Meadows subdivision in Franklin. Tumblin helped his friends in Pensacola clean out their home after Hurricane Ivan. JEANNE REASONOVER / THE TENNESSEAN

Family’s lone search for son finally gets help

Haulers work overtime to clear neighborhoods

By Jennifer Brooks

By Brian Haas

For days now, the only ones searching for a teenager swept away by this weekend’s flood have been his anguished parents, his grandparents and a determined band of volunteers in canoes. “I’m not going to sit around and leave my son out there,” said Roger Brown, who set out from his Iowa farm on Sunday night, as soon as he got word that his only son, 18-year-old Dan, had vanished that day while rafting on rain-swollen Mill Creek. One family’s tragedy had been dwarfed by a citywide catastrophe. When the Browns appealed to emergency services for help — boats, dogs, air searches, trained volunteers to comb the creek bank for some sign of their son, anything — they heard the same response. All the searchers, dogs, boats, choppers and trained searchers were already out in the field, rescuing people from flooded neighborhoods in every corner of the city. That changed on Thursday afternoon, when dozens of emergency workers, released from rescue efforts, arrived at

Ralithen Hill greeted the garbage trucks in her neighborhood Thursday with a mixture of relief and sadness. “It’s just funny seeing all the stuff you thought was valuable all looks like garbage. It all runs together,” Hill, 39, said outside of her Buena Vista home in Bordeaux. “Seeing it gone is emotional. It’s a mess.” Dozens of garbage haulers took to the streets in some flood-stricken neighborhoods for the first time this week to pick up the mounting debris accumulating along the curbs. Davidson County public works officials cannot estimate how much garbage there is to haul away. Workers are on 12hour shifts and have begun dumping debris at strategic staging areas throughout the county until they can figure out where it will go. “We are working on the

THE TENNESSEAN

>> SEARCH, 11A

8 PAGES OF COVERAGE

THE TENNESSEAN

Daniel Brown’s parents, Roger and Joyce Brown, look out onto the area of Mill Creek where they are leading their own search for Daniel, who has been missing since he went rafting Sunday. ALICIA GIPSON / THE TENNESSEAN

■ Gaylord hotel’s reopening months away, 13A ■ Gail Kerr: Churches share ambition, 13A ■ Government, Nashville businesses offer aid, 14A

TENNESSEAN.COM OFFER HELP: A growing list of community relief efforts GET HELP: Resource guide for those affected; how to apply for relief UPDATES: Ongoing coverage throughout the day end disposal sites,” said Gwen Hopkins, spokeswoman for Metro Public Works. “Our focus at the moment is getting our trucks on a schedule and getting them out to where they need to be. It’s going to be huge, certainly nothing we’ve ever experienced before.” Residents in Bellevue, Antioch and Bordeaux saw huge trucks with mechanical arms lift sofas, mattresses and dressers from their front

yards into waiting truck bins, where the remnants were smashed to make room for more. On Thursday, public works officials estimate they collected 2,100 cubic yards. “That’s approximately 75 to 80 truckloads,” Hopkins said. She didn’t have estimates as to how many truckloads of debris are collected each day, but said it was far less than

>> TRASH, 10A

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VOL. 106, NO. 127


FLOOD OF 2010

10A • FRIDAY, MAY 7, 2010

THE TENNESSEAN

Metro hasn’t figured out final sites for debris >> TRASH FROM 1A what they picked up Thursday. Normally, the county’s garbage is transported to the Middle Point landfill in Murfreesboro. It’s not clear if the bulk of the storm’s wreckage will end up there, but landfill employees there have been put on 24-hour shifts during weekdays to tackle an anticipated surge in debris dropoffs. “We’re not sure about the volume that could be coming this way, but we’re geared for it,” said John Doyen, general manager for the landfill, managed by

Allied Waste. Doyen said capacity will not be an issue for the landfill. He said Davidson and other counties that use the landfill will be charged their normal per-ton rates, which vary by contract.

Trash should be sorted Public works officials are asking residents to separate their debris into four piles: appliances and metals, construction and demolition debris, vegetation and organic waste, and household trash and garbage. Hopkins said that they understand not everyone can separate the debris, but

doing so will make disposal quicker. Residents need to avoid putting garbage or debris under power lines or near power poles. Regular garbage pickups from areas serviced by public works will continue, she said. Many residents in the Bordeaux area were largely finished tearing out soaked carpeting, knocking down moldy walls and pulling their worldly possessions to front lawns to dry or be taken to the dump. Donald Majors, a public works equipment operator driving one of the debris haulers, readied to drop off his fourth full load by 11:30

a.m. He said people generally were happy to see the trucks make their way

down their streets. “I’m glad to be out here helping,” he said. It’s a change from the scrap metal scavengers who descended upon West Hamilton Avenue over the past few nights. Sometimes, they asked residents if they could salvage metals. Sometimes, they just took it, Hill said. “I’ve seen people from La Vergne and Mt. Juliet scoping for scrap metal,” she said. “A lot of people are trying to make a little money.” To that end, police were posted at entrances to that and other neighborhoods around Davidson County. Metro police warned they would confront anyone they see removing things

Mud-covered bikes lie in the hard-hit Inglewood area of Nashville. SANFORD MYERS / THE TENNESSEAN

from people’s yards. As the trucks continued down Hamilton, Edward and Janice Johnson took a break from cleaning out their soaked home to survey what soon would be snatched up by mechanical claws. Janice Johnson eyed an antique chair by the road. It was a gift from her mother. It would soon be gone. “That’s all right,” she said with a sigh. “I have my life.”

DEBRIS-CLEARING TIPS For Metro customers, all items and materials must be placed at the curb or street side. Do not place items in public alleys. Those need to remain clear for emergency crews and trash collection services. Divide the debris into four piles: ² White goods and metals (appliances, etc.) ² Construction and demolition debris (lumber, windows, etc.) ² Vegetation (brush, limbs and other yard waste) ² Household trash and garbage (including carpet) Do not bring these items to Metro convenience centers for disposal. For additional information, call Metro Public Works at 615-862-8750.

INSIDE SUNDAY

Damage said to top $1 billion. Families without homes. Businesses gone. The emergency has abated, now recovery begins. Pick up Sunday’s paper as we explore the economic impact of Flood 2010 and its effect on us all: • • • •

Frat Cleat

Tax revenue losses Massive infrastructure costs for government Commerce created And more...

ALSO SUNDAY

Things went from bad to worse to unimaginable quickly, catching residents – and the government - by surprise. How did it happen? Volunteers have come out in droves. Learn about Hands On Nashville, which came to the forefront as the volunteer coordinator on this.

ON TENNESSEAN.COM/FLOOD

• • • • •

Water conservation efforts Ways you can help Road conditions and closures Tips if you suffered flood damage Recovery efforts

• • • •

Safety issues and help lines Insurance phone numbers and advice Reader photos and videos Video: Flood questions answered by FEMA official

STAY UP TO DATE Breaking News Get updates and breaking news as it happens on Tennessean.com Mobile Text For fastest updates, get headlines straight to your cell, just text TNNEWS to 44636 (4INFO). Gunnison

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TN-0000598496


FLOOD OF 2010

THE TENNESSEAN

FRIDAY, MAY 7, 2010 • 11A

Family finally gets help they’ve been pleading for >> SEARCH FROM 1A the creek to begin what everyone fears has become a recovery, not a rescue. Dan’s mother, Joyce, numb from days of searching, still holds on to hope. His father, who served eight years in the infantry, calmly discusses the cadaver dogs they will need to continue the search for their son. “I’ve been on body searches in Iowa. Up until now, I couldn’t fathom what that must feel like,” he said, tearing up. But for four long days, no one in the flood-ravaged city seemed to have the resources to spare to start a search of Mill Creek. “We want somebody to help us. They never did,” said Dan’s grandfather, John Urmie, standing in a marshy field along Lebanon Pike, where Dan’s classmates — some who drove down from Iowa and some from Nashville’s SAE Institute, where Dan is studying sound engineering — were out in canoes, searching the still-flooded creek. Family and friends distributed missing persons fliers around town, hoping against hope that he might have made it out of the water. They went door to door, looking for someone who could lend them a boat. Brown hired a day laborer with a machete to cut a path along the soggy, treacherous creek bank so he could search on foot. They called canoe rental companies all over the region. That’s how they found Larry Wells, owner of Duck River Canoe Rental in Chapel Hill, Tenn., who pulled a flat-bottomed boat up from Alabama to help with the search. “I’m real sad for him. If it was my kid, I’d be standing out on the banks of the creek, too,” said Wells, whose boat turned out to be too heavy to maneuver in the debris-choked creek but who stuck around all day, in the blistering heat, just in case he was needed.

Stunt went wrong fast Dan Brown, a talented young musician, used to sit on the porch of his parents’ farm and play his guitar — rock ’n’ roll, blues, country, you name it, he could play it. When he graduated from Springville High School, he made his way to Nashville, where he enrolled in the SAE Institute of Technology. On Sunday, he and two classmates pulled on their swimming trunks and hopped into Mill Creek on three lashed-together inflatable rafts that were little more than pool toys. It was the kind of stunt that teenage boys pull, and it began to go very wrong, very quickly. Mill Creek was flash flooding. Within a quarter of a mile, the fragile raft slammed into the bridge along Murfreesboro Pike — a bridge that usually soars over the tiny creek. On Sunday, the creek roared over the bridge and horrified eyewitnesses saw the raft hit and then get dragged beneath by the current. One of the young men crawled to safety there. Another was rescued a mile downstream. Dan, however, had vanished. His father found two of the inflatable rafts dangling under the bridge. The searchers found the other canoe far downstream. The creek is still running high and clogged with huge piles of debris, creating a frustrating, hazardous maze for the volunteers. “We need professionals who can navigate this creek and help with the search. We need professionals with cadaver dogs,” Brown said. And then, like someone had flipped a switch, the professionals began arriving Thursday afternoon. Extra police cars began pulling up to the family’s staging area on Lebanon Road, joining Sgt. Mark Denton, who had helped the lost and disoriented family on their first night in town and who had gone out on his own to search the creek, trying to help. Two volunteers from Davidson County Rescue Squad, Ali Hemyari and Nick Wolkonsky, also had come out on their day off to

help with the search. Then half a dozen firefighters rolled up, followed by an entire urban search and rescue squad, until there were at least 25 emergency workers out and ready to roll. The police chopper arrived, flying low over the treetops, crisscrossing the creek, search-

ing. Nashville rescue crews have been working 36-hour shifts, dealing with trapped flood victims and going door to door in flooded neighborhoods, checking to make sure that there are no bodies inside. “Most of these guys have been out all week, chopping

holes in attics with axes and pulling people out,” said District Fire Chief Buddy Byers, joining the search. Thursday’s operation moved to the Murfreesboro Bridge, the last place Dan had been seen, and the professionals took over. The construction crew overseeing the bridge repair

sent a bulldozer down the hill to plow a clear path to the waterline for the rescue boats. The cadaver dog and its handler arrived. It was 3:30 p.m. Thursday and the official search had begun. And that was almost worse for his parents, who suddenly had nothing to do except watch and wait.

“I wish there was something I could do,” Brown said. A few hours later, the search was called off. The cadaver dog was tired, the family was told. The search for Dan Brown resumes today. Contact Jennifer Brooks at 615-2598892 or jabrooks@tennessean.com.

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TN-0000598491


FLOOD OF 2010

12A • FRIDAY, MAY 7, 2010

THE TENNESSEAN

BUSINESS IMPACT

Riverfront industry reels after floods BUSINESS RELIEF

Manufacturers start work to pick up the pieces

Shawn Courtney, co-owner of Past Perfect, sits in his restaurant and tries to figure out his losses after the basement of their building flooded.

The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce has set up a website to help businesses find flood relief. For information, visit www.nashvillechamber.com/flood.

By Chas Sisk

THE TENNESSEAN

facturers. Clustered near the banks of the Cumberland River within sight of downtown’s skyscrapers, light industrial zones in East and South Nashville received flooding every bit as intense as the deluge that washed away riverfront homes. The owners of businesses in these areas are only beginning to assess damages. They are finding that the waters drenched industrial machinery, soaked records and swept away chemicals, raw materials and inventory.

Each thought felt like a kick in the stomach. The metal fabrication shop — gone. Computers, engineering drawings — gone, gone. Raw materials, communications equipment, office furniture — all gone. “I don’t know. I don’t know,” Ken McNeese said as he looked across the floodwater receding from his mechanical contracting company. “I don’t know whether to duck or dodge at this point.” The flood that wiped out neighborhoods and cost at least 21 Tennesseans their lives also dealt a blow to dozens of Nashville manu-

Visco Drive suffers In a city where Mayor

Karl Dean has already estimated damage totals of more than $1 billion, much of it will be to riverfront business operations, said Ralph Schulz, chief executive of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce. “We don’t really have any idea,” he said. “There is a lot down by the river.” The flood has shut down the PSC Metals scrap yard in East Nashville and sharply limited barge traffic along the Cumberland. MetroCenter also was closed this week, as emergency officials worried that high water could cause the levee protecting that area to fail. But perhaps no area has

PHOTOS BY DIPTI VAIDYA / THE TENNESSEAN

been hit harder than the stretch along Visco Drive, an industrial street that runs parallel to the river on the bank opposite Shelby Park. Wedged between the Cum-

Shoe Carnival wants to help Nashville get back on their feet... The recent floods have caused tremendous devastation to the Nashville area. Many of Shoe Carnival’s employees, friends and families have suffered and lost a great deal. We want to help them make the first steps toward rebuilding. So we are partnering with the Red Cross and friends like you to bring relief to Nashville. Now through May 25th, we will be accepting cash donations in our area stores to support the local chapter of the Red Cross, and we will match those donations up to $10,000. In addition – we are offering this special $5 gift coupon to be used on anything in the store.

berland and the juncture of Interstates 40 and 24, the area has drawn in dozens of business owners such as McNeese looking for inexpensive real estate and easy access to the region. Many owners were not able to view the damage firsthand until Thursday morning. McNeese, whose company, KLM Mechanical Contractors, has been in the area for 12 years, picked his way through ruined offices with a pair of insurance adjusters. McNeese has at least $1 million in damages, he guessed. But most of the more than 100 people his company employs have been able to report to work in the field as usual, as he keeps the business running from a cell phone. “We’re going to light a candle,” he said in his waterlogged conference room. “We’re not going to cuss the darkness.”

Runoff is not a danger In addition to heavy machinery and front office equipment, companies along Visco Drive lost tires, parts, fuel and chemicals. Much of it washed into the Cumberland, but state and local officials said industrial materials should not have a significant impact on public health or the environment. The immense volume of floodwater would have diluted toxic materials to low enough levels that they aren’t likely to do harm. “We all should know not to pour motor oil into a drain that leads into a river, but it happens,” said Dr. Bill Paul, Metro’s director of health. “This is a large-scale version of stuff that happens every day.”

The flood took many companies by surprise. Visco Drive had not flooded since 1975, and even then, the waters reached only a foot or two deep. Most businesses did not start trying to move inventory, supplies and equipment to higher ground until Sunday morning, owners and managers said. By then the heavy rains were already pouring down and the Cumberland’s waters were rising. “We have a pretty good contingency plan,” said Stan Fossick, vice president of Mid-South Wire Co. “But it’s hard to have a contingency plan when the water’s coming up a foot an hour.” Mid-South typically turns out 1.5 million pounds of wire a day, Fossick said, to be used in products such as automobile seats, grocery carts and household appliances. But on Thursday, dozens of 20-ton rolls of metal, likely unsalvageable, lay rusted in the yard of MidSouth’s complex. Many of the company’s 140 workers were employed Thursday pushing muddy water from shop floors and sizing up the damage to machinery. Fossick praised MidSouth’s employees for coming in to clean up — even bringing in wives and girlfriends to help in some cases. Walking through the darkened, muddy manufacturing facility, he couldn’t begin to guess when production will resume. “A lot will depend on how fast we can replace the motors and controls in these machines,” Fossick said. “We just don’t know.” Reach Chas Sisk at 615-259-8283 or csisk@tennessean.com.

Working together, step by step, we’ll get the people of Nashville back on their feet.

Automotive Center employees survey the damage and gather to begin salvage and recovery at the office Thursday on Omohundro Drive in Nashville.

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Memphis rail link to Nashville closed The main railroad between Memphis and Nashville has been knocked out of service, as the flood damaged five bridges along the route. The Memphis line has been shut down since Sunday, according to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency and CSX Corp., the line’s owner. Workers were assessing damage Thursday, but the flood appears to have washed out two bridges over the Harpeth River and rendered three others unusable. Shipments that ordinarily come to Nashville from

Memphis are being rerouted, but customers have been told to expect a delay of 72 hours or more, according to CSX. The Memphis line is the longest of several railroads that were damaged by the storm. A CSX spur that runs from Nashville to Spring Hill also was knocked out of commission, and several short-line routes in West Tennessee have been shut, according to TEMA. Major rail routes that run into Nashville from the north, south and east have returned to service, according to CSX. — CHAS SISK, THE TENNESSEAN


FLOOD OF 2010

THE TENNESSEAN

FRIDAY, MAY 7, 2010 • 13A

THE FALLOUT

Deacon James Cliff shows the damage to the sanctuary of Rose of Sharon Primitive Baptist Church, on Milford Road in North Nashville. Water rose to the the top of the carport. The church office, with all of its documents, was lost. SAMUEL M. SIMPKINS / THE TENNESSEAN

Battered churches different, but share drive to recover This is the tale of two flooded Nashville churches. One is a big-steeple Belle Meade landmark, with 3,300 members. The other is a modest red-brick building in the Bordeaux suburbs, with 90 members. One congregation is wealthy congregants with a vast array of contacts and resources. The other is a tiny old-fashioned neighborhood church. But St. George’s Episcopal Church and Rose of Sharon Primitive Baptist Church have a lot more in common than you think. Both have generations of families who depend on them. Both are deeply loved. And Nashville’s flood of 2010 tore into both. ••• St. George’s Episcopal Church, opened in 1949, is wellknown even to people who don’t go there because of its location at 4715 Harding Road and its outreach ministries. It’s a popular pick for weddings and funerals. Water began streaming down the aisle during the 7:30 a.m. Sunday service. “We were literally in the Eucharist prayer,” said the Rev. R. Leigh Spruill, rector. Six inches of water quickly spread through the church. About 25 people rushed to save most of the church’s art and treasures. Within hours, touching offers of help came from other churches. The Temple will host

•••

>> GAIL KERR St. George’s children and nursery Sunday morning. The Nashville Bank and Trust will be used for parking and to stage shuttles. Deep grief, Spruill said, is felt for three deceased members. Three church employees live in Bellevue, and have flood damage at home. St. George’s will hold two worship services Sunday, at 7:30 a.m. and 8:45 a.m., and two funerals. Services for Bill and Frankie Rutledge will be at 11:15 a.m. They died trying to get to church in the flood. Services for member Harry Johnson will be at 2 p.m. He died of cancer. “One of the messages that I will share with the congregation this weekend is that God has graced us with gifts to get us on our feet again,” the rector said. “It’s going to be hard.” By Thursday, fans and dehumidifying equipment lined the hallways. Workers were knocking out wet drywall. The children’s furniture was drying outside in neat stacks. There was a vase of pretty purple carnations on the receptionist’s desk.

Church-goers couldn’t make it to worship Sunday morning at Rose of Sharon Primitive Baptist Church, 3903 Milford Road. Rising water in their own backyards blocked them. The church, opened in the early 1970s, took on 7 feet. Water had to recede before churchgoers could do anything. So they turned their attention to the destroyed neighborhoods off West Hamilton, passing out food and water. Members found the body of their friend, Robert Woods, 74. Thursday morning, church leaders drove in to see what is left. A white car, origin unknown, had floated onto the mud-caked front yard. An overturned 1,100pound propane tank sat like a beached whale. “We’re just glad the place didn’t blow up,” said member Jonathan Hall. Deacon James Cliff fretted over insurance rules: “If we paid for insurance all these years, and we weren’t in a flood plain, and now we’re devastated and they won’t pay, that’s just not right. We’ve got an heirloom organ and piano in there.” There were jokes about snakes, some nervous laughter, and then they opened the church door. The stench — sickeningly sweet even with a mask — was a stomach flipper. There were gasps: “Look at the communion stuff,” said Shawnda Jones, church clerk. The walls were buckling. Mud

Gerry Senechal, associate director of music, sweeps dirt from the sanctuary floor as dehumidifiers take out the moisture from St. George’s Episcopal Church, 104 Belle Meade Blvd. Water flooded the ground floor, including the sanctuary, chapel and offices. LARRY MCCORMACK / THE TENNESSEAN

covered everything. Every lock on every window was stuck. Still, church leaders vow to worship somewhere Sunday. They hope the pews will dry enough to be reusable. Saturday will be a cleanup day. “We’ve overcome a lot of storms,” Jones said. “I surely

trust in God that he will provide. We’re going to rebuild. It’s just a building. “God is in your heart.” Gail Kerr’s column usually runs on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. She can be reached at 615-259-8085 or gkerr@ tennessean.com.

Opryland could be closed for six months By Bonna Johnson THE TENNESSEAN

Just as the Gaylord hospitality company was bouncing back after a year when nobody seemed to want to travel, its flagship property, the Opryland Resort & Convention Center, could be out of commission for as long as six months. “We have water in the tunnels; we have no understanding of the damage to the power plant. It could take three months, four months, five months or six months. The fact of the matter is that until we get the water out, we just don’t know,” Gaylord CEO and Chairman Colin Reed told The Tennessean on Thursday. Over the next six months, the hotel has more than 300,000 room nights booked for various conventions and meetings scheduled there, said company president and chief operating officer David Kloeppel.

“We are currently in discussions to move them to other locations, both ours and locations in Nashville,” Kloeppel said. Gaylord also operates resorts and convention centers in Texas, Florida and Washington, D.C. Reed also said the hotel’s staff will remain on the payroll for at least the next six weeks and will play a role in helping the vast facility rebound. It’s unclear what happens with people’s pay after that initial period. A key player in Nashville’s tourism industry, the resort was evacuated Sunday night as flooding spilled over the Cumberland River, filling parts of the hotel with 10 feet of water. Electronics systems and other high-tech equipment are at risk. With nearly 2,900 rooms and 600,000-square-feet of meeting and exhibition space, Opryland accounts for 12 percent of all hotel rooms and as much as a fourth of all the convention business the

city does. It will take a week to get floodwater pumped out of the grand hotel known for its garden-filled atriums and indoor river. By then, Reed said, the company may have a better understanding of the full extent of damages. “Until we’re able to get to the technology, we just don’t know,” he said. The $1 billion-plus hotel on the banks of the Cumberland River had $50 million in flood insurance. Asked whether that amount would be enough to cover the damages, Reed said: “Maybe, but we just don’t know.” That amount was the maximum level of flood insurance Gaylord could buy from any insurer “because we sit next to the Cumberland River,” Reed said. The company had tried to buy more, but couldn’t find an insurer willing to go above $50 million worth of coverage. Reed called 2009 one of the “toughest and scariest times I can

remember,” that is, until the floods hit on Sunday. “Last year was a year of tremendous struggle,” Reed said during a stockholders’ meeting Thursday morning at the company’s headquarters, within eyesight of the damaged hotel. Gaylord’s various hotels saw convention spending and business travel decline and cancellations spiked, he said. The company trimmed costs by $45 million and cash flow was flat; yet, flat was “extraordinary” for such a down year, Reed said. And the company was able to book more than 2.1 million room nights for future years, he said. This year, Gaylord had been cautiously optimistic, especially after coming off a first quarter that showed improvements on all fronts, with cash flow up 12 percent from a year ago. “We were very happy, until Sunday night, of course,” Reed said. “But I am very confident that

we are going to rise as a company to this challenge that we have today.” Company executives could provide more details about hotel damages and their plans at a Friday news conference. While Opryland is closed, the city will lose out on a fifth of its hotel tax collections, and tourism revenue could go down by 10 percent to 20 percent, depending in part on how many of Opryland’s conventions can be switched to other venues in Nashville. Nashville convention officials have been scrambling to rebook some of Opryland’s meetings to other Nashville facilities. Already this week, at least two large groups have committed to move to the Nashville Convention Center and stay in town. Contact Bonna Johnson at 615-726-5990 or bjohnson@tennessean.com.


FLOOD OF 2010

14A • FRIDAY, MAY 7, 2010

THE TENNESSEAN

ASSESSING THE TOLL DISASTER AREAS GROW; MORE EXPECTED

27 counties have been declared disaster areas by the federal government. Gov. BredesenÕs office has asked the federal government to declare 52 of TennesseeÕs 95 counties disaster zones.

Nashville Memphis

MAP AREA

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deman Hardeman ayette Har FFayette McNairy THE TENNESSEAN

Debrah Loftis gets a hug from her cousin, Fred Garrison, who helped her gather possessions from her home in Old Hickory. JOHN PARTIPILO / THE TENNESSEAN

Flood victims to get federal, corporate aid By Jaime Sarrio and Michael Cass THE TENNESSEAN

Rutherford and Sumner were added to a list of 25 Tennessee counties declared disaster areas by the federal government Thursday as cleanup efforts continued throughout the region. The designation makes residents eligible for assistance for rebuilding after floods devastated areas throughout Middle Tennessee this week. Davidson, Williamson, Cheatham and Hickman counties were the first to be added to the list. Rebuilding efforts also received a boost Thursday as Nashville Mayor Karl Dean announced plans to coordinate fundraising and volunteer efforts through a group of local business leaders. Executives from Gray Line Tours, Ingram Industries, Bridgestone and AT&T have formed a team that will promote ways for companies to donate time and money, as well as for damaged businesses to get assistance in getting back up and running. “This team will do the crucial work of reaching out to the business community to make sure they know that we need help,” Dean said. The Country Music Association announced Thursday that the CMA Music Festival would go on as planned in downtown Nashville, June 10-13. The group said it would donate half of the proceeds from its popular summer music festival to flood relief in Middle Tennessee. Projections suggest the amount could exceed $1 million.

Water conservation urged

county, with a few exceptions. But many residents are still without electricity, phone service or a permanent place to live. Nashville Electric Service said about 3,000 residents are without power. Tennessee’s AT&T president Gregg Morton said the company’s Bellevue area was hit hard by the floods, though the company said it was unable to say how many customers are without phone service. The company is working to restore service and said almost all cell phone calls are being connected. Metro students are still out of school, but staff are reporting for work today and bus drivers are expected to run test routes to evaluate the quality of roads. Bus monitors are also expected to report to work, but use the day volunteering with cleanup efforts in the community. Fire officials searched more than 1,000 homes in some of the city’s hardest hit areas, and no additional victims have been found.

Damage not calculated While officials and residents welcomed the news of additional areas being covered by federal disaster assistance, it’s still not clear how much money that aid will bring to the region. Dean estimates that the flood damage in Nashville alone could exceed $1 billion. Five days after the storms started, state and federal officials were still talking about the damage in awestruck tones. Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate, visiting Nashville for the second time this week, said no one was “quite prepared to look at how much rain fell in such a short period of time over such a large area.” About 8,500 residents registered with FEMA as of Thursday to qualify for disaster relief, and that number is expect to increase drastically in the coming days, Fugate said. Fugate said that outside of the United States’ assistance Haiti after an earthquake this year, this is one of the largest disaster responses he’s seen since taking over the agency in May 2009. “A place like Nashville has lots of resources to deal with this,” Gov. Phil Bredesen said on a conference call with local and national reporters. “Some of our rural counties are a much tougher case in that regard. Those are the places that FEMA and the Red Cross become extraordinarily important in the response.”

workers expected to set up camp during the rebuilding effort. Bredesen has also been in contact with President Barack Obama, and said he is welcome to visit anytime. “During the first two or three days, in my previous experience, it sometimes is counterproductive in that, when a president comes, with all that’s involved in that, it can slow things down a bit,” Bredesen said. The flood has forced Nashville to delay the capital budget that Dean announced a week ago. Metro Finance Director Rich Riebeling said he and Dean had agreed to put a hold on the $160 million funding plan they proposed when the mayor gave his State of Metro address under sunny skies on April 29. The plan included a $16 million road to connect the West End area and North Nashville and new public buildings in Bellevue and Antioch, two of the areas hit hardest by the floodwaters. “We don’t know what our priorities are until we get a sense of the damage that’s done,” Riebeling said. “And obviously we’ve got to repair those issues first before we can talk about any facilities.”

Weekend rains won’t cause more flooding By Janell Ross

THE TENNESSEAN

If rain falls today, Middle Tennesseans may be irritated but shouldn’t be afraid. After nearly a week of higher-than-normal temperatures and no rain, the Cumberland River fell below flood stage Thursday, and many of its tributaries were expected to do the same, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. The half-inch of rain projected to fall before Monday night will not be enough to bring the river, or the area’s creeks and streams, back over their banks. “It’s not good news,” said Hershel Whitworth, a hydraulic engineer with the Army Corps of Engineers. Hydraulic engineers specialize in the management and movement of water. “We would rather get another week of dry weather and get this river back under control. But I think we can manage that half an inch or so that’s expected to fall,” he said. Today, high temperatures are forecast in the upper 80s with a nighttime low in the

Get detailed forecasts at Tennessean.com. upper 50s, plus a 30 percent chance of thunderstorms, said Bobby Boyd, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Nashville. If those storms materialize, they are expected to drop about 0.10 inch of rain. Saturday’s highs will be in the upper 70s with rainfall expected. Sunday’s forecast is highs in the upper 60s with a half-inch of rain. AccuWeather says there’s a chance of a late thunderstorm tonight but has no rain in its weekend forecast. “I know people really have a lot of hardship going right now,” Boyd said. “I know when rain events come up, people, especially near the rivers, are going to be thinking, ‘Well, is it going to flood?’ But what happened last weekend was an unprecedented event.” National Weather Service records in Nashville date to 1870. Contact Janell Ross at 615-726-5982 or jross1@tennessean.com.

Neighbors help one another For all the cleanup efforts under way, most of it is taking place neighborhood by neighborhood. Amid the brown film of soot on Waterford Drive in Old Hickory, Keith Gilliam’s 1984 yearbook from Western Kentucky University is flipped open to a random page. Awkward, feathered hairstyles and faces heavy with dark eye shadow and blush stare up at the sun, trying to dry out. Gilliam didn’t have time to grab anything but a few changes of clothes and his work laptop as the flooding overwhelmed his neighborhood. The water rose so fast and by Sunday around 5 p.m. blocked the only way in and out of the Waterford Crossing subdivision. Neighbors and strangers got boats, dropping them into the water to pull nearly 200 people from their homes where the water was above 4 feet — and would only rise higher, wiping out entire first floors. People wept as they were told to put their pets on the second floor and get in the boat. “None of us thought we could have a flood back here,” said Gilliam, who sits on the board of the Waterford homeowners association. “We were told we weren’t in the 100-year flood plain.” The subdivision — sandwiched between a manmade lake and the Cumberland River — saw 250 homes submerged, along with memories and mementos handed down across family generations. About 60 homeowners don’t have flood insurance, and for those who do, it doesn’t cover personal belongings — only structure. Rumors swirled through the subdivision Thursday, including rumors that that the homes would all be condemned. “We’re alive,” Gilliam said. “It’s just material things, and we will rebuild.”

Water conservation pleas continued Thursday as city officials worked on getting the Donelson-area treatment plant running. Nashville’s and part of Brentwood’s water supply is coming from one downtown plant, which is purifying just enough water to meet demand, making it difficult to store reserves. Officials are worried that an unforeseen event, such as a water main break or a fire, would jeopardize the reserve supply, which would slow down water pressure in outlying areas. They’re asking residents to cut water usage in half until the Donelson plant is operational. One of the city’s sewer plants is also out of service, which means wastewater is flowing into the Cumberland River. Scott Potter, chief of Metro Water Services said the system was “completely overwhelmed” by the floods. That situation is affecting other Mayor welcomes federal aid communities — Hendersonville resiBredesen said FEMA and the dents, for example, are being asked to reduce their wastewater because the White House have been helpful. The federal government plans to be here broken Metro plant treats it. In some ways, there were small a while, with 600 or more FEMA indications that life was inching back to normal. The Cumberland River dropped below flood stage for the first time since Sunday, a day earlier than expected. The MetroCenter area, once blocked because of fears the levee would be overtaken by swelling waters, reopened to the public Thursday. Downtown streets may be reopened today if power is restored to the area. Courts reopened Public Works driver Titus Moore, left, and John Sawyers pick up and bus services trash from flood victims in North Nashville. SAMUEL M. SIMPKINS / THE resumed across the TENNESSEAN

Staff writer Christina Sanchez conrributed to this report. Contact Jaime Sarrio at 615-726-5964 or jsarrio@ tennessean.com and Michael Cass at 615259-8838 mcass@ tennessean.com.

Anderson Cooper, right, prepares for the nightly broadcast of his show on CNN in Nashville. “I’m late to cover this story,” he said. ANITA WADHWANI / THE TENNESSEAN

Anderson Cooper brings CNN show ‘late’ to Nashville Volunteerism gets attention By Anita Wadhwani THE TENNESSEAN

CNN newsman Anderson Cooper brought a team to Nashville on Thursday to give some “late” coverage to the flood. The crew was at the corner of Harpeth Bend Drive and Beech Bend Drive in Bellevue preparing for a 9 p.m. live shot outside the gutted home of BettyBelle Nicks. “He started walking up, and I said ‘I know you. I love your mother,’ ” said Nicks, who was rescued from her roof along with her husband of one week, William Nicks, whose home two doors down was also flooded. In a brief interview, Cooper said: “I can’t speak for all of national media, but I do think I’m late to cover this story,” Cooper said.

“It’s rare that you have a Gulf spill and a national terror attack at the same time ... it’s left people not sure where to go. “I don’t like to compare disasters, because I don’t want there to be a sliding scale of misery, but for this woman who has lost her house this is a terrible disaster and you have to respect that,” Cooper said. Asked if he’d seen anything different about Nashville’s disaster compared to others, the popular broadcaster said: “The thing that’s different is that I’ve never seen so many people respond so quickly to help their neighbors.” In New Orleans following Katrina, “you didn’t see this level of involvement, of churches and neighbor helping neighbor, until much later,” Cooper said. “It’s incredible to see so many people helping. It’s a great reflection on Nashville.”


FLOOD OF 2010

THE TENNESSEAN

FRIDAY, MAY 7, 2010 • 15A

ACROSS THE REGION

WILLIAMSON

Homeowners face tough choice Mack Hatcher plan may hamper rebuilding By Kevin Walters THE TENNESSEAN

FRANKLIN — Ten homes that were in the path of floodwaters this past weekend also are in the path of the proposed three-mile extension of the Mack Hatcher Parkway. The question faced now by all is: Will homeowners rebuild their homes to make them livable only to have the city come back later and tear the houses down to make way for the Mack Hatcher extension? Uniformly, officials and homeowners say they don’t want that to happen, but they have not figured out how to expedite the homes’ purchases while still following state and federal guidelines. Appraisals have been done on about half of the properties. The road extension is an estimated $90 million project that requires 10 families in the Rebel Meadows subdivision to have their houses bought by the city and either torn down or moved to make room for the roadway as it wends its way from Hillsboro Road to Highway 96 West. But all of their homes suffered extensive flood damage last weekend when the nearby Harpeth River leapt over its banks. Piles of debris lined the subdivision’s streets Friday near Hillsboro Road. Homeowners like Don Cates, who had flood insurance, says time is running short. He’s proceeding with his cleanup because he needs a place to live. “I have no choice but to (clean up and) get on with

Mark Tumblin shows where the floodwaters rose on his house in the Rebel Meadows subdivision on Rebel Circle in Franklin on Thursday. JEANNE REASONOVER / THE TENNESSEAN

my life,” Cates said. “I can’t be homeless while the city and the state and FEMA decide what they may or may not do.” State Department of Transportation Commissioner Gerald Nicely and Franklin Mayor John Schroer met to discuss the issue Thursday. Both pledged to help homeowners as quickly as they can to solve the problem. They said they are also in discussions with federal emergency officials as well.

“We’re in extraordinary circumstances here, and we need to be fair to these people,” Nicely said. “This one is a no-brainer to me.” The project has been on the books for years. Homeowners like Cates and others knew their houses were marked to be torn up but weren’t sure when. The city finally set aside $5 million to pay for design plans and buying right-of-way, and started the appraisals. Though some say enough isn’t being done, Schroer

stressed the neighborhood’s importance to him, estimating he’s had more conversations about Rebel Meadows this week than any thing else in the last, harried week. “We’re not dragging our feet. We’re moving as expeditiously as possible,” Schroer said. “I will say it is one of my highest priorities. … It’s more than on my radar, it’s there.” One possible question could arise with the question of insurance payments and how that will affect

RUTHERFORD COUNTY

appraisal amounts. Schroer does not want homeowners who had flood insurance to get insurance money on top of money they would get from an appraisal that was completed before the flooding. But he also doesn’t want homeowners who had no insurance to face a loss, either. “We don’t want anybody to be advantaged by (the flood) but we don’t want anybody to suffer from it,” Schroer said.

Homeowner Mark Tumblin said his insurance adjuster is telling him to move forward on ripping out damaged parts of the house, or risk having the house become uninhabitable. “Why would the federal government pay me money to rebuild this thing and turn right back around in a few months and pay money to tear this down?” Tumblin said. “It seems like somebody smart can add one plus one and equal two.” Contact Kevin Walters at 771-5472.

CHEATHAM COUNTY

Families struggle to get rid of trash

By Mark Bell

GANNETT TENNESSEE

Jean Hargrove is struggling to manage a miniature landfill that used to be her front lawn. Hargrove and her family, who live on Couchville Pike near Lacy’s Market in north Rutherford County, have been sorting through possessions that have been waterlogged by flash flooding since earlier in the week. Some of the possessions will, unfortunately, have to be trashed. “We were affected badly in this little community down from the market,” she said. “I’ve basically lost my house. But we don’t want anything — really we just want to get rid of this trash.” Five feet of water filled the inside of Hargrove’s home when the flooding was at its worst. Several of her neighbors also were affected. Luckily her son’s home, which sits nearby on the same street, was not affected and he has given her a place to live. Hargrove, a teacher’s aid at Smyrna Middle School, said Rutherford County Emergency Management officials assessed the damage to her home Thursday, but told her it could take a cou-

Peggy Martin and her son, Chris Wampler, try to assess the damage to their Ashland City duplex on Monday. GANNETT TENNESSEE / FILE

Helicopters fly food to Cheatham County Joe Hargrove talks about the flood damage in his home on Couchville Pike in Rutherford County. AARON THOMPSON / GANNETT TENNESSEE ple of weeks to get trash removed from her yard. As trash and debris from the historic flood piles up, Middle Point Landfill in Murfreesboro is extending its hours of operation to take it in. Complicating the cleanup efforts at Hargrove’s home is the fact that

she also houses a dog rescue. She needs someone to take about six dogs off her hands for “a couple of weeks” until she can rebuild pens damaged by flooding, she said. “All of my dogs are spayed or neutered and up to date on shots,” she said. “It’s just been hard trying to

take care of them and clean up the mess at the same time.” Hargrove does not have flood insurance and does not know if her house can be fixed. “We had a contractor come out and look and he said no,” she said. “He said it’s really bad.”

SUMNER COUNTY

Hendersonville residents asked to limit water use

By Tena Lee

HENDERSONVILLE STAR NEWS

Hendersonville residents are being asked to reduce the amount of water they use. The city’s drinking water is safe, but utility officials want to limit the wastewater flowing into the sewer system. The problem is all of the city’s wastewater is going into the Cumberland River, said Hendersonville Utility Director Tom Atchley. It would normally be pumped to a Metro Water treatment plant but that plant is flooded.

Reducing water usage in toilets, cooking, bathing and car washing will help the most, Atchley said. It’s still OK for residents to water lawns, he said. Hendersonville homes and businesses suffered flood damage during the weekend rains. Foster said earlier in the week the city’s parks have been devastated, but he said it is too soon to put a dollar amount on the damage around town. “Probably thousands of homes had some form of water damage,” Foster said. He estimated maybe 50 homes with significant floodwaters in their homes.

The city’s garbage contractor will pick up flooddamaged debris such as carpet, dry wall and even larger items such as washers and dryers. However, the company has had some “minor interruptions due to flooding and the related road closures and traffic,” Foster said. He says they’ve been told to pick up food and general garbage first, however, to maintain sanitary conditions. “Please be patient and bear with the contractor as they navigate traffic and interrupted routes over the next week,” Foster said. “We will ensure that the

trash is handled in the next week or so.” Parts of Caldwell Drive and other smaller roads throughout the city remained underwater Wednesday. The bridge at Stop 30 and Drakes Creek Road is still closed and is being assessed by a structural engineer this week, Foster said. The American Red Cross, working out of Hendersonville’s First Baptist Church, fed between 50 -60 people on Monday when the Hickory Pointe townhomes were evacuated, said volunteer Pat Scheib from Lebanon.

By Tim Adkins

GANNETT TENNESSEE

Black Hawk helicopters airlifted Meals Ready to Eat into the Cheatham County region, according to Congressman Jim Cooper’s office. Cooper planned to meet with Cheatham County leaders Thursday to get an update on the disaster response. The county is still waiting on Federal Emergency Management Agency representatives to set up in the county. Disaster assistance locations have not been determined. Because the county has been declared a federal disaster area, residents and business owners who sustained losses can begin applying for assistance immediately by registering online at www.fema.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA. Businesses affected by the flood should contact the Cheatham County Chamber of Commerce at 615792-6722 to get help. Parts of the county remain isolated since flooding closed several roads. River Road just past Sams Creek Road remains closed. Edwin Hogan, the county’s Emergency Management

Agency director, said several spots on River Road remain blocked by water. County leaders are still trying to determine how they will handle getting rid of the flood debris. Cheatham County Mayor Bill Orange said bids are being received to hire a company to assist with roadside debris removal. Residents with debris should leave it in the rightof-way, not their yards. Residents will not be charged for flood-related debris that is taken to the landfill on Sams Creek Road, Orange said. He added that permit fees likely will not be charged during the recovery period. Ashland City residents no longer have to boil their drinking water, but residents are being asked to conserve. Mayor Gary Norwood said residents are asked to reduce water use until the weekend so the city can replace one of the pumps, but the state has determined the water is safe to drink. The River Road Utility District has issued a boil alert for its customers and for the Christian Care Center of Cheatham County. There is a water break in the line, officials said.


FLOOD OF 2010

18A • FRIDAY, MAY 7, 2010

THE TENNESSEAN

HELPING OUT

Donations, drives and more ways to help Here is a sampling of community food and clothing drives and fundraising events in Middle Tennessee. For a list of more than 45 similar events, visit Tennessean.com and click on Help. To let us know about an upcoming event, e-mail Julie Dwyer with complete details at jdwyer@tennessean.com. Put “flood relief” in the subject line. ² Nashville Farmers Market is calling on volunteers to help with clean-up efforts from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today. They ask that volunteers bring water to drink, sunscreen, boots and gloves if possible. The market is at 900 Rosa L. Parks Blvd. Volunteers should report to the gate on the north end by Direct Growers and sign in with the guard. ² The Journey Church in Franklin is handing out free water. The church has had truckloads brought in and can deliver some small orders. For more information, call 791-8600. ² Donate to Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee at one of three large food and funds drives taking place Saturday: Stamp Out Hunger, the Tennessee Renaissance Festival and “Rock N Ride.” The most needed food items include canned meat, peanut butter and canned fruit. To help Stamp Out Hunger, leave a sturdy bag containing nonperishable foods next to your mailbox prior to normal pickup. At the Tennessee Renaissance Festival, nonperishable food items can be dropped off at the Second Harvest truck next to the gate. Hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Donations also will be accepted at the “Rock N Ride” biker event noon-8 p.m. at Limelight on Woodland Street.

Musicians help those hurt by flood Flood relief benefit concerts continue to crop up in the Nashville area, and we expect to hear about many more in the weeks to come. For more benefit events, visit Tennessean.com/ music. Read about restaurant relief efforts and other benefit events in today’s Life section.

Today The Infamous Stringdusters will perform two flood benefit shows at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday at the 5 Spot (1006 Forrest Ave.) in East Nashville. Proceeds will be donated to the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. Admission is $10, and the show is 21 and older. A music and comedy show at Exit/In (2208 Elliston Place) featuring comedians Christy Eidson, Rick Wey and Ryan Williams with musical guests The Jones, Nathan Thomas, Vintage Radio Gods and others will donate proceeds to Hands On Nashville, Red Cross of Middle Tennessee, The Humane Society and Davidson Animal Shelter. The show starts at 10 p.m., and admission is $10.

Larry Gatlin plays at the Red Cross shelter at Lipscomb University for people who were displaced by the flood.

JOHN PARTIPILO / THE TENNESSEAN

Saturday The End (2219 Elliston Place) will host a benefit with Spanish Candles, Powerbrrrd, Bad Cop and more. The show will start at 9 p.m., and all proceeds from the $5 cover will benefit Hands On Nashville. David Olney’s CD

release show at the Basement (1604 Eighth Ave S.) will donate a portion of its proceeds to flood relief. The show starts at 7 p.m., and the cover is $10. Donations will be collected for the Nashville Red Cross at Paradise Park (411 Broadway) Saturday night, where TurboThrust and

Mr. Belding will perform. There is no cover, and the show is 21 and over. The bands start at 10 p.m. Steely Dan tribute band Twelve Against Nature will be donating some of the proceeds from its 8 p.m. show at 3rd & Lindsley (816 Third Ave S.) to flood victims. Admission is $15.

Sunday Rocketown (522 Fifth Ave. S.) will host a 10-act bill that includes Heavy Cream and PUJOL. Admission is free, and the listing asks for donations of money or “any food, cleaning items, clothes, etc.” — STAFF REPORTS

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² Pennington Elementary (2817 Donna Hill Drive) is holding a flood drive 8 a.m.6 p.m. today and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday. Those in need can find water, food, clothing, toiletries, toys and more. Supplies are not limited to Pennington families. Monetary donations also will be accepted.

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Community meetings held throughout Nashville area

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² A community meeting will take place at 2 p.m. today at the main downtown library. U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper will be the primary speaker and will address federal assistance available to downtown merchants and residents.

FRANKLIN ² A community meeting will take place at 6 p.m. Monday at Centennial High School. Representatives from FEMA will discuss disaster relief options available to businesses and homeowners.

BELLEVUE ² A flood recovery community meeting will take place at 6 p.m. Monday at Bellevue Middle School. Please contact reporter Nate Rau at 615-259-8094 or nrau@tennessean.com for information on future community meetings.

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FLOOD OF 2010 SEVENTH DAY OF COVERAGE

SATURDAY, MAY 8, 2010 Volunteers offer money, music and muscle


S

S AT U R D AY, M AY 8, 2 0 1 0 • NA S H V I L L E

FLOOD OF 2010

Money, music & muscle NASHVILLE OPENS ITS HEART

In Metro, cost of flood $1.5B and rising

Tide of help pours in for flood victims Money and people to help flood victims are rolling in almost as fast as the water did. From the most famous rhinestone-kissed stars to the thousands of volunteers who plan to rise early this morning to get good and grimy, Tennesseans are stepping it up to help:

By Nate Rau

THE TENNESSEAN

As floodwaters receded downtown and in most other parts of Davidson County on Friday, private property damage estimates were heading in the opposite direction. Nashville Mayor Karl Dean said the cost to residential, commercial and industrial property has soared to around $1.5 billion and would continue to climb. Estimates do not include the unknown cost to rebuild roadways, sidewalks, bridges and government buildings damaged in the flooding. Dean said Friday that Metro inspectors still had about 20 percent of the Go online for city to assess. a resource Initial reports showed flood guide, along damaged 9,300 with the latland parcels and est updates, about 2,000 resphotos and idential propervideo. ties, according to information provided by Metro. “This number will only go up,” Dean said. Meanwhile, the federal disaster area approved by President Barack Obama expanded to 30 counties, more than half of the 52 counties requested by Gov. Phil Bredesen. Wilson and Robertson Counties were among those added to the list late in the afternoon. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is scheduled to visit Nashville today, with visits from other members of Obama’s Cabinet on tap for next week. “We’re trying to get absolute top-level federal attention to this,” U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Nashville, said Friday. Meanwhile, city leaders continued urging Nashville-area residents to conserve water. Metro

>> DAMAGE, 12A

■ Tennesseans are opening their hearts and wallets. Their generosity is bringing in millions of dollars in flood relief. On 14A ■ Would you like to help this weekend but don’t know how? Sure, you can just show up. But if you register with Hands on Nashville, it helps in bigger ways. On 14A ■ And the list of givers? Oh my. Two telethons and top star power are raising buckets of money. Think Reba. Taylor. Kenny. Vince and Amy. On 13A ■ You didn’t think Bud Adams, was going to stay away? The Titans owner has written a check for $200,000 and convinced the NFL and the players association to match it. On 14A

Maestro Giancarlo Guerrero and the Nashville Symphony perform at Public Square for a free concert. The Schermerhorn Symphony Center suffered severe flood damage. SHELLEY MAYS / THE TENNESSEAN

Volunteer Lori Rucker organizes goods for flood victims in North Nashville. MATT KRYGER / THE INDIANAPOLIS STAR

COMING SUNDAY READ THESE STORIES ON THE CRIPPLING FLOOD ALONG WITH THE LATEST NEWS IN SUNDAY’S TENNESSEAN Rebuilding will add money, jobs

What went wrong? Last Saturday, there were just a few scattered warnings about flooding. By Sunday night, chaos. How did so much water overwhelm the region’s flood-control machinery so quickly?

Experts say rebuilding Middle Tennessee will take years. Many will lose their homes and businesses, but at least in the short term, the disaster will bring in money and jobs.

‘I didn’t want a replay of Katrina’ Gaylord CEO Colin Reed fights to save his hotel and a big part of Nashville’s economy. Gaylord Opryland hotel lobby

SUBMITTED PHOTO

HELPING OUT Volunteers will be out in force this weekend as cleanup efforts continue.

LARRY MCCORMACK / THE TENNESSEAN

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THE TENNESSEAN

SATURDAY, MAY 8, 2010 • 11A

FLOOD OF 2010

ASSESSING THE DAMAGE

Williamson waives well fees

Officials warn water may be contaminated By Suzanne Normand Blackwood

THE TENNESSEAN

Well water quality and septic system problems could be a concern for people living in flood-affected areas. Williamson County is waiving all fees for flood victims who want to get their well water tested. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation has a cooperative agreement with the Department of Health to conduct water analyses, and the state is discussing its fees as well. “We are in the process … of coordinating with Health and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to explore the possibility of providing a fee waiver for flood victims who rely

SHELLEY MAYS / THE TENNESSEAN

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Tow trucks lost As water began covering roads in Williamson County, calls for help started coming in at Harpeth Towing & Recovery. Manager Ken Jenkins said business has been “good in some ways, but bad in other ways.” The company pulled more than 100 vehicles out of floodwaters but lost three wreckers in the process. Two drivers had to be rescued by boats, Jenkins said. In neighborhoods, cars floated blocks from homes and driveways, landing in strangers’ yards. Owners aired out vehicles, leaving windows open and the hood up to dry engines in the sun. Margaret Spencer’s car went under 5 feet of water on Illinois Avenue in West Nashville after Richland Creek overflowed. “My car’s messed up, and I lost everything else,” said Spencer, 82. “If I’d been in my house, I’d be gone too.” American Automobile Association spokeswoman Jessica Brady said people should file insurance claims as soon as possible before repairs are made. Claims could take 10 days or longer. Comprehensive coverage, which includes damage from natural disasters, should cover the loss of a car whether it was parked or being driven, Brady said. “Even it doesn’t look like your car’s been affected by the flood, you should get it checked out,” Brady said.

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The state Department of Environment and Conservation warns residents with wells to not turn on their pumps in flood conditions, as there is danger of electrical shock and damage to the pump or the well. Also, the department advises residents not to drink or wash with well water that may have been affected by floodwater. More information is available at www.tn.gov/environment/flood/ waterwells/ on well and pump inspection, cleaning your well, pumping your well, and emergency disinfection of wells that have been flooded.

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The last time Lonnie Haynes saw his car, he was clinging to a tree as he watched his Subaru Baja slip under the water with its rear end sticking up. Haynes had been on his way to help deliver a baby at Baptist Hospital and had no warning that a rush of water would trap him. He abandoned ship and clutched a tree limb for six hours until rescuers arrived. “The car dropped straight down,” said Haynes, a surgical assistant. “The car wasn’t visible. I kept thinking, ‘I am going to drown right here.’ ” On Thursday, he found his car upside down in a ditch not far from where he left it on George E Horn Road and had it towed to his backyard. The car was fully covered by insurance. Motorists who abandoned cars on highways and roads are reconnecting with them, assessing damage and checking on insurance issues. Most cars are a total loss. The Tennessee Department of Transportation coordinated with five tow companies — AB Collier Wrecker Service, Mike’s Custom Towing, West Nashville Wrecker Service, Cotton’s Towing and Chapman’s Wrecker Service — to pick up cars along the highways. About 180 were picked up off Interstate 24. Vehicles towed from the interstate went to private wrecker lots because the Metro Police Department lot was underwater, spokesman Don Aaron said. AB Collier picked up 26 cars from area highways for TDOT, employee Cathy Cheeves said. Each wrecker service has a list of vehicles, so when an owner calls it

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THE TENNESSEAN

can provide information about a car’s location. Car owners also can call the community hot line at 615862-8574 or contact TDOT. “None of them are drivable; they are saturated in mud and water,” Cheeves said of the vehicles.

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Cotton’s Towing dispatcher Justin Brown shows a car that was submerged by floodwaters on Interstate 24.

Flooded vehicles mostly total loss

or fishing for a while. Additionally, floodwaters can contaminate drinking water and damage well pumps.

on well water and who wish to have their wells tested,” said Tisha Calabrese-Benton, communications director for the TDEC. After floods, waterborne illnesses caused by bacteria, viruses, or other toxins or chemicals can be contracted by ingesting or simply having physical contact with the water. “Parents should take extra precaution by keeping children and teens out of potentially contaminated floodwaters,” state Commissioner of Health Susan Cooper said in a news release. Calabrese-Benton said there is no particular standard for determining when lakes and rivers will be safe for recreational purposes other than, “They have to be below flood stage.” If a sewage treatment plant near a river or stream has suffered damage, this might be an indication that the water may not be safe for swimming

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FLOOD OF 2010

12A • SATURDAY, MAY 8, 2010

THE TENNESSEAN

Gaylord deflates damage speculation CEO estimates $50M to $100M

By Bonna Johnson THE TENNESSEAN

Gaylord CEO Colin Reed expects Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center to reopen in the fall. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Over the next two weeks, Gaylord officials expect to have a damage estimate, long-term plan for their employees and a better sense of how long it will take to reopen the flooded Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center. Damages could be $50 million or $100 million, said

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Colin Reed, CEO and chairman of Gaylord Entertainment, but not anywhere near the $300 million to $400 million that has been speculated. The company has a $50 million flood insurance policy for the hotel. “The most heartbreaking thing is you walk through the buildings and feel like the soul has been taken out of them,” said David Kloeppel, Gaylord president and chief operating officer, during a news conference outside the hotel on Friday. Reed said he has assured investors that the damage and repairs to get up and running won’t drag into 2011. “We will be up and functioning by the end of the year,” Reed said. Reopening could occur anywhere from August to November. For at least the next two weeks, however, the hotel company won’t take reservations for any stays or conventions through the end of October. Here are some other key updates about the property:

² Of 4 million square feet of space in the hotel, about 800,000 square feet flooded, including 65,000 square feet of exhibit halls and loading areas; 41,000 square feet of carpeted meeting rooms; and 210,000 square feet in the hotel’s garden-filled atriums. ² Only 117 guest rooms of nearly 2,900 in the vast resort got flooded, all in the property’s Delta area. ² The resort’s 4,000 employees will receive full pay and benefits for at least six weeks. “What we don’t want is to see our folks migrate off and go to work elsewhere,” Reed said. They could also be a part of some cleanup operations and other preparations to reopen. ² The WSM broadcast station was damaged and has temporarily relocated in a small studio in Brentwood. Two feet of water washed over the stage of the Grand Ole Opry, leaving a film of mud. Contact Bonna Johnson at 615-7265990 or bjohnson@tennessean.com.

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Water Department Director Scott Potter said reserves had risen slightly, to 56 percent. Potter said the Nashville area’s water situation would remain a serious concern until the K.R. Harrington water treatment plant, which suffered extensive flood damage last weekend, was back up and running. No time frame has been given for when to expect repairs to be complete. Normal reserve levels are about 60 percent when both of Metro’s treatment plants are functioning. “I just need everyone not to get comfortable,” Potter said. “I think people may be feeling like the crisis has passed. It has not. For me, the crisis will not pass until that plant is online and operating (normally).” The immediate focus of Metro was to get the city functioning as close to normally as possible. ² Crews continued to clear debris in the hardesthit areas of Davidson County and reinforcements from the private sector were on track to begin helping. Metro had contracts out with private companies in order to provide an extra 100 cleanup crews. ² Metro school bus drivers completed a test run Friday, which went well. Officials said an announcement about when students would return to school would come as soon as today. ² Metro Transit Authority buses continued running routes to most parts of the county. MTA Director Paul Ballard said fares will be waived until service returned to full capacity. ² Nashville Electric Service crews were working to restore power throughout

the county. As of Friday, there were approximately 3,000 customers without service. NES President and CEO Decosta Jenkins said progress was being made to return power to the Demonbreun Street substation, which was seriously damaged by flooding. NES was able to provide power to the AT&T building, the US Bank Building, the downtown Hilton and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, which has reopened.

2 people missing Although rescue efforts have already come to an end, the Office of Emergency Management continued searching for two men who had been reported missing. Additionally, members of the Nashville police and fire departments continued going door to door in hard-hit areas of the county to check for additional missing persons. Metro police urged residents to be on guard against looting, price gouging and flood-related scams. So far, police have arrested seven people on looting charges. Outgoing Metro Police Chief Ronal Serpas said there were also reports of price gouging, specifically by unnamed wrecker services, which were storing cars that had been towed as a result of the flood. Serpas urged companies to waive storage fees, which the West Nashville Wrecker Service has already done. At a downtown community meeting on Friday, the state attorney general’s office advised residents to be aware of possible scams run by individuals offering to provide cleanup services. Nate Rau can be reached at 615259-8094 or nrau@tennessean.com.


FLOOD OF 2010

THE TENNESSEAN

SATURDAY, MAY 8, 2010 • 13A

NASHVILLE’S MUSIC CULTURE

Music City stars set pace in flood relief By Cindy Watts and Nicole Keiper

THE TENNESSEAN

WSM-AM’s Charlie Mattos broadcasts from the old tower studio in Brentwood after the station was displaced from its Opryland Hotel studio because of the flood. JEANNE REASONOVER / THE TENNESSEAN

Heck or high water can’t knock WSM off the air If WSM-AM 650 had been broadcasting when the Titanic ran into that chilly little problem, the story might well have come out differently. Accurate timing of what was going down would have been announced. Folks would have known where to catch a lifeboat. And everybody would have heard the band play on. Neither rain, nor flood, nor dark of night kept the 50,000 watts of clear channel from staying on the air when the Cumberland River checked into the Gaylord Opryland Hotel, home of WSM’s studio. “We just disconnected everything we could, loaded it up in a bellman’s cart and wheeled it through the Magnolia Lobby,” said Joe Limardi, operations manager. Radio deejays and engineers stayed in the hotel until the wee hours Monday morning, hoping they would not have to evacuate. When they got the call to scoot, employees quickly drove to the antique WSM studio under the big diamond-shaped tower off of Concord Road in Brentwood. “It was like an Apollo 13 mission here,” said Chris Kulick, general manager. It took WSM-AM 42 minutes flat to switch and broadcast from the tower. The retro expe-

>> GAIL KERR rience will last until the hotel reopens for business. Those who are part of it have a noticeable swagger. Except for engineer Jason Cooper, who looks just south of shell-shocked. When all around pointed to him as the mastermind, the best he could muster was “Ah, thanks. Thank you.” The WSM staff does not have all the gizmos they are used to. Yet they continue to do what no one else does any more: Broadcast traditional and Americana country music, laced with real news and sports. In a disaster such as the 2010 floods, those 50,000 watts can be heard for hundreds of miles when the Internet, land and cellular phone lines are not working. WSM was created by the National Life and Accident Insurance Co., to broadcast the Grand Ole Opry. WSM’s call letters stand for “We Shield Millions.”

It went on the air in October 1925. In 1932, the station moved to the white concrete building in what was then rural Brentwood, under the 878-foot tower. It was, at the time, the tallest radio tower in the United States. “Welcome to the bunker,” Limardi said. A grand tour of the surprisingly roomy building includes a coal-burning boiler used to distill water to cool the tower in the 1930s, secret World War II equipment that would have allowed the tower to guide submarines, old photos and mementos — including a 1950s Valentine’s Day card — left by former employees. Hand-written logbooks, starting in 1932, document everything ever done to or in the tower studio. Downstairs is a still-working machine shop, built because, “They couldn’t go to Home Depot in 1932,” Kulick said. The employee break room is next door and has a General Electric refrigerator older than anyone working in the makeshift studio. Like WSM-AM, it still works great. Gail Kerr’s column runs on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. She can be reached at 615-259-8085 or gkerr@ tennessean.com.

As Nashville shifts to cleanup mode after this week’s historic floods, many of Music City’s stars are funneling their energy toward relief efforts. Thursday night’s “Working 4 You: Flood Relief with Vince Gill & Friends” telethon on WSMV-TV showed a crew of major country stars, including Gill, wife Amy Grant, Keith Urban and Alison Krauss, sharing their time, music and money. Gill and Grant donated $100,000 to flood relief, and during the event, country-pop megastar Taylor Swift announced a $500,000 donation to various charities. Urban, who with wife Nicole Kidman has donated an undisclosed amount to multiple flood-related charities, performed and logged time at the phone bank. The telethon raised approximately $1.7 million by the end of the evening. “It was so heartbreaking for me to see that (devastation) in my town, the place that I call home and the place that I feel most safe,” Swift said during a call in to the telethon. “I just send my love to my friends and neighbors who got hit harder than I did.” Thursday’s event was an early and visible entry in a benefit effort from Music City’s musicians that only continues to grow as the city works to bounce back. Nashville’s ABC affiliate WKRN kicked off a three-day telethon Wednesday with Amy Grant, Melinda Doolittle, Young Buck and others donating time, and at press time, about $500,000 had been raised, with one show still left to do. A Thursday show at clothing shop Imogene + Willie with Michelle Branch and Holly Williams raised about $20,000. Wednesday’s “Rebuild This City (On Rock and Roll)” show at the Mercy Lounge, which included local rock bands Paper Route and How I Became the Bomb, raised more than $11,000. And many musicians who haven’t taken a benefit stage yet are still taking up for Tennessee. Rock success Jack White told the Associated Press Friday that profits from Saturday’s sales at his Third Man Records store downtown will go to flood relief. He and his Third Man employees have also pledged to join Hands On Nashville on Monday to donate time toward cleanup efforts. Eric Church delivered supplies to a local animal shelter and to several hard-hit areas around Nashville.

Holly Williams spent several days volunteering in various neighborhoods to help with the clean-up process. Country star Reba McEntire, who returned to Nashville Sunday afternoon after a weekend tour, donated $100,000 to the Red Cross for flood victims. “I never know what’s the best thing to do when things like this happen, so I let my heart guide me,” McEntire said. “The Red Cross knows where the help is needed and how to get it to the people who need it the most.” Other stars have used their platform to help draw awareness. Kenny Chesney showed CNN host Anderson Cooper footage of his flooded home on Wednesday, and Cooper’s AC360° show came to Nashville Thursday to show the damage firsthand, the host touring the area alongside country stars Brad Paisley, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. John Rich and George Jones appeared on FOX News Thursday, and Larry Gatlin, who also participated in the WSMV-TV telethon, appeared on CNN’s Larry King Live to put a face to Nashville’s flood relief effort. “My house didn’t get flooded out, and the ones who didn’t are supposed to get their butts over there and help the ones that did,” Gatlin said. “Thank God, the water is down. Thank God, the people are not down. We are rocking and rolling. Well, we’re country and westerning.”

More fundraisers Some big musical fundraising events are yet to come. The Country Music Association announced Thursday that 50 percent of the proceeds from June’s CMA Music Festival will go to flood relief. (The other half goes each year to aid public school music education.) Country music network GAC will air a telethon to benefit flood victims on May 16, with stars including Paisley, Lady Antebellum, Dierks Bentley and Rodney Atkins performing live from the Ryman Auditorium. Marty Stuart announced Friday that proceeds from his 9th annual Late Night Jam, slated for June 9 at the Ryman, will go to benefit MusiCares Nashville Flood Relief. Breakout pop star Ke$ha will also host a flood benefit at Limelight Nashville on June 16. Reach Cindy Watts at 615-594-3027 or ciwatts@tennessean.com.

Keith Urban and Vince Gill perform on Thursday night’s telethon for flood victims. COURTESY WSMV

Opry House, circle intact, looks to reopening By Peter Cooper THE TENNESSEAN

Country music’s most famous circle is unbroken. Cut from the Ryman Auditorium stage and inserted into the Grand Ole Opry House stage as a nod to tradition and history, the 6-foot circle of oak was under 2 feet of water during the flood of 2010. The rest of the waterlogged Opry stage probably will be trashed. But the circle, where Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Roy Acuff, Patsy Cline and other greats stood and sang, is irreplaceable. “It is in remarkably good condition,” Grand Ole Opry Group President Steve Buchanan said. “We will ultimately need to replace the stage, but we do that every few years. But the circle will be saved, and it will be center stage when we open back up.” Buchanan declined to specify other individual Opry House items that made it through the storms. He and others are still searching through the rubble. The

water is gone from the auditorium looked like what may be seen in a and the backstage area, though typical American high school, only noxious filth remains. It should the lockers often held rhinestone take three to four weeks to clean stage wear and iconic guitars. “We were very happy with the the mud off, and then the assessing amount of stuff that got saved,” and repairing damage will begin. “The destruction is said Colin Reed, CEO of the Opry’s parent company, Gaylord on a grand scale,” Entertainment, before Buchanan said. “And mentioning some items this is a building we that did sustain water have a loving and emodamage. tional attachment to. “There were instruThere’ve been moments ments. Jimmy Dickens of significant emotion had a few of his suits. … every day. It’s hard for We hope they haven’t everyone here because shrunk.” they care so much. The Steve Reed’s Dickens compeople that work here Buchanan: ment, at a midday news consider this to be a “The destrucconference, drew nervvery special place. We tion is on a ous laughter. “If we didn’t will not feel a sense of make light of it, we would relief until we have grand scale.” be in perpetual tears,” he completed this entire process, until we have gone said. On May 2, with the Cumberland through and hopefully been able rising, Buchanan and others to restore or rebuild.” Thursday, workers removed worked at the Opry House, movitems from hallway lockers that ing items of value to higher elevahad been flooded. Before the tions. They saved archival photos flood, the backstage hallways and tapes, and many items at the

Grand Ole Opry Museum. They stopped about 10 p.m., after water breached the levee. Less than 12 hours later, water covered all but the auditorium’s top four rows and spread through the building. Eyelevel photographs on the wall were high enough to escape harm. Below that, things look rough. “It’s a profound loss,” said Opry member Marty Stuart. “The good news is that the House can be replaced. But there were treasures in there, and some of them cannot be replaced. In my dressing room, there was a tapestry on the wall that was made from what was to be Porter Wagoner’s last suit. It was made for him, and he died before he could wear it. I don’t know if that tapestry made it.” “It breaks your heart,” Buchanan said. “But it’s our responsibility to be sure that the building comes back to life. And it will.” Buchanan and Reed expect that the Grand Ole Opry House will reopen well before the Opryland Hotel, and that both will be open

for business by the end of the year. “Already, we’re starting to see the effects of being able to get in and clean up, and we’re realizing that, clearly, we can get this done,” Buchanan said. The Opry show will bounce between venues until its permanent home is patched and polished. Members will grin and bear the traveling: On his Twitter page Thursday, Brad Paisley posted a message: “Can’t wait to play the Opry tomorrow night. Feels about as important to me as the very first time I ever played it, somehow.” For others, the joy will come when the Opry House reopens. “The history and legacy of that circle is awe-inspiring.” recording artist Blake Shelton said. The flood will extend that history, not destroy it. The circle has now withstood the stomp of Johnny Cash’s boots, the click of Tammy Wynette’s high heels, decades of stage light burn and a prolonged Cumberland dunk. Reach Peter Cooper at 615-259-8220 or pcooper@tennessean.com.


FLOOD OF 2010

14A • SATURDAY, MAY 8, 2010

THE TENNESSEAN

HELPING OUT

Disaster’s ordeal inspires donations

Need will last months, relief organizations say By Chas Sisk

THE TENNESSEAN

Tennesseans are opening their wallets to help pay for flood relief and recovery. The American Red Cross says it has received $3 million from Tennesseans for its Disaster Relief Fund since last weekend’s flood, and other area charities say they have received an unprecedented influx of donations. “People really are giving to their community,” said Mitch Tucker, a Red Cross spokesman. More than $1.8 million has been pledged by local corporations. Among the biggest gifts have been pledges of $500,000 from HCA and First Tennessee Bank. Nissan North America has pledged $300,000, and AT&T Tennessee has promised $255,000. Country star Vince Gill hosted a telethon for flood relief that raised $1.7 million. Taylor Swift gave $500,000. The Country Music Association said it will donate half of the net proceeds from this summer’s CMA Music Festival, a sum estimated at $1 million. Countless more has come in the form of small gifts from individual donors, not all of it cash. Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee received and distributed enough food to provide 70,000 meals in the first three days after the flood. But charities say the need will continue for months to come. Nearly 2,000 residential properties have been damaged by the flood, leaving thousands displaced. “It’s similar to (Hurricane) Katrina because the recovery is going to take a long time,” said Jaynee Day, president and chief executive of Second Harvest. “Many folks will move in with other people, and then that family will say they can’t feed them and themselves. That’s when they’ll come to us.” Metro officials are steering donations to an umbrella fund set up by the Community Foundation. The Metro Nashville Disaster Response Fund will make grants to nonprofit organizations working on flood relief and recovery. “Money donated to the fund will be distributed through local nonprofits to directly benefit families and businesses that have been impacted by the flood,” Mayor Karl Dean said. The United Way of Metropolitan Nashville is also opening its Restore the Dream Fund for flood relief. It will also make donations to organizations involved in the recovery. “This will provide the infrastructure so we rebuild the community,” said Phil Martin, a United Way spokesman. “We wanted to try to put that in place so we can begin while the momentum is high.”

WAYS TO DONATE AMERICAN RED CROSS Meals, shelter and longtime relief Online: www.middletennredcross.org By mail: Nashville Area Red Cross, 2201 Charlotte Ave., Nashville, TN 37203 By phone: 615-250-4300 By text: Text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

SECOND HARVEST FOOD BANK OF MIDDLE TENNESSEE Provides food and nonfood items Online: www.secondharvestmidtn.org By mail: Second Harvest, 331 Great Circle Road, Nashville, TN 37228 By phone: 615-329-3491

UNITED WAY RESTORE THE DREAM FUND Makes grants to nonprofits in the Nashville area for relief and recovery Online: www.unitedwaynashville.org By mail: United Way Restore the Dream Fund, 250 Venture Circle, Nashville, TN 37228 By phone: 615-255-8501 By text: Text RESTORE to 864833 to make a $10 donation.

METRO NASHVILLE DISASTER RESPONSE FUND Makes grants for flood relief and recovery in Davidson County Online: www.cfmt.org By mail: Metro Nashville Disaster Response Fund, P.O. Box 440225, Nashville, TN 37244

TENNESSEE EMERGENCY RESPONSE FUND Makes grants for flood relief and recovery outside of Davidson County Online: www.cfmt.org

LifePoint Hospitals volunteers Melissa Smith, left, Melody Rose and Alexandria Holloway work with Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers preparing meals for flood victims at Judson Baptist in Nashville. MANDY LUNN / THE TENNESSEAN

Volunteers go full tilt Groups, individuals expected to fan out as effort intensifies

By Nate Rau and Bob Smietana THE TENNESSEAN

Franklin also will send out volunteers at 9 a.m. from its campus at 828 Murfreesboro Pike. Volunteers are asked to dress in long pants and wear work boots, and bring hand tools such as hammers and crowbars, as well as gloves and masks. That request is echoed by other churches. There also are opportunities to help in other communities. A communitywide cleanup is planned in the Kingston Springs/Pegram area in Cheatham County. Volunteers are meeting at 7:30 a.m. at the Red Tree Coffeehouse on Main Street in Kingston Springs. Volunteers are asked to bring gloves, boots and cleaning supplies.

arise, but the response is so strong that many time slots fill up nearly immediately on the Hands on Nashville website, www.hon.org. “If you don’t get the slot you want, keep checking as we continue to put projects up,” said Lisa Davis, external affairs director for Hands on Nashville.

Hundreds of volunteers are expected to fan out across Nashville and Middle Tennessee today to help flood-weary Teams are being organized residents. Churches and other groups The gloved good Samaritans will be armed with bottles of also are calling for volunteers. Cross Point Church in Nashwater, boxes of food, shovels, saws, brooms and buckets, and ville is hoping for as many as just about anything they can use 2,000 volunteers today to join to push ahead with the enor- work crews in Bellevue, mous task of getting Nashville Kingston Springs, Pegram, Old Hickory and West Nashville. back on its feet. Volunteers are asked to Although city leaders encouraged volunteers to offer arrive at 9 a.m. at the church’s their services wherever needed, Nashville campus, 4301 Charthere is an important benefit to lotte Ave., and its Bellevue camvolunteering through Hands on pus, 7669 Highway 70 S. “If you’ve got two Nashville, the nonhands and two feet, profit group that is FAITH & you can help,” said organizing volun- VALUES the Rev. Ryan Bult, teer efforts for the Metro government. See how churches director of ministries at Cross Point The Federal are offering assisChurch in Nashville. Emergency Man- tance. On 3B Volunteers will be agement Agency split into groups, will reimburse Metro for all of the volunteer each led by a Cross Point team hours documented through leader. Most of the work is grunt Hands on Nashville. Some churches and other groups are labor, said Bult, and may documenting their hours and include tearing out drywall or turning them into Hands on flooring, and also carrying Nashville to be included in the debris and putting it into Dumpsters. overall tally. The church has sent out “We’re not trying to control volunteer efforts by people who about 800 volunteers in the past just want to go out and do it,” week. The church has a strong Mayor Karl Dean said. “But any group or individual that can social media network, recruitregister with Hands on Nash- ing volunteers through Twitter, ville, that is clearly in the best Facebook and e-mail. Cross Point volunteers have interest of the city right now. “What is making this city worked on about 100 homes unique and allowing us to get and have had 500 requests for through this the way we are has volunteer assistance. People who need help with been the people of the city,” he cleanup can call the church at said. or e-mail According to Hands on 615-298-4422 Nashville leaders, 4,000 volun- info@crosspoint.tv. The church also has partteers had given their time at 148 projects through Friday. nered with Hands on Nashville, That number was expected to which has sent them dozens of rise today when people have volunteers. The Rev. Pete Wilson, the time off from work to help. The organization is posting pastor of Cross Point, the Rev. volunteer opportunities as they Rice Broocks of Bethel World

Kids chip in ideas, too Cedrick “Sheriff” Cusic has been manning the grill, cooking hamburgers and hot dogs since Tuesday for flood victims and their families. Outreach Center and Ed Stezer, interim pastor of Two Rivers Baptist Church, have a combined 100,000 Twitter followers. Earlier this week they did a live web video broadcast, which brought in offers of donations and volunteer help. Some Twitter followers of Wilson’s, from a nonprofit called I am Active, based in Jacksonville, Fla., drove through the night to get to Nashville. Two Rivers also will hold a volunteer workday today, with help from Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian nonprofit. Members of the public are invited to join in the work. Some volunteers will be handing out water. The church brought in two tractor-trailer loads of supplies to flood victims. Samaritan’s Purse also will train volunteers how to mudout flood-damaged homes. Training will start at 7 a.m., and after the training, groups will go out into the community, supervised by Samaritan’s Purse. The People’s Church in

Some people have set up their own impromptu volunteer operations. Tricia Drake of Nashville was talking to her children on Thursday about how they could help flood victims, when the kids suggested they take peanut butter sandwiches to people who were cleaning up flood damage. That put an idea in her head. “What if we throw the grill into Momma’s car and go out and cook hot dogs,” she told the kids. Drake and her seven kids, along with her husband, picked up hot dogs, cookies and water and headed to Bellevue. Things went so well that Drake was out again on Friday, this time in the Bordeaux neighborhood, near Tucker Road and West Hamilton. “We pitched our tent, turned on the grill and got busy cooking,” she said. Before Thursday, Drake said she felt overwhelmed by the reports of the flood damage, not knowing what she could do. “I can’t be helping everywhere, but at least I can help somewhere,” Drake said. “And helping somewhere is better than sitting on the couch.” Contact Nate Rau at 615-259-8094 or nrau@tennessean.com. Contact Bob Smietana at 615-259-8228 or bsmietana@tennessean.com.

Titans, NFL, union raise $400,000 for relief Adams said. “I have unfortunately lived through many devastating hurricanes and know Titans owner Bud Adams is first-hand the damage that giving $200,000 from the flooding can cause. I know the needs are great in Titans Foundation to the region and I help flood victims in hope that this contriTennessee and has bution will help in recruited the National some way. I would Football League and encourage our fans NFL’s Players Associato do what they can tion to match the in terms of donating amount. time or resources to The $400,000 will be the cause of recovdivided among the Bud Adams ery. I also want to Metro Nashville Disasthank NFL Commister Relief Fund, Tenn- leads fundsioner Roger Goodessee Emergency Relief raising effort. ell and DeMaurice Fund and the American Smith, who heads up the Red Cross. “Our team and the Middle NFLPA, for their matching dolTennessee community have a lars.” Mayor Karl Dean said the gift very strong bond and we have been there in times of need and is much appreciated. “The Tennessee Titans have tragedy as an organization,” By Jim Wyatt

THE TENNESSEAN

long been an integral part of the Nashville community, embraced by our residents for exactly this openness of spirit as much as for athletic skill,” Dean said. “I am grateful to Bud Adams, the NFL, and the NFL Players Association for this tremendous act of generosity.”

Players to help clean up In the coming week, Titans players and staff will be going out into the community to help with the recovery efforts. “This is a two-pronged approach,’’ Adams said. “We understand that the money and aid will help many people in the long term, but sending our players and staff to help clean up will help people immediately.’’

Through his foundation’s partnership with Reebok, quarterback Vince Young is also raising money for flood victims. “Nashville has taken a beating from Mother Nature and the damage is unbelievable,’’ Young said in a statement. “We will be rebuilt stronger than before, so will our efforts to take care of those most affected in our community.’’ Young is asking fans to make a donation of $100, and in turn they’ll receive a personally autographed Pro Bowl photo of Young and a “Flood ’10 Reebuild” T-shirt. Checks can be made payable to: The Vincent Young Foundation/Flood ’10, 2020 Fieldstone Parkway Suite 900-120, Franklin, TN 37069. Credit card payments can be made at thevincentyoungfoundation.org.


FLOOD OF 2010

THE TENNESSEAN

SATURDAY, MAY 8, 2010 • 15A

>> JOE BIDDLE

Rising water can’t erode love of game

Jimmy Burch, left, and son James have been cutting out sections of drywall above the waterline in their home on Shacklett Lane Court in Antioch. “Open the windows and let everything air out. What else can you do?” Burch said. PHOTOS BY LARRY MCCORMACK / THE TENNESSEAN

As people move back in, hidden dangers lurk he isn’t about to sleep inside. “My daughter got sick the day of the flood,” Smith said. Jimmy Burch and his family “There’s mold in here.” Officials worry that some took refuge on the second floor of their two-story Antioch home people may cut corners with the as the water poured in down- cleanup process and suffer stairs. A waterline 4 feet high on health problems later. “We’re very early in this the wall tells the story of his showdown with the punishing recovery process,” said Andrea Turner, spokeswoman for the flood. When the water finally Tennessee Department of Health. “Some peodropped, Burch got ple haven’t even busy on his waterhad the chance to logged home. get back into their “I’ve totally homes to assess the Cloroxed this place damage. What we at least three times,” see is a potential for he said as fans problems if people whirred in the backaren’t heeding ground. A slight, the recommendamusty smell hung in the air. JIMMY BURCH, tions.” The U.S. Centers According to state whose Antioch for Disease Control and local health offiPrevention cials, Burch was home was flooded and recommends the doing it exactly right. To combat the growth of following for homeowners mold, they’re telling residents returning to flooded homes: ² Before first re-entering with flooded homes to clear out water, open all windows and your home, let it air out for at doors, run fans, and tear out just least 30 minutes. ² Wear rubber gloves and about anything that holds water, particularly carpets and furni- N95 respirator masks to protect ture. They also should remove from air contaminants. ² Dry out your home by wet drywall. Flood restoration companies opening windows and doors warn that living in flood-dam- and running fans and dehumidiaged homes without significant fiers. ² Wipe down surfaces with cleaning can lead to health problems, particularly because of the warm water and dish soap or contents of the floodwaters and laundry detergent. ² Disinfect non-moldy surthe potential for mold. “The rising water has filled faces that came in contact with the houses anywhere from 2 feet floodwaters with a combination of water to all the way to the of one cup of bleach to every ceiling,” said Michael Moscone, 5 gallons of water. ² Disinfect moldy surfaces owner of Nashville-based Drying Specialists. “You have with one cup of bleach to every pathogens, you have microbial gallon of water. issues, because it’s tainted.” Eric Smith, 40, lives across Mobile homes not planned from Burch and isn’t taking any It isn’t clear how many Nashchances. Smith said he has been sleeping in his truck every night ville residents might be staying their water-soaked in front of his Shacklett Lane in Court home. He wants to be homes, ripe for mold growth. there to protect his property, but But officials say the homes By Brian Haas

THE TENNESSEAN

“I’ve totally Cloroxed this place at least three times.”

The front yard of Cecile James’ home on Antioch Pike is covered with waterlogged items from inside her home, which also was her business. James isn’t sure what to do next, but she knows she won’t be returning to this home. remain stable. “The structures are still basically intact, the majority of them,” said Byron Hall, building inspection chief for the Department of Codes and Building Safety. At this point, there are no plans for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to bring in mobile homes like the ones that often dot the landscape in coastal communities

after a hurricane. “We work closely with the state as they identify the best means to support the needs of their residents,’’ said Brad Carroll, FEMA spokesman. “Our goal is to keep individuals in their communities, and in those efforts, typically the primary means of support for those who have been displaced is to make use of available rental units in the area.’’

As the relentless rain pounded Nashville on Saturday morning, the water began to rise outside Clinton Arnold’s Antioch home. A single father, Arnold is raising his 11-year-old son, Ishmael, and 13-yearold daughter, Toni. His mother has lived next door for 60 years. “We were watching the water and reminiscing about floods of the past. The big one was 1979, where the water got up to the third step on my mother’s house,” Arnold said. “In a matter of minutes, stuff was floating around in our house.” Seeing the speed with which the water was rushing in, Arnold knew it was time to evacuate. He told the children to get only necessities. He then convinced his mother they had to leave virtually everything behind. With water lapping at his loaded SUV, they were ready to pull away when Ishmael told his dad he had to go back in the house. “He had left his (baseball) bat bag behind and went back to get it,” Clinton said. The water was rising rapidly, the current picking up speed when Ishmael came out of the house. Even though he struggled, Ishmael held his bat bag high over his head. “He looked like John Wayne in one of those D-Day invasion movies, where the soldiers had to hold their rifles over their heads to keep them dry,” Clinton said. Ishmael is one of 1,300 kids served by the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities program. He is a pitcher for the Yankees and was on the Seven Oaks Park mound Thursday night. “It was a wonderful escape for him,” Clinton said of Ishmael. “He was bouncing around all day. He didn’t want it to end.” Former Lipscomb and minor league player Reggie Whittemore started the RBI program, which is supported by Major League Baseball in hopes of generating interest in the sport among minority youth, especially African-Americans. “RBI has been a good fit for (Clinton’s) son,” Whittemore said. “You talk about African-American kids not playing baseball these days, yet here is a kid who was up to his neck in water and he goes back to pick up his bag with his bats and glove in it. That says something.” Clinton Arnold says his and his mother’s houses are not inhabitable. The family is staying in East Nashville with Arnold’s boss at Entertainment Compliance, Sam Mitchell. Volunteers are working to save what they can of the Arnolds’ houses. “There were 30 to 40 people from Lighthouse Baptist Church who came out of nowhere,” Arnold said. “Some people wear those (What Would Jesus Do) bracelets and go to church on Sunday. But these people walk the walk. They are still working out there.” Arnold plans to rebuild, even though he had no flood insurance and the future is uncertain. “We are just taking it day by day, hour by hour.” While the single parent works two jobs to make ends meet, he realizes the importance for Ishmael to continue playing baseball. “There were a lot of other things he could have grabbed,” Arnold said. “He went back for his baseball stuff.” Joe Biddle’s column appears Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Reach him at 615-2598255 or jbiddle@tennessean.com.

Search for missing rafter continues

Big Brothers, baseball nonprofit assist victims

As the search continued Friday for Dan Brown, his father, Roger Brown of Iowa, helps check the area of Massman Road, off Elm Hill Pike along Mill Creek. Dan Brown, 18, went missing Sunday while rafting on the rain-swollen creek. LARRY MCCORMACK /

Big Brothers of Nashville has partnered with Nashville RBI to help families who have been affected by the recent flooding. RBI is a nonprofit program providing baseball and softball to 1,300 inner-city youths. It suffered substantial loss of equipment and uniforms as a result of the flood. It also lost a lawn mower and a concession stand refrigerator. Total losses are estimated at $5,000. “It is critical that we keep our program running and allow our kids affected by the flood a way to experience some normalcy during this difficult time,’’ said Nashville RBI Executive Director Reggie Whittemore. Donations can be made to Nashville RBI, P.O. Box 112036, or visit givingmatters.com and search Nashville RBI to donate via credit card. To donate to RBI families through Big Brothers of Nashville, make checks payable to RBI Account — Big Brothers of Nashville. They can be delivered to any Regions Bank in the area. If you want to donate equipment, call Whittemore at 615-642-2839.

THE TENNESSEAN

— JOE BIDDLE


FLOOD OF 2010

THE TENNESSEAN

SATURDAY, MAY 8, 2010 • 17A

HELPING OUT

Donations, drives and more ways to help Here is a sampling of community food and clothing drives and fundraising events in Middle Tennessee. For a list of more than 75 similar events, visit Tennessean.com and click on Help. To let us know about an upcoming event, e-mail Julie Dwyer with complete details at jdwyer@tennessean.com. Put “flood relief” in the subject line. ² The Community Resource Center, whose warehouse was flooded, has set up shop at A+ Storage at 911 Division St. The center needs household merchandise, including cleaning supplies and personal hygiene products; diapers; baby wipes; new clothing and shoes; new bedding; and more. The CRC has partnered with Hands on Nashville to distribute these much-needed items. For more information, e-mail betsycrc@comcast.net or visit www.crcnashville.org. ² From 3 to 7 p.m. Monday, staff and volunteers from Soles4Souls will be at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds providing

free shoes to anyone in need. On Tuesday, the fairgrounds will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. On both days, the distribution will be held under the Show Arena Pavilion and will feature men’s, women’s and children’s shoes. ² The YMCA Fun Company program will offer its available spaces free for the remainder of the school year in Davidson County to children who were affected by the flood. A full list of Fun Company sites in Davidson County can be found at www.ymcafunco.org. Call Cynthia Gale at 615-259-3418, ext. 72511, for enrollment information. ² A Tide Loads of Hope truck is coming to Nashville on Wednesday to offer clean clothes to flood victims and relief workers. The truck carries more than 30 washers and dryers, and the folks from Tide will wash, dry and fold each load of clothes (a maximum of two loads accepted per person per day). They’re even bringing their own water. The mobile laundry station will be at

Dollar General at 2403 Lebanon Pike. Services will be available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through May 19. Visit www. tideloadsofhope.com. ² Cool Springs Brewery at 600A Frazier Drive in Franklin is having a fundraising event Friday to benefit the family of Joshua Landtroop, a 21-year-old father of two young boys who died in the flood. The brewery will donate $2 to the family for every pint of its beer sold throughout the day. Call 615-503-9626 or visit www.coolspringsbrewery.com. ² Members of the Nashville Prince Hall Masonic District are preparing meals and distributing water at the St. Paul A.M.E. Church, 3340 West Hamilton Ave., to residents in the West Hamilton neighborhood. Residents can assist by dropping off food, such as uncooked hamburgers, hot dogs, buns or chicken; bottled water; or clothing for those in need. ² Beautiful Hendersonville Inc. will hold Hands on Henderson-

Receding floodwater stranded this fish and left it to die at the intersection of Oldham and North First streets near LP Field.

MATT KRYGER / THE INDIANAPOLIS STAR

donate a portion of Mother’s Day weekend sales to the Bellevue Exchange Club Foundation, a program set up by the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce to aid flood victims in Bellevue. Moore and Moore Garden Center is at 8216 Highway 100. For more information, call 615-662-8849.

ville Day on May 15. Volunteers should meet at 8 a.m. at City Hall at 101 Maple Drive N. Groups will focus on parks cleanup and other areas affected by the flood. Bring work gloves and water boots. ² Today and Sunday, Moore and Moore Garden Center on Highway 100 in Bellevue will

CLEANING UP After a flood, cleaning up is a long and hard process. Here is a list of common techniques for cleaning flooded items:

² Cupboards and counters need to be cleaned and rinsed with a chlorine bleach solution before storing dishes.

Pump out the basement

Furniture

If your basement is full or nearly full of water, pump out just 2 or 3 feet of water each day. If you drain the basement too quickly, the pressure outside the walls will be greater than the pressure inside the walls. That could make the walls and floor crack and collapse.

² Take furniture, rugs, bedding and clothing outside to dry as soon as possible. Use an air conditioner or dehumidifier to remove moisture or open windows to ventilate with outdoor air. Use fans to circulate air in the house. If mold and mildew have already developed, brush off items outdoors to prevent scattering spores in the house. Vacuum floors, ceilings and walls to remove mildew, then wash with disinfectant. Wear a two-strap protective mask to prevent breathing mold spores. ² Mattresses should be thrown away. ² Upholstered furniture soaks up contaminants from floodwaters and should be cleaned only by a professional. ² Wood veneered furniture is usually not worth the cost and effort of repair. ² Solid wood furniture can usually be restored.

Heating and cooling systems, ducts Will need inspection and cleaning. Soaked insulation should be replaced.

Electrical system The system must be shut off and repaired and inspected by an electrician before it can be turned back on. Wiring must be completely dried out — even behind walls. Switches, convenience outlets, light outlets, and entrance panel and junction boxes that have been underwater may be filled with mud.

Contaminated mud ² Shovel out as much mud as possible, then use a garden sprayer or hose to wash away mud from hard surfaces. ² Clean and disinfect every surface. Scrub surfaces with hot water and a heavy-duty cleaner. Then disinfect with a solution of 1/4 cup chlorine bleach per gallon of water or a product that is labeled as a disinfectant to kill germs.

In the kitchen ² Immerse glass, porcelain, china, plastic dinnerware and enamelware for 10 minutes in a disinfecting solution of 2 tablespoons of chlorine bleach per gallon of hot water. Air-dry dishes. ² Disinfect silverware, metal utensils, and pots and pans by boiling in water for 10 minutes. Chlorine bleach should not be used because it reacts with many metals and causes them to darken.

Ceilings and walls ² Wallboard acts like a sponge when wet. Remove wallboard, plaster and paneling to at least the flood level. If soaked by contaminated floodwater, it can be a permanent health hazard and should be removed. If most of the wallboard was soaked by clean rainwater, consider cutting a 4- to 12inch-high section from the bottom and top of walls. This creates a “chimney effect” of air movement for faster drying. A reciprocating saw with a metal cutting blade works well, but use only the tip of the blade and watch out for pipes, ductwork and wiring. ² The three kinds of insulation must be treated differently. Styrofoam might need only to be hosed off. Fiberglass batts should be thrown out if muddy but may be reused if dried thoroughly. Loose or blown-in cellulose should be replaced since it holds water for a long time and can lose its antifungal and fire retardant abilities. SOURCE: WWW.FLOODSAFETY.COM

HOME INSURANCE First things first: Call your insurance agent. If your insurance covers the damage, your agent will tell you when an adjuster will contact you. List damage

and take photos or video as you clean. You’ll need complete records for insurance claims, applications for disaster assistance and income tax deductions.

FEMA HELP Residents who sustained losses in counties declared disaster areas can apply for assistance by registering online at DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing- and speechimpaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

seven days a week. Information needed to register: name and Social Security number; address of the damaged property; current address and telephone number; insurance information; household annual income; bank routing and account number for direct deposit; description of losses.

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FLOOD OF 2010

18A • SATURDAY, MAY 8, 2010

THE TENNESSEAN

Search FLOOD for a video of the Bankers talking about their baby’s dramatic delivery.

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Clare Banker was born in the house of a neighbor when Cindy Banker and her husband, James, left, were trapped in their Bellevue subdivision by rising floodwater Sunday. STEVEN S. HARMAN / THE TENNESSEAN

Neighbors help deliver baby as flood rises By Jennifer Brooks THE TENNESSEAN

Just when it seemed the sky was falling in on Nashville, the flood brought one bit of good into the world — 8 pounds, 13 ounces worth, to be exact. Clare Banker, one week old this Mother’s Day, was born in the middle of the storm of the century, in a neighborhood cut off from the rest of the city by rising floodwaters, with only her neighbors on hand to help with the birth. Fortunately for baby Clare and her parents, James and Cindy Banker, they have very, very good neighbors. “It was like the parable of the Stone Soup. Everybody contributed a little something to help deliver this baby,” said Cassie Batty, a registered nurse who lives half a block down from the Bankers. Batty provided her house and the medical equipment in the trunk of her car to help with the delivery. It all started Sunday morning. The rain was sheeting down, the rivers were rising, and Cindy Banker’s contractions were four minutes apart. The couple found someone to watch their 2-yearold son, Jacob, and set out in their car at 10 a.m., searching for a safe route to the hospital. But every road they tried was flooded. Frantic now, they doubled back to try to find help. Neighbor Yusef Hasan spread the word, knocking on doors up and down the street, making calls and sending e-mails, searching for anybody who knew anybody who could help deliver a baby in less than ideal circumstances.

ple had, Cindy Banker said, was, “What can we do to help?” Eventually, Batty’s husband, a police officer, managed to flag down a Williamson County ambulance and coax it across the county line to help carry the newborn and her parents to the hospital. As they left the house, they were greeted by what looked like the entire neighborhood, standing out in the rain and cheering.

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TN-0000598498


FLOOD OF 2010 EIGHTH DAY OF COVERAGE

SUNDAY, MAY 9, 2010 What went wrong, what comes next


S U N D AY, M AY 9, 2 0 1 0 • NA S H V I L L E

FLOOD OF 2010

What’s next

EVEN AS DAMAGE ESTIMATES SOAR, NO TAX INCREASES OR BUDGET CUTS EXPECTED Reliving terror, rebuilding lives

21A

By Naomi Snyder and Michael Cass

THE TENNESSEAN

D

espite damage estimates from last week’s flood already soaring into the billions of dollars, city governments and the state say they have enough money to rebuild without slashing budgets or raising taxes. That’s not to say restoring the flood-ravaged 52county area will be easy or quick, but Gov. Phil Bredesen and municipal leaders from across the region say the situation — aided by federal money — will at least be manageable. Nashville Mayor Karl Dean has said damage to private property in Davidson County alone has reached $1.5 billion and will keep climbing. That already rising number will go even higher as other communities complete their damage estimates. “If somebody For many families who are still sorting through doesn’t have mud and debris, the flood flood insurance, will wipe out life savings and spark a new round of none of this home foreclosures, while as (aid) … is going many as one-third of the businesses that suffered to make them damage probably will never whole.” reopen. And those who have GOV. PHIL experienced similar natural BREDESEN disasters say life in parts of Middle Tennessee won’t return to normal for two years or more. But for all the bleakness, state and local officials, from Bredesen to city finance managers, seemed confident about the region’s prospects. For starters, the Federal Emergency Management Agency reimburses 75 percent of qualifying projects, leaving local governments and the state to split the remaining 25 percent. Though he said he doesn’t know the ultimate cost of repairing and replacing infrastructure, Bredesen said he’s comfortable the state can handle its portion. Tennessee will have about $17.1 million in available cash reserves if Bredesen’s proposed budget, which is being debated by the state legislature, is approved. The governor said the state also has the authority to spend whatever is necessary from its rainy-day fund, which is expected to have about $450 million at the

Volunteers help tear up a wood floor at a Bellevue home in the Riverside subdivision. On Saturday, hard-hit communities came up for air to find an outpouring of aid from churches, volunteer groups and complete strangers. MATT KRYGER / THE INDIANAPOLIS STAR

Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano with Sen. Lamar Alexander, left, and Nashville Mayor Karl Dean

Homeland chief gives praise

6A

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, visiting flood-damaged areas of Middle Tennessee on Saturday morning, said she was impressed by the way the state was handling the widespread disaster.

>> FLOOD, 2A

Everyday heroes lift Nashville Inside Gaylord’s fight to save guests

21A

As he weighed worsening rains against a weather forecast he increasingly questioned, Gaylord CEO Colin Reed made the decision to evacuate Opryland Hotel during a nerve-racking weekend.

The rain falls. And we rise. The flood comes. And we rise. The water recedes. And we rise. Even in the face of the Flood of 2010, why would we expect any less of ourselves and our city? Lifelong residents and >> DAVID CLIMER newcomers alike understand: Nashville has a heart and a soul. We are at our best when things are at their worst. And we take care of our own. We took Mother Nature’s best shot and survived. A once-in-a-lifetime flood may have knocked us down, but we got back up. And we are better for it. This is a classic Nashville success story. You bring a guitar to town in hopes that one day you’ll make it in country music. You pull a group of investors together and try to build a health-care empire. We dream big and we live large. OK, this wasn’t easy. By last Sunday evening, we hardly recognized our city because of unprecedented

Behind the Corps’ dam struggle

the rain kept 21A Asfalling and the

rivers filled, the Army Corps of Engineers was running out of options.

>> EXPANDED COVERAGE BEGINS ON 21A

TO OUR READERS

The organization of today’s Tennessean has been changed slightly to accommodate expanded flood coverage. A 10-page section on the Flood of 2010 replaces the Issues section. Today’s editorial and commentary pages move from Issues to the back of the first news section — their typical weekday home. Also, the celebrity column “People in the News” can be found on Page 2B.

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More than 1 million people in Middle Tennessee read our newspapers and use our websites every week.

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VOL. 106, NO. 129


2A • SUNDAY, MAY 9, 2010

FLOOD OF 2010

THE TENNESSEAN

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Many Bellevue residents remain without landline phone service. AT&T spokeswoman Cathy Llewandowski said it is unclear how many landlines have been knocked out of service or when they will be restored. “We want to hear from our customers and how we can assist them. We understand the devastation they have been through, and we are working to restore services as soon as possible,” she said. Llewandowski encouraged AT&T customers to call customer service at 1-800-288-2747 or 1-800222-3200. The company has established mobile phone banks at the Bellevue Community Center on Colice Jeanne Road and Napier Community Center on Fairfield Avenue to provide access to wireless Internet, phones and Yellow Pages directories. Bellevue resident Murray Clark Havens said he has not had landline service since last Sunday, despite power returning to his McCrory Lane home on Monday. An automated message on the AT&T repair line said his landline would not be repaired until May 20, Havens said.

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Metro has created a website for Davidson County residents to report flood damage. Report your flood damage at http://maps.nashville.gov/damage/. It will help Metro government officials tally the most accurate numbers on the effects of the flood. The website is not connected to relief efforts or emergency services; residents should register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency at 800-621-FEMA or www.disasterassistance. gov/daip_en.portal for those services. — JUANITA COUSINS

Floodwaters rise around Nashville’s riverfront. Damage to private property in Davidson County has already reached $1.5 billion. LARRY McCORMACK / THE TENNESSEAN

Bredesen says state can afford flood costs >> FLOOD FROM 1A end of the next fiscal year in June 2011. In addition, the state has more than $100 million in self-insurance and flood coverage, Bredesen said. “In terms of the state’s ability to meet the matching requirements for federal aid, we’re in very solid shape,” he said. “I can’t think of anything else I would do today to address those issues.”

Cities may tap reserves In Nashville, Metro will have to repair some major government buildings, including one of its two water treatment plants; its two major-league sports venues, LP Field and Bridgestone Arena; the Nashville Farmers Market; Municipal Auditorium; and some roads, bridges and schools. There also will be small costs for equipment replacement and repairs, Metro Finance Director Rich Riebeling said. Riebeling said the city could use three funding sources to pay its part of the bills. Dean has put on hold a plan to ask the Metro Council for money within the operating budget for items like roof repairs and vehicle replacements, which could free up as much as $30 mil-

lion. Dean has put a $160 million capital budget on hold, as well. Metro also could issue municipal bonds to pay for some projects, depending on the cost, or tap its reserve funds. “I can’t imagine a better use of a rainy-day fund,” Riebeling said. In Williamson County, the city of Franklin could use reserve funds to cover any costs until it gets reimbursed, said Russ Truell, the city’s chief financial officer. Franklin has about $2 million in a property and liability fund and $5 million in a cash-flow reserve. Clarksville is looking at spending $5 million to $7.5 million to cover 25 percent of the cost of rebuilding its wastewater treatment plant, Mayor Johnny Piper said. The state does not help with the cost of repairing utilities, Piper said. He said every revenue source would be considered to pay for flood-related expenses, including a sales tax that was originally designated for building a school. The city’s reserves equal 22 percent of Clarksville’s operating budget. “We certainly are financially sound enough to handle this,” Piper said. For the state, there could be buildings to clean up,

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© 2010 Regions Bank. *Programs available for a limited time and only to individuals and businesses affected by storm and flooding damage. All loans and lines are subject to required documentation and credit approval. Programs are subject to change without notice. Certain exclusions and restrictions may apply for all loan programs. Residency restrictions may 1 apply. The no-penalty program allows customers to make one partial or complete withdrawal without penalty. The penalty-free withdrawal must be made more than seven days after the issue date or, if the CD is renewed, more than seven days after the renewal date. Any other withdrawals will be subject to penalties. 2Subject to credit approval. Interest will continue to accrue during the period that the payment is skipped or deferred. For installment loans, deferring or skipping payment will extend the maturity of your loan but will not automatically extend any optional insurance. Please contact your Regions banker for details. 3The credit card program is issued and administered by FIA Card Services, NA. Subject to credit approval. 4ATM services to non-customers may be subject to fees charged by other banks. TN-0000598802

Fallout likely for years For individuals, federal assistance will only go so far. “If somebody doesn’t have flood insurance, none of this (aid) we’re talking

>> FLOOD, 3A

TN-0000595266

TENNESSEAN

T COM

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roads and bridges to rebuild, and vehicles and other equipment to replace. Paul Degges, chief engineer for the Tennessee Department of Transportation, said the cost of repairing state roads could be in the range of $20 million. TDOT has already awarded 10 emergency contracts worth up to $15 million. Degges said TDOT hopes the Federal Highway Administration will reimburse the state fully for some of the projects. TDOT would apply to FEMA for reimbursement for any remaining work. FEMA, however, has struggled to stay current reimbursing state and local governments. FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said the agency urgently needs additional funding from Congress so it can address more than $1 billion worth of projects from past disasters. The House of Representatives has approved the funding, but the Senate has yet to act. U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander said he would press to get more money for FEMA, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and other agencies devoted to flood relief. “We’re going to try to beef up the federal appropriation to make sure there’s enough money,” he said. “I’ll be doing my best to add to it in the accounts that are likely to be the most help to Tennesseans. I’ll be working with our entire congressional delegation on that.” Fugate said FEMA has enough money to address individuals’ and families’ immediate needs, breaking down the recovery effort into four major steps: helping individuals and families; cleanup; assessing infrastructure damage; and rebuilding to try to avoid another disaster.

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FLOOD OF 2010

THE TENNESSEAN

SUNDAY, MAY 9, 2010 • 3A

TO OUR READERS People in the News is on Page 2B in today’s edition.

ON THIS DATE IN HISTORY Today is Sunday, May 9, the 129th day of 2010. There are 236 days left in the year. This is Mother’s Day. On this date in: 2005 — Actress Renee Zellweger married country music star Kenny Chesney on the Caribbean island of St. John. (However, the marriage was annulled just months later). — ASSOCIATED PRESS

LOTTERY RESULTS

Julia Rather, in front of her home in the River Walk subdivision in Bellevue, lost her car and the possessions in her home during last week’s flood. Rather, who doesn’t have flood insurance, lost her job in December. MATT KRYER / THE INDIANAPOLIS STAR

Little relief available for some homeowners >> FLOOD FROM 2A about — I just want to be frank — none of this stuff is going to make them whole,” Bredesen said. “This is something that is going to be a personal tragedy for a lot of people.” Julia Rather is one of them. She lost her job in December. Then she lost her car and all her belongings last weekend. A neighbor made sure she didn’t lose her life, too — ignoring her desire to stay at home as floodwaters rose, he grabbed her by the wrist and led her out of the River Walk subdivision in Bellevue with water rushing around their ankles. “You could see the water rising, but it was like it didn’t register in your brain,” Rather said. “I don’t have anything now. I have nowhere to go.”

FEMA loans limited For individuals, much of the aid will come in the form of low-interest loans. FEMA caps its assistance for households at $29,900 and says it will rebuild homes only to make them safe, not replace all losses. Nearly 16,000 people in 30 declared disaster counties in Tennessee applied for such aid by Saturday morning. Some homes and businesses will be abandoned to foreclosure, leaving a legacy of damage that could take years to fix. Nashville had counted 9,300 properties with damage by the end of the week — nearly 2,000 of them residential, with only 83 percent of the damage assessment complete. Officials from surrounding counties said they don’t yet know the extent of the damage. Government and aid agencies said they also don’t know how many damaged homes and businesses have flood insurance, but it is clear that many do not. That could lead to more foreclosures in a housing market already struggling, said David Penn, an economist with Middle Tennessee State University. Some homeowners in River Walk were skeptical that they could take on any more debt or rebuild their homes if they didn’t get federal grants to cover the damage. Most, like Rather, the homeowner rescued from River Walk, didn’t have flood insurance. “I don’t think anyone is going to give me a loan,” she said. “I don’t have a job.” Andrea Brumley, a 35year-old who lives in the

Pennington Bend area near the Cumberland River, said she didn’t live in a flood plain and was told she didn’t need flood insurance. Her homeowners insurance company rejected her claim without sending out an adjuster to inspect it, she said. Brumley said her husband recently lost his job as a database administrator. “It’s not just what we’ve lost, but the cleanup,” she said. “I have no idea how we’re going to pay for it.”

Tourism dollars lost Matt Murray, an economist at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, said tourism dollars lost to the city will never be recovered, but he didn’t think the flooding would do longterm damage to the industry. Butch Spyridon, president and CEO of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau, has estimated the city could lose 10 percent to 20 percent of its tourism spending, at least temporarily. Metro budgeted $29 million in hotel-motel tax revenue — a third of which will help pay for building a new convention center — for the budget year that ends June 30. That will rise to half of the hotel-motel revenue in the next budget. But outlying areas won’t feel the same impact, and the construction industry may already be getting a boost. As of March, the state had lost more than 10,000 construction jobs in the past year. At a job fair Thursday at Advantage Staffing, the temp agency said it was trying to fill 300 jobs with cleanup companies coming into the area after the floods. That compares with some periods last year when they had as few as 10 positions to fill in one week. “I’m willing to do anything,” said Murfreesboro resident Michael Tusie, who was attending the job fair last week and has 20 years of experience in the construction business. Tusie said he hasn’t been able to find steady work since moving from Texas two years ago. The Home Depot in Bellevue was so busy last week it had to recruit 15 employees from other Home Depot stores to help with traffic, which has about doubled since the flooding. Contractors filled the parking lot most every day. The store got seven deliveries by midweek of semitrailers filled with cleaning supplies. People filed in to

buy mops, bleach, $600 generators and $200 dehumidifiers. Even the hot dog man benefited. “Bellevue is filled with people who are tired of peanut butter sandwiches,” said Bill Dickey, who owns the Nathan’s Hotdogs stand at The Home Depot. He saw sales climb 50 percent.

Iowa offers lessons The Iowa floods in the summer of 2008 may help paint a picture of what’s ahead for Tennessee. “You guys have a long way ahead of you,” said Greg Eyerly, who continues to work as Cedar Rapids’ flood recovery director. Eyerly is in the process of buying 1,300 homes that were abandoned so they can be demolished after floodwaters rushed into residential areas and more than eight blocks of downtown. As in Nashville, many people did not have flood insurance. Eyerly said about 20 percent of the businesses that flooded ended up going out of business, and still others are teetering on the edge two years later. They may have taken on more debt to repair their damaged buildings or rebuilt in areas that now have fewer residents and less traffic. Cedar Rapids’ government also took a hit. It is just

now receiving federal dollars to rebuild city buildings damaged by the flood. In the meantime, the city sold bonds to take care of repairs to public buildings. It also tapped grant money from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide grants to businesses,

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6A • SUNDAY, MAY 9, 2010

THE TENNESSEAN

FLOOD OF 2010

ASSESSING THE DAMAGE

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Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano visits Bellevue with U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, left, and Nashville Mayor Karl Dean. Napolitano was in town to view flood-damaged areas. MANDY LUNN / THE TENNESSEAN

Napolitano praises disaster response By Michael Cass THE TENNESSEAN

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, visiting flood-damaged areas of Middle Tennessee on Saturday morning, said she was impressed by the way the state was handling the disaster. “It’s important to see with our own eyes what the impacts were and also to see what the recovery efforts are,” Napolitano said at Bellevue Community Center, where Metro government has a disaster assistance center. “A quite impressive effort is under way already in Tennessee.” Napolitano said 16,000 Tennessee residents had registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency for assistance. She said the agency, which is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, has completed more than 650 property inspections and approved more than $4.1 million in individual assistance. She encouraged victims who haven’t registered yet to do so at 800-621-FEMA, www.fema.gov or, on mobile phones with Internet access, m.fema.gov.

Napolitano said she expects FEMA will still be here in six months, with the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Small Business Administration also expected to play large roles by then. Those agencies’ chief executives will visit Tennessee early this week, along with the Commerce secretary. She said President Barack Obama has been briefed regularly on the impact of the flooding and the federal government’s response. “He knows the extent of this and the breadth and depth of this,” she said. “One of the reasons I am here is that Homeland Security — how do you say it — we’re kind of first on the scene at the Cabinet level.” U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander said Napolitano’s visit was important for Tennessee residents to see. “FEMA’s actions to date have been exemplary,” he said. “The secretary’s presence underscores the fact that despite the fact there are other disasters in the world and Tennesseans aren’t complaining, the government in Washington is on the job.” Contact Michael Cass at 615-2598838 or mcass@tennessean.com.

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FLOOD OF 2010

20A • SUNDAY, MAY 9, 2010

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New words and terms became part of our vocabulary — flood plain, river elevation, dam releases, emergency response. The flood didn’t play favorites. A city filled with special destinations and familiar sights took on water. And it hurt to watch. Nashville is a diverse city, but there is a shared sense of ownership. You may not know the difference between Bach and bluegrass, but it’s hard not to be proud of the gleaming Schermerhorn Symphony Center. The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is a vital part of our city, even to those who aren’t country music fans. Both suffered significant flood damage. And it didn’t stop there. Anything remotely near the Cumberland River was at risk. That included the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, where guests were evacuated last Sunday. Many of them spent the night sleeping on cots at McGavock High School. Gaylord CEO and Chairman Colin Reed said it could be six months before the hotel can reopen. It was another reminder that our routine had changed. Some people visit the sprawling hotel every December to look at the Christmas lights. Some bring out-of-towners there to walk through the atriums and enjoy the sights. Some make it a regular stop for Sunday brunch. Barbara Buchanan considers Opryland Hotel part of her life. A native Nashvillian, she now lives in suburban Chicago with her husband and two children. Her high school prom was at Opryland Hotel. Her wedding was at Opryland Hotel. Her family comes back every other year to vacation at Opryland Hotel. She was scheduled to stay at the hotel for three days in mid-June. Those vacation plans have been scuttled. “When I heard about the flood, my first thought was, ‘Opryland is near that river. I hope it’s OK,’ ” she said. “Then I saw the pictures and it just broke my heart. It’s such a beautiful place.” Everyone was in searchand-rescue mode. Dozens of residents of River Plantation subdivision in Bellevue were forced from their homes and had to spend the night at nearby Nashville Christian Academy. They showered in the athletic locker room facility. “The community was incredible,” said Ben Martin, athletics director at Nashville Christian. Fishermen and water enthusiasts used their boats to conduct impromptu rescues. Brian Sullins of Antioch called it the Redneck Armada. He and several of his fishing buddies worked the flooded Mill Creek area to get stranded homeowners out of harm’s way.

In time, the floodwaters subsided, but the sense of community didn’t. Out of shared tragedy came a shared commitment to help one another. Within three days of the flood, more than 12,000 people signed up to help Hands On Nashville, the agency coordinating volunteer disaster relief. And that didn’t include the volunteer efforts by neighborhoods, schools, churches and individuals. “Neighbors are checking on neighbors, seeing if there’s anything they can do to help,” Mayor Karl Dean said. “This is a special city. We’re lucky to live here.” Fundraising efforts kicked in quickly. Country music star and longtime Nashville resident Vince Gill hastily put together a telethon on WSMV-TV. Among the stars who performed was Keith Urban, who played a borrowed guitar because his equipment was destroyed in the flood. More than $1.7 million was raised in 3½ hours. At first, the national media didn’t get it. Compared with the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and a failed car bombing in Times Square, a flooded city wasn’t deemed sexy enough.

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Finally, on Monday night, Keith Olbermann gave a shout-out to Nashville and the surrounding area on MSNBC’s Countdown. Other news outlets eventually came along for the ride. Anderson Cooper of CNN hit town Thursday and repeatedly apologized for his late arrival. By then, the Cumberland River had long since crested and the worst damage was over. Want bigger national headlines? Start looting. The absence of major looting was a significant part of this story. We’re better than that. Our city never lost control. A natural disaster brought out our very best. Volunteer spirit was on display throughout the Volunteer State. Neighbors helped neighbors. Good Samaritans were everywhere. If you needed help, all you had to do was ask. There were heroes at every turn, Regular Joes and Janes who reached out to help those in need. Everybody seemed willing to pitch in, whether it was stacking sandbags to reinforce the levee at MetroCenter, clearing debris as the floodwaters receded or simply making sure your neighbors were OK. Now comes the hard part. We may have been through the worst of this but much work remains as we clean up and rebuild. But we’ll manage. Because this is Nashville.

LANDSCAPE

rainfall. The Cumberland River was climbing out of its banks. Riverfront Park was in the river. Creeks that ran through quiet neighborhoods became swollen and dangerous. Entire residential communities were underwater. Even with the latest technology in weather forecasting, nobody saw this coming. The two-day total of more than 13 inches of rain nearly doubled the previous 48-hour record of 6.68 inches in the wake of Hurricane Frederic in 1979. Dark, murky water covered parts of downtown. Thousands were without power. Some residents had to leave their homes as the water rose. Others couldn’t because of flooded streets and washed-out bridges. The three interstates that run through Nashville were closed at times. Motorists were stranded for about 15 hours at a rest area on westbound Interstate 40 at mile marker 172 near the Dickson exit. Middle Tennesseans are notorious for hurrying to the nearest supermarket and draining it of essentials at the first whisper of snow or ice. But what do you do when the parking lot of the local grocery is under 2 feet of water and the power is out?

“We’re just a bunch of guys that know how to get a boat from here to there,” said Sullins, who estimated that he ferried 40 people to safety Sunday and Monday.

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FLOODOF2010 | SUNDAY, MAY 9, 2010 | A21

Volunteers turn out in force to aid victims By Christina E. Sanchez THE TENNESSEAN

One was a dessert baker. Another was a physical trainer. A third was a pastor. They had different skills, not at all related to flood cleanup. But it didn’t matter. In what was likely to be among the busiest days of the relief effort, thousands of volunteers dispersed across Middle Tennessee on Saturday. Pockets of the hardest-hit communities — East Nashville, Antioch, West Nashville, Bordeaux, Bellevue — came up for air to find an outpouring of workers from churches, volunteer groups and disaster relief agencies. Volunteers fed workers, tore out drywall, counseled distraught flood victims, handed out cases of water and tweeted on Twitter about what help was needed. They made a dent in work that will go on for months. “There was life-changing damage,” said Catherine McTamaney, a volunteer organizer in East Nashville. “People are realizing how much work needed to be done. The numbers of volunteers just kept climbing through the week.” People came from all over the state, from Fort Campbell, from Chattanooga, compelled to volunteer. The American Red Cross had recorded more than 1,300 volunteers by Friday. Large congregations saw members show up en masse like Cross Point Community Church, which had more than 1,600 people on Saturday. Hands On Nashville saw more than 5,100 volunteers log more than 19,000 hours to help out across the city by Saturday. The nonprofit agency has offered advice and direction to thousands more who are organizing their own projects or donations. “The referrals we have made far outnumber the people we have signing up just through us,” said Lisa Davis, external affairs director for Hands On Nashville. “It’s really neat to see the way the whole community is organizing and coming together.” In communities like East Nashville — where many people don’t think word got out that the flood affected them — neighbors were taking volunteerism in their own hands. Water had damaged homes in historic Lockeland Springs, East Nashville and Inglewood. Linda Cato, who has lived in her Russell Street home for 33 years, was reluctant to accept help, but the overwhelming job ahead of her changed her mind. “It makes you want to cry,” said Cato, choking back tears as 14 people cleaned out her basement. “You can lose something in a flash, but then you have the most wonderful people showing up like this.” Many groups organized through East Nashville computer listservs, and that’s how Katy Branson spread the word to fellow East Nashvillians that she was holding a bake sale fundraiser. Dozens of people showed up to give her more desserts and items for a silent auction. She will give the money to a volunteers group to buy supplies. “I am not useful at hard labor, but I love to bake,” Branson said. “When something like this happens, you just want to be able to do something.”

Word goes out to immigrants In Antioch, Donna Perry-Flores and her husband, Rodrigo Flores, a pastor, reached out to Hispanic immigrants. They worry that people have forgotten that section of town, hard hit by the flooding from Mill Creek. Perry-Flores went on Spanishlanguage Radio Luz to tell people free assistance is available. She and other volunteers with the Southeast Nashville Flood Relief effort have gone door to door checking on people. “We found a family living in a house that had been flooded because they didn’t know they could get help,” Perry-Flores said. “We’re cleaning out their homes

In-depth

Corps struggled with dams, forecasts 24 65

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By Brad Schrade and Anne Paine THE TENNESSEAN

When Mike Ezell left his overnight shift commanding the Old Hickory Dam on the morning of Saturday, May 1, he had no reason to think the next two days would be the most difficult of his 35-year career. The lake was resting normally, at 444 feet above sea level, just as it had been when he started his shift 12 hours before. But as he slept throughout the day, awaiting his next shift that evening, the weather changed dramatically. Rains that had swept in from the west intensified, and by the afternoon, creeks and tributaries throughout Middle Tennessee were spilling over their banks. TV was looping footage of a building floating down Interstate 24. As Ezell drove back to work that evening, he saw an unfolding chaos, checking the usual

markers along the way — storm drains, creeks and tributaries — all of them swollen with water. “I knew it was going to be bad, but I didn’t have any idea how,” said Ezell, a powerhouse shift manager with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. By Sunday night, water was ripping through the heart of Nashville. The Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center had evacuated 1,500 guests. Water was quickly rising into downtown streets. And residents in Bellevue, Antioch and other areas had been scrambling throughout the day to save any possessions they could — or simply survive the flash floods. The epic rainfall, along with calculations and decisions made by a series of agencies and also inside Mike Ezell’s control room during last weekend’s historic floods, plays a central role in understanding how this disaster

was able to wreak so much havoc in Nashville and across the region. U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander has promised a Senate committee hearing to understand what happened. Gaylord Entertainment Chairman and CEO Colin Reed continues to agonize over why emergency personnel had told him the Cumberland would stay below protective levees around the hotel, while his own security staff witnessed a more urgent situation. For their part, Army Corps of Engineers officials say they see nothing they would have done differently — in fact, they say their actions prevented even further damage to downtown and a washout of the MetroCenter business district. The Tennessean examined Corps maps, flood models, dam release data and lake level reports as well as conducted interviews with key Corps offi-

cials to piece together the events that saw Middle Tennessee’s greatest flood on record since a series of dams were built in the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s along the 687-mile Cumberland River.

No disaster expected Two to 4 inches of rain was forecast for the Nashville area Saturday and Sunday — not the more than 17 inches that fell in some areas — as Bob Sneed and his wife set out from their Springfield home on April 30 for their weekend retreat near Lake Barkley. Sneed, who for almost six years has served as the Army Corps’ chief water manager overseeing the Cumberland, grew up in Goodlettsville and is a Vanderbilt engineering graduate. He has been with the Corps for three decades.

>> RIVER, 24A

Opryland CEO: ‘Not on our watch’

Despite forecasts, Reed evacuates guests just in time By Bonna Johnson THE TENNESSEAN

Floodwaters had yet to breach levees protecting Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center from the Cumberland last Sunday evening, but the water was rising fast. Gazing at the threatening river at 9 p.m., Colin Reed mused: “It’s so quiet. It’s like a silent death.” That moment of eerie silence, standing alone in his headquarters parking lot, belied the magnitude of a decision that Reed had made only minutes earlier. He ordered 1,500 Opryland guests and staff evacuated. They were bused to a public high school and safety despite forecasts at the time that the Nashville flood wouldn’t crash over levees near the hotel. But over the next six hours, parts of Gaylord Opryland

Water got above the stage of the Grand Ole Opry on the Gaylord Opryland property. COURTESY OF GAYLORD OPRYLAND would fill with 6 to 10 feet of water, turning much of the hotel into a swampy, mud-laden hazard. By sunrise Monday, the chairman and CEO of Gaylord Entertainment could see nothing but dark floodwaters between his company’s headquarters and the 2,900-room hotel three miles

>> HELP, 28A MORE AT TENNESSEAN.COM/FLOOD BREAKING NEWS | PHOTO GALLERIES | VIDEO CLIPS | FLOOD RESOURCES

away. “This could be a long time, and this could be very bad,” Reed thought. Fast forward to week’s end. Reed seemed a lot more optimistic — tired, but almost buoyant. It could still take as much as two weeks to fully assess damages, but Reed sensed a spirit

among his executive team and key employees. “The building may be damaged, but the culture of the company is stronger than ever,” he said. The company will need that resolve. The next six months will see Reed battle to return Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center to its stature as a crown jewel of the company’s holdings and to get cash registers humming again at a tourism complex that accounts for one-fifth of Nashville’s hotel tax collections. Here’s how Reed’s and Gaylord’s week in crisis unfolded:

The rains begin When Reed left the office Friday afternoon, April 30, he’d just made plans to meet three buddies for golf the next day. “The world is wonderful,” he remembers thinking. Rainstorms and lightning early Saturday canceled the golf

>> OPRYLAND, 22A


FLOOD OF 2010

22A • SUNDAY, MAY 9, 2010

THE TENNESSEAN

GAYLORD OPRYLAND: 24 HOURS OF DESTRUCTION SUNDAY, MAY 2 ² 10:32 a.m.: At his Oak Hill home, Gaylord CEO and Chairman Colin Reed gets an e-mail from his head of security. The Cumberland River is rising, but it’s projected to crest 3 feet below levees protecting the hotel. Rain should stop by midafternoon; everything seems fine. It’s the first of five e-mails Reed will receive within an eighthour span updating river conditions. Each one shows a higher crest, but none shows floodwaters topping the levees. ² 6:32 p.m.: The final e-mail arrives. An official forecast shows the river will crest 2 feet below the top of the levee nearest Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center.

Workers clean up in the Delta area. Flooding got as high as 10 feet in the section. COURTESY OF GAYLORD OPRYLAND

Deadly lesson from Katrina sparks evacuation order >> OPRYLAND FROM 21A outing, but there was work to be done, with an annual stockholders meeting just a few days away. Reed made plans to work at home, reviewing financials and finetuning his script for a presentation at the annual meeting. There also was a quarterly earnings call coming up, and Wall Street would be eager to learn how well Gaylord was recovering from a 2009 that saw revenues fall amid a broad national slide in convention travel. At the helm of a hospitality conglomerate with $879 million in annual revenues, Reed was feeling good. He felt he had a positive story to tell. Gaylord was bouncing back. Cash flow was up, cancellations were down, and leisure and business travelers were booking at near pre-recession levels. Then at 10:32 a.m. Sunday morning, an e-mail on his mobile phone from Opryland’s head of security caught Reed’s attention. It seemed to be good news. Despite heavy rains, the heaving Cumberland River would crest at 3 feet below the levee nearest the Opryland Resort, according to forecasters. Torrential rains would stop that afternoon. Reed sat down to work at the kitchen table of his Oak Hill home. That’s where he’d be for the next 10 hours, getting updates by e-mail and phone, and where he’d ultimately give the order to evacuate the hotel complex before driving to Gaylord’s headquarters to set up a war room for the duration of the flood. “We need to have somebody check these levees to make sure they’re not compromised,” Reed told Opryland’s head of design and construction sometime before 7 that night. The report back was scary. The water was already a foot from overflowing and still rising. Next came a recommendation from the hotel’s general manager, Peter Weien, to gather all the hotel’s guests in the relatively secure Presidential Ballroom, the highest large space at Gaylord Opryland, just in case the levees broke. Reed was worried. At 8 p.m., he’d gotten Weien and other corporate executives on a conference call. “I know some of our guests are going to be unhappy about this,” Reed told the group, “but I don’t want a replay of what went on in New Orleans the day after Katrina.” Everyone thought the Crescent City had escaped danger when the hurricane’s top winds veered east, but then the levees broke and 90 percent of that city was flooded. Hundreds died. “Not on our watch,” Reed told his team.

Opryland activates crisis plan “There was no hesitation,” Reed said later of his decision to evacuate. It was an emotional call from the often-steely executive. “The most compelling override was to get our people and our customers out,” Reed said. “We can’t have any fatalities here. Buildings you can replace; people you can’t.” In fact, Reed had already imagined this sort of scenario. Studies a few years ago examined the impact of a catastrophic dam failure upriver from Nashville. They showed that most of downtown might flood, and Opryland could take on 6 to 8 feet of water. Such studies got Reed’s attention, and the company crafted a crisis

² 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.: Reed sends two hotel executives to check the levee. They report back: Water is 12 inches from spilling over the top. ² 7 p.m.: On a call with Reed, hotel Senior Vice President and General Manager Peter Weien recommends guests assemble in the Presidential Ballroom, the highest large space in the hotel. Water is 6 to 9 inches from the top of the levee. ² 8 p.m.: On a conference call with Reed and corporate executives, Weien recommends evacuation of 1,500 hotel guests and hundreds of employees. Reed decides to evacuate. “There was no hesitation,” he says later. “I didn’t want a replay of New Orleans after Katrina.”

Water and mud left by flooding cover the floor of the Cascades lobby.

COURTESY OF GAYLORD OPRYLAND

have such extraordinary devastaresponse plan. “The irony,” Reed said, “is that tion when clearly 12 hours earlier it we’d already thought this through at wasn’t being predicted? Why did this happen?” length.” Reed believed if he had received Some 1,500 guests and hotel staffers were hurried onto buses better information earlier, preparaand shuttled to McGavock High tions could have gone more School as an emergency shelter. In smoothly. “On Monday, my mood, I was the rush, people’s luggage and any thoughts of bringing food along very sad about what had happened,” were forgotten. Top Gaylord execu- Reed said. “On Tuesday, I was tives spent the next few hours buy- angry.” As other members of his execuing doughnuts, pizza and bottled water and fetching pillows to make tive team toured the hotel and took photos of damthe evacuees ages on Monmore comfortday morning, able. Reed declined By 10 p.m., to go with them. Reed was at the “I didn’t want shelter, meeting to do it that day in the principal’s when the water office with his was there,” he executive team, said. “I emoand sketching tionally could an action plan not stand the carved into twothought of hour chunks going over that had nothing there and walkto do with earning through it. It ings calls or was too disturbWall Street. COLIN REED, ing for me. … I The new checklist Chairman and CEO, Gaylord was trying to included what Entertainment keep my mind clear to focus to buy for breakon the things fast, where to that were find other hotel rooms for people or how to book important.” By Friday, floodwater had flights for those who wanted to leave Nashville. Some Gaylord receded to the hotel’s basement staffers tried to replace or retrieve level, and machines were continuing medicines that some guests had left to pump out the remaining water. behind at the hotel amid the rush to BMS CAT, a Fort Worth, Texas, disaster recovery firm that has worked evacuate. “Some of them were miffed when on commercial cleanups in the afterwe dragged them out of bed, but math of hurricanes and earthquakes, when we told them that the Cas- brought in equipment to control cades Lobby was under 4 to 6 feet of humidity and stop moisture from water at 2 in the morning, the mood further eating up building materials. of the place changed,” Reed said. “It One key goal was to prevent the spread of mold in the 4 millionwas dramatic. This was real stuff.” square-foot hotel complex.

“I emotionally could not stand the thought of going over there and walking through it. It was too disturbing for me.”

Digging out, cleaning up

By Monday morning, some spots of the enormous hotel known for its garden-filled atriums, indoor river tour and finely appointed ballrooms were under 10 feet of water. There had been no time to sandbag. Everything had happened so quickly. “I do think there are questions at the end of the day that need to be asked and answered,” Reed said late in the week. “Why did Nashville

Recovery before next year Repairs won’t drag into 2011, Reed said, adding that Wall Street analysts and other investors want to know two things about the damages and repair schedule: “How much, and how long?” An exact timeline of when the hotel will reopen is impossible to develop at this point, but Reed says he’s confident all will be well for

Gaylord’s annual A Country Christmas in about six months. Two big issues are the extent of damage to electronics and other technology in the hotel, which includes a vast telephone and front desk system, as well as the condition of the central plant that heats and cools the building. Construction companies and engineers that took part in the hotel’s construction in 1977 and later expansions are planning the reconstruction push, which should start in June. For at least the next two weeks, the hotel won’t book any reservations through the end of October. So far, 40 to 50 large groups that were scheduled to hold meetings or conventions at Opryland have agreed to relocate to other Gaylord properties in Florida, Texas or the Washington, D.C., area. Gaylord’s sales force will hold many other phone and face-to-face meetings with convention groups to reschedule or move meetings. Gaylord hopes to keep as much business as possible at its other properties, or in Nashville at competing hotels. Already, though, competitors in other cities are trying to poach Gaylord’s business, Reed said. Fortunately, two large conventions have signed contracts with Opryland for 2012 and 2013, a sign that some groups “are willing to help” in any way, the CEO said. During the period in which Opryland remains closed, Reed said Gaylord could decide to make a few changes to boost entertainment options, although nothing will be tackled that could delay reopening. Among ideas in the brainstorming stage are building a large water pool to attract more summer visitors when convention business is slow; or some restaurants could be updated. Another option is to add a giant, Las Vegas-style sports bar similar to venues that have made money at other Gaylord hotels near Dallas and Washington, D.C. “Those will be questions we’ll ask ourselves in the next week or two,” Reed said. First thing’s first, though. Clear the damp air, take care of employees, get the hotel call center up and running. Contact Bonna Johnson at 615-726-5990 or bjohnson@tennessean.com.

² 8:15 p.m.: Reed calls Steve Buchanan, president of the Grand Ole Opry division, and tells him to get out of the theater. Buchanan and others abandon a threehour effort to move precious Opry memorabilia and tapes to safety. Still, much is saved. ² 9 p.m.: Corporate executives trickle into headquarters, about 2 miles from the hotel. Reed asks Weien to rescue country great Roy Acuff’s gun collection from the hotel. ² 9:30p.m.: Hotel evacuation wraps up; before locking the place down, security double-checks each guest room; they find one woman asleep in her bed oblivious to the commotion. Another guest is discovered hiding in a closet hoping to avoid evacuation. ² 10 p.m.: Reed goes to McGavock High School, where guests are sheltered. Senior executives bring the evacuees pillows and water. Pizza and doughnuts come later. ² 11 p.m.: Gaylord security spots small amounts of floodwater breaching the levee. ² Midnight: The Cumberland cascades over the levee, heading toward Gaylord Opryland.

MONDAY, May 3 ² 1 a.m.: Floodwaters reach the front of the hotel. ² 3 a.m.: Parts of the hotel have taken on 4 to 6 feet of water. ² 5 a.m.: Reed gazes at the rain-swollen Cumberland from huge bay windows in his headquarters office. “This could be a long time, and this could be very bad,” he thinks. ² 10 a.m.: Water as deep as 10 feet fills parts of the hotel. — BONNA JOHNSON


SUNDAY, MAY 9, 2010 • 23A

THE TENNESSEAN

FLOOD OF 2010 NASHVILLE’S MUSIC

Storms are no match for the Tennessee spirit

Kurt Allison, left, looks at one of his ruined electric guitars while guitar expert Joe Glaser studies the neck on another. PHOTOS BY JOHN PARTIPILO / THE TENNESSEAN

Valuable guitars ruined or at risk River warehouse

stored gear

By Anita Wadhwani

THE TENNESSEAN

At four hastily arranged warehouses around town, technicians are trying to save Nashville’s guitars. Millions of dollars’ worth of guitars, drums, amplifiers and concert stage sets were submerged during the flood under 3½ feet of water in a warehouse along the Cumberland River banks. Collections of 600 musicians — from big stars such as Brad Paisley, Keith Urban and LeAnn Rimes to Nashville’s lesser-known working artists — stored their equipment at Soundcheck Nashville, the largest music storage in town. Some of it was legendary in music circles, vintage pieces that are irreplaceable. “This is the music version of the Louvre flooding,” said Ed Beaver, a musician and guitar repairer who had equipment there. “If you consider that major artists have instruments not only of monetary value but historical value, it’s scary.” After three days of waiting for floodwaters to go down, Soundcheck allowed some musicians in Friday morning to retrieve gear from its 160,000-square-foot storage and rehearsal space. An estimated 1,000 guitars, 2,000 amplifiers and hundreds of drum sets were damaged.

Tennesseans have always been quick to lend a hand. So in the wake of recent storm damage and flooding, First Tennessee is proud to join with our neighbors in Middle Tennessee to offer assistance to people and businesses located in areas affected by storms and flooding. Starting immediately our customers Bank loans and credit cards as well as credit card limit increases.* Call us toll-free at 866-285-2171 for

“This is the music version of the Louvre flooding.”

additional details and to request assistance. We’ve also developed a special assistance loan program with no origination fees or closing costs for

ED BEAVER, guitar repairer

30 years of gear Wearing rubber boots and gloves was Michael Spriggs, an A-list session player for 25 years whose credits include albums for Faith Hill, Reba McEntire, Trace Adkins and Eddie Rabbitt. He made his way through sludge and puddles in an unlit hallway to his 5-by-10foot storage locker — a space that had been temperature and humidity controlled pre-flood. It was now dank and smelly. The small room contained all of the gear Spriggs had acquired over a 30-year career: three dozen vintage guitars, 16 amplifiers and audio control panels. A 1931 Dobro disintegrated when he lifted it out of a water-filled case. An original Taylor 510 guitar, more than 20 years old, had buckled and warped. A Larrivee DLX guitar, hand- inlaid with mother-of-pearl, was destroyed. Some $20,000 worth of amplifiers, reverb machines and microphones were severely damaged. Of the 13 guitars in his main cartage — the trunk that he routinely brings to recording studios or performances — eight appear to be a total loss, and five may have a shot at being repaired. “At the end of the day, I’m one guy of many who’ve lost gear there,” Spriggs said. “But the biggest tragedy is cumulatively. If you put us all together, all our stuff is music history. You’re never going to hear that 510 guitar sound from Blue (a Rimes album) or Big Time and Dreamin’ Out Loud (by Adkins) or the Faith Hill songs. “Not just these, but all the

can request payment deferrals on First Tennessee

Monroe Barbee and Neil Bergman pour water out of Rich Redmond’s tom drum, which was submerged at Soundcheck Nashville on Cowan Street.

Chris Leuzinger’s 1952 Les Paul Gold Top was destroyed by water damage. The rare guitar is worth $100,000. songs you hear on the radio? All these instruments were making that music. And they’re lost,” Spriggs said.

Big stars’ gear at risk Some of Music City’s biggest stars stored nearly every instrument and all of their concert tour equipment in the warehouse. That included Urban, who had to borrow a guitar to play at WSMV-TV’s benefit concert on Thursday night. Country singer Jo Dee Messina’s elaborate concert sets, including elevators, microphones, instruments and lighting, were flooded. Paisley’s props and dozens of instruments for his upcoming H2O tour were stored at the facility. “My guitar tech is spending like a broker on the stock exchange floor” to replace the gear, Paisley told The Associated Press last week. Many musicians — like Spriggs, who was without insurance — can’t afford to replace their losses so quickly. Three-quarters of all Nashville’s working musicians have gear at Soundcheck, estimated Everett Lybolt, general manager for Sound Image, a Soundcheck competitor that was not affected by the flood. Soundcheck owner Ben Jumper said Friday that it’s unlikely the flood insurance he carried will be of any help to musicians.

qualifying new and existing customers.* This special

“We have insurance, but nowhere near to cover this,” Jumper said. “It’s only going to cover a small amount. A lot of this stuff is irreplaceable.”

program is available to Tennesseans located in areas

Saving guitars

$250,000, divided evenly between the American Red

While individual musicians assess damage to their gear, a trio of Nashville’s elite luthiers, guitar technicians Joe Glaser, George Gruhn and Ed Beaver, have started triage efforts, setting up at four warehouses rented by Soundcheck to dry out and assess equipment. “We are trying to stabilize these instruments until we can decide what to do with them next,” Glaser said. About 20 volunteers planned to examine floodretrieved gear over the weekend, with volunteers in other states standing by to receive valuable instruments in need of repair. “We’re all just motivated by one thing here: We want to save Nashville’s guitars. This is our history here,” Glaser said. At one South Nashville warehouse, drummer Rich Redmond opened a large storage container to find small drums half full of sloshing brown water. An old RCA amplifier used by Chet Atkins was among his soaked gear. An $8,000 German-made Sonor drum as large as a washing machine sat in a foot of water in its case. “These were my pride and joy,” said Redmond, drummer for country star Jason Aldean. “It’s like that with everybody here. There’s no place else on the planet that had this much stuff for this many musicians stored in one place. There’s no other place that housed this much music culture. It’s just a very sad moment in music history.”

Cross and the Salvation Army. And you can join us,

Staff writer Peter Cooper contributed to this story.

that have experienced storm or flood damage. The First Tennessee Foundation has also donated

because the Foundation will match employee and customer contributions to those relief agencies that are also earmarked for Tennessee flood relief, up to another $250,000. These are just a few simple ways we can pitch in as we all pull together.

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* Subject to credit approval. Special qualifying considerations apply. Property insurance will be required on real estate secured loans. Government sponsored relief programs, including loans, may also be available. ©2010 First Tennessee Bank National Association. Member FDIC. www.firsttennessee.com TN-0000598409


FLOOD OF 2010

24A • SUNDAY, MAY 9, 2010

THE TENNESSEAN

No major flooding expected at first >> RIVER FROM 21A By Friday afternoon, the weekend rain forecast had grown increasingly wet, with some flash flooding expected. Back in Nashville, Carol LeStourgeon, one of Sneed’s most experienced assistants, was scheduled to run the water management office that Saturday. The office is the nerve center where decisions are made on how much water to release and keep in each of the Cumberland’s 10 dams. The aging federal dams — some in the midst of critical repair work — are relied upon to balance a variety of competing interests, including barge traffic, drinking water systems, aquatic life, lakefront homes, fishing, power plants and boat docks, among others. The Corps is charged with the high-wire balancing act of managing these needs while protecting the public through a system designed to control floods. While the weekend’s rain forecast meant small tributaries and creeks could fill up, the Cumberland was expected to handle the additional water without major flooding. But by Saturday morning things began to change. Sneed started receiving phone calls from LeStourgeon that morning, each one warning of worsening conditions. The forecast put out for Sunday had grown worse as well, and Nashville and the Cumberland watershed could be in the bull’seye of the storm. By noon, Sneed decided to come back. “The river was getting juiced — primed,” Sneed said. “There was a lot of water coming through the system.” That afternoon, as he drove through the storm, the National Weather Service issued flood warnings for Middle Tennessee. Up to 10 inches had already fallen in some areas. Mill Creek, which feeds into the Cumberland River across from Shelby Bottoms, had become so flooded that its waters engulfed I-24, pushing cars and even buildings along the interstate. Even with the heavy rains, much of Middle Tennessee continued to conduct its business Saturday afternoon. But at Old Hickory Lake, water began rising quickly. Water was already moving through the dam as usual to generate electricity, but authorities decided to open the spill gates to relieve the growing lake levels at 1 p.m. Saturday, according to Corps records. Some question why they didn’t release more water earlier in preparation for the heavy rains. “At that time on Saturday morning we still didn’t have a forecast that looked like anything that followed up,” Sneed said. The standard protocol is not to release water until a pool fills. Releasing a little extra water can simply put more flooding on those farther downstream, he said. Downstream, flooding was already under way as Mill Creek, the Harpeth

Dover Anthony sings and plays his guitar as he looks over a parking lot of submerged cars in East Nashville. JOHN PARTIPILO / THE TENNESSEAN

Mike Ezell, the powerhouse shift manager at Old Hickory Dam, talks about the scene in the control room while water rose in the lake. SAMUEL M. SIMPKINS / THE TENNESSEAN River, the Red River and other streams grew with the rainwater that would be dumped into the Cumberland. “We could have pulled half a foot out of Old Hickory, if you assumed it wouldn’t cause harm downstream. That’s still very little storage and would be filled back up quickly. It wouldn’t have changed the crest (on the Cumberland) at all on Monday evening.” At 5:30 p.m., the National Weather Service issued more flood warnings and the dangerous conditions had spread to counties to the east. By 7 p.m., the Cumberland River in downtown Nashville had risen more than 10 feet that day. That was when Sneed arrived at the office. “I started making calls and lining folks up.” About this same time, downriver to the west at the Corps’ Cheatham Lock and Dam, the crew there faced a crisis. Rising waters were overtaking the entire facility, which is one of the smallest in the river. The

crew shut the turbines off and started to evacuate. They placed the mobile electronic equipment that operates the lock into trucks and left before the facility was submerged. Furniture and files in the office were destroyed. The floodwaters moved in so fast and spread so wide that the Corps even lost parked vehicles that couldn’t be evacuated in time. The dam that sits about 10 miles up river from Clarksville became a “bump in the river,” Sneed said. “It was designed to overtop like it did,” he said, as he looked at a photograph of the flooded facility. “Obviously based on this we’ve got a lot of damage. But there wasn’t a threat to losing the dam. If that happened at Old hickory or Cordell Hull you’ve got a big problem.” But at this point, much of the Corps’ focus was around Nashville, with rain continuing and the little fingerlets of streams that lace the area pouring into the already racing and spreading Mill, Richland, Whites, Browns

24

65

40 440 40

65 24

and other creeks that feed into the Cumberland.

Lake overwhelmed At Old Hickory, inside the control room, Ezell’s adrenaline started to rush Saturday night. He had reported back to work at 6:30 p.m. for another 12hour shift. As the evening wore on, the lake — just feet away — would continue to rise and more water had to be released through the gates toward Nashville. From noon Saturday to 7 a.m. Sunday, the Corps made adjustments to the flood gates 10 times as they struggled to manage the massive amounts of water that were flowing from tributaries into the lake. At Old Hickory, by the time Ezell left at 6:30 a.m. Sunday, the river in downtown Nashville had risen nearly 10 feet higher, and was just 3 feet below the 40foot flood stage, according to Corps records, even though there had been nearly a seven-hour lull in the rain. Ezell arrived home and

Debris from the floodwater in Old Hickory Dam had collected on the back side of the dam by Friday. SAMUEL M. SIMPKINS / THE TENNESSEAN

was exhausted. He tried to relax by telling his wife about the shift before she went off to church then tried to fall asleep, though his mind was racing. “This is the worst I’ve ever seen it in my career,” Ezell said later. “This was the worst. The lake elevation went up faster than it ever has since I’ve been here.” Old Hickory Lake, while it looks large, is small when it comes to holding storm runoff. It sits in the flow of the Cumberland River, and was not designed as one of the four, deep flood control projects in the Cumberland system. The flood control projects are J. Percy Priest, Center Hill, Dale Hollow and Wolf Creek. But Sneed was still hopeful Sunday morning that the raging stormwater pouring into the lake could be managed. When he left his home in Springfield Sunday morning, he knew it was going to be a difficult day. He’d packed a change of clothing in the anticipation that he may get stuck in Nashville that night. The roads were treacherous. The water at Old Hickory had gone up 2 feet from the night before to 447.88 feet above sea level, and it was getting closer to the critical 452-foot mark. At the 452 level, the Corps has few options. They either let the water flow over the dam, which undermines the dam, or raise the spill gates and create a controlled freeflow. Either scenario leaves communities downstream vulnerable. “We’re trying to hold it,” Sneed said. “We’re still hopeful at this point on Sunday morning we’re going to keep Nashville below flood stage. We’re holding back.”

Dam crew in a bind Within hours, those hopes were shattered. The heavy rains that morning kept pouring water into the Cumberland basin. By 10 a.m. Sunday, downtown Nashville had reached flood stage of 40 feet. Water level at Old Hickory Lake, above the dam, had climbed almost two more feet to 449.40. Ezell had been home only a few hours, when his phone rang. It was Chris Campbell, the powerhouse shift manager who’d relieved him earlier in the morning. He needed backup. When Ezell arrived about 11 a.m., the water had risen again, and it would keep rising for the next three hours before leveling off at 451.45, just a half foot from the water spilling over the gates. Ezell knew the situation was getting tense. The phone on the control panel was ringing off the hook. With rains pouring, two men were ordered to the top of the dam to handle the increased spill gate movements. The dam crew, taking direction from Sneed’s office, was trying to get control of the water pouring into the lake, while trying to minimize flooding downriver. Three or four hours after Ezell arrived, they called in more help. They were trying to shut down lights and electrical equipment in areas of the dam that were going to be underwater. “It’s real, real hectic,” Ezell said. “You’re monitoring your headwater elevations. You’re in communications with the hydraulics department in Nashville. They are constantly calling to get information from us.


FLOOD OF 2010

THE TENNESSEAN

SUNDAY, MAY 9, 2010 • 25A

Industrial businesses that back up to the Cumberland River were swamped by Monday afternoon. SAMUEL M. SIMPKINS / THE TENNESSEAN

Olga M. Beddingfield, the power project manager at Old Hickory Dam in Hendersonville, talks about the toll the storm and flooding took on the facility. SAMUEL M. SIMPKINS / THE TENNESSEAN We’re making calculations. They’re making calculations. We’re giving the guys orders to go out with the gates. There’s a lot of steps we have to take to secure the project as the water is going up. It get’s real busy.” At one point, Campbell turned to Ezell. “He’s looking at me asking me, have I ever been through anything like this. I’m saying no. I have more experience than he does and he was leaning more on me. And I was trying to calm him down. We just supported each other through this thing.”

flood crest. But the furious rains Sunday had disrupted that plan. Waters at Percy Priest had climbed four feet Sunday to reach 498 feet above sea level when the day closed — that’s six feet below the top the dam. Opryland began evacuating Sunday evening and city officials started to raise concerns about a leaking levee in MetroCenter, causing an evacuation there. Sneed slept over in Nashville that night.

Priest Lake fills up

When Ezell reported back to work at Old Hickory at midnight Sunday, he heard the scream of the waters flowing through the spill gates. It sounded like a jet engine as the muddied waters filled with trees and debris slashed through the dam gates in a violent brown fury. “My anxiety level went up again,” he said. “When you pull in you see how much we were discharging. I knew it was higher than I’d seen in a long time. When the gates are open like we had them open right at the dam it’s real violent.” Ezell was concerned about what was happening downstream and what damage the waters may cause, but he believed there was no other choice but to release water from Old Hickory or risk losing control. “I guess most things that you think about that’s weighing on you is ‘Am I doing everything that I can? Am I doing everything correct because you know the gravity of what’s going to happen if things go wrong.” By the time Ezell left at 6:30 that morning the waters on Old Hickory had dipped below 451 feet, and would

By Sunday afternoon, the Cumberland river in downtown Nashville had reached 45.64 feet as Mayor Karl Dean, his police chief, fire chief and others stood in the lobby of the city’s emergency management building atop a hill near Belmont University. The rains were scheduled to pass that evening and the mayor’s administration predicted the crest would come through downtown around 48 feet sometime Sunday night. At Old Hickory Lake, the discharges would reach more than 200,000 cubic feet per second by 6 p.m. that evening — three times the amount passing through the dam when the day started, according to Corps discharge data. And there was another problem emerging. J. Percy Priest Lake, which dams up the Stones River, and flows into the Cumberland between Old Hickory Dam and downtown, was filling up fast. The Corps had hoped to hold back water from Percy Priest, to allow the waters from Old Hickory to pass through downtown, and shave some feet off the

‘It’s real violent’

Ira Godsy, who lives in the Knights Motel in East Nashville, wades out to his car. JOHN PARTIPILO / THE TENNESSEAN

A kayaker paddles under the Shelby Avenue bridge as floodwaters rise around the riverfront area of downtown Nashville. LARRY MCCORMACK / THE TENNESSEAN

drop below 450 by noon. Monday that Nashville’s Originally, the Cumberland remaining water treatment had been expected to reach plant off Omohundro Drive its highest point overnight, be spared. Sneed said that but it was still rising when was on the Corps radar as made decisions Sneed arrived at the office they throughout the day, but didMonday morning. “It was very disappointing n’t change their operations. The to see we Corps’ leadhad not ership crested, but believe the also to get actions of the news of their team (the Opryduring the land) levee,” 48-hour he said. “It storm that bothered me dumped a when it haprecord 13 pened. I was inches at the in Nashville in 1975 (last BOB SNEED, Nashville time OpryArmy Corps Airport, and in land got of Engineers more some places, flooded). I lessened the wasn’t a Corps employee. I remem- possible damage. They held the Percy Priest ber when that happened.” Dam level above 444 feet, the top of the dam, from Dam releases necessary near late Monday until late measuring As the floodwaters contin- Thursday, ued to pour over the banks releases to minimize probof the Cumberland in down- lems downstream, they said. “You’re talking about contown Nashville on Monday, releases versus the Corps’ work was not trolled done. The water kept rising uncontrolled releases,” said at J. Percy Priest Dam, reach- Lt. Col. Anthony P. Mitchell. ing 504.01 feet by 6 p.m. “You run a serious threat to Monday as the water crested the population when you that same hour in Nashville have uncontrolled releases. Uncontrolled releases could at 51.86 feet. City and state officials have resulted in about an were anxious throughout additional four feet of water

in Nashville.” Flooding takes top priority, and protection of the dams to prevent whole communities from being crushed by the walls of water behind them is part of that. “I know that they have to release water when the dam overflows,” Alexander said Friday, on his way to Clarksville to see the damage there. “They have no choice. So I don’t find fault with the operations. We can look into it.” But he said he would like to see better information available that’s more accessible to a homeowner or businessperson worried about whether to move to high ground. Something more like the way tornadoes are tracked on television, radio and media websites. The Corps isn’t the one providing data for potential flooding. Those predictions, which change as factors changes, come from the River Forecast Center of the National Weather Service, using Corps water level information on the Cumberland, gauges and local reports on streams and creeks from trained volunteers and professionals. Rain forecasts are part of the modeling, too. From there media and

“The river was getting juiced — primed. There was a lot of water coming through the system.”

emergency management agencies take over, getting out the word. “Looking back, it went pretty well,” James LaRosa, a hydrologist with the weather service in Nashville said of the forecasts. “It’s pretty good but like any science, there’s certainly a little bit of uncertainty.” The Corps knows accusations and rumors are already afoot that it might have flooded people on purpose or failed in other ways that caused unnecessary damage downstream. In fact, the Corps is not sitting by idly while the talk festers. Their public affairs office is planning to include a link on its website for the public to ask about rumors or other questions they have about their actions during the flood. “The amount of rain was far more than what was forecasted and it landed in areas that weren’t really equipped to hold that,” Mitchell said. “There were a number of lives saved and a considerable amount of damage that was minimized. Public safety is our number one concern when operating those dams.” Brad Schrade can be reached at 615259-8086 or bshcrade@tennessean.com. Anne Paine can be reached at 615-2598071 or apaine@tennessean.com.


26A • SUNDAY, MAY 9, 2010

FLOOD OF 2010

THE TENNESSEAN

WEEK IN REVIEW

A week of destruction, despair & hope

Andrea Silva and Jamey Howell cling to Howell’s Jeep as floodwaters overtake the vehicle at the intersection of Saundersville Road and Lower Station Camp Creek Road in Gallatin. “They looked like they were struggling, and the next thing I know they were being swept away,” said Rick Murray of Hendersonville, who took this photo. “My head is spinning. I wish I hadn’t seen that.” The teenagers were later rescued downstream. RICK MURRAY / FOR THE TENNESSEAN

At the Grand Ole Opry House, water is now gone from the auditorium and backstage, but filth remains. CHRIS HOLLO

Janet Stone cleans mud off her father’s banjo in a creek near her destroyed home in Houston County, one of several places where residents were urged to boil their drinking water. SHELLEY MAYS / THE TENNESSEAN

Pennington Bend was a mess on Monday. Nearby Opry Mills Mall and the Grand Ole Opry House will need months to recover. SAMUEL SIMPKINS / THE TENNESSEAN

East Nashville resident James Bryant cries Thursday as he leaves his neighborhood via boat after seeing that everything in his home had been destroyed by floodwaters. JOHN PARTIPILO / THE TENNESSEAN


THE TENNESSEAN

FLOOD OF 2010

SUNDAY, MAY 9, 2010 • 27A

WEEK IN REVIEW

Singer Larry Gatlin performs at the Red Cross shelter at Lipscomb University for people displaced by the flood . JOHN PARTIPILO / THE TENNESSEAN

Volunteer Jimmy Lockridge rips up flooring at a home in the Cottonwood subdivision north of Franklin. JEANNE REASONOVER / THE TENNESSEAN

David Bers gives Betty Claxton of Brentwood a free hug before a Nashville Symphony concert Friday at Public Square in Nashville. Bers got the idea from the Free Hug Movement on YouTube.

SHELLEY MAYS / THE TENNESSEAN

Volunteers work a sandbag line at MetroCenter in Nashville as the Cumberland River rises Monday night. DIPTI VAIDYA / THE TENNESSEAN

Clare Banker yawns on the shoulder of her mother, Cindy, on Wednesday. Clare was born in a neighbor’s house Sunday when Cindy and her husband were trapped in their subdivision. STEVEN S. HARMAN / THE TENNESSEAN Shelli Huether dumps a bin of destroyed belongings out of a second-story window Saturday at the home of Jim Johnson on Floy Lane in Ashland City. The Johnsons had water as high as 4 feet on their second floor. JOSHUA ANDERSON / FOR THE TENNESSEAN


FLOOD OF 2010

28A • SUNDAY, MAY 9, 2010

THE TENNESSEAN

Thousands aid flood’s victims >> HELP FROM PAGE 21A

and taking all the wet stuff out. Then we will follow up spiritually and emotionally.” Twitter was alive with feeds Saturday — under the tag #NashvilleFlood — from people posting about how to help, sharing stories and impressing how much more aid could be offered. In Wilson County, residents were told they could donate cleaning supplies, toiletries and furniture at the Prime Outlets mall in Lebanon. Another tweet requested donations from Nashvillians for sledgehammers, wheelbarrows, crowbars and new clothing be brought to the Community Resource Center on Division Street from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday. A lot more skilled labor will be needed as Nashville and surrounding counties begin to rebuild. “Entire neighborhoods are just gone,” said Brian Williams, executive director for Hands On Nashville. “To rebuild those neighborhoods is going to take months.”

Need will continue Williams said donations are needed for masks, construction materials and nonperishable food. Hands On is working with many organizations, including the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, Goodwill and the Community Resource Center. “The needs will change as we go through the process,” Williams said. “We’ll just need to keep people interested in volunteering as they go back to work, they go back to school and they go back to their lives.” Thousands of volunteers turned out to help in Williamson County on Saturday. Hundreds of people drove into the community to find victims’ homes where they could offer to work. Easels with addresses told them where to go and what kind of work was

Search continues for teen rafter By Heidi Hall

THE TENNESSEAN

Hundreds of volunteers hand out free cases of water to flood victims in the parking lot of Antioch High School. Pockets of the hardest-hit communities came up for air to find an outpouring of help. MATT KRYGER / INDIANAPOLIS STAR required. Rising waters in that subdivision affected more than 100 homes, said Lonnie Castle, an association board member sometimes called the “unofficial mayor.” Castle estimated that there were more than 1,000 people volunteering in the area. Groups from Bethlehem United Methodist, Grassland Heights Baptist Church, Berry Chapel Road, Oasis and more were teeming at the command center and in homes. Nash Fleet said his family had to send away four groups of volunteers because their home had already been repaired. Fleet, 19, came home from Tennessee Tech as soon as he could to help his parents out. “I don’t know how to put it in words,” Fleet said. “I haven’t ever seen generosity like this. “It’s overwhelming and inspirational.” Tennessean reporter Maria Giordano contributed to this report.

The search continues for Iowa native Dan Brown, 18, who went missing in flooded Mill Creek on May 2 after riding on rafts with two friends. Deputy Chief Kim Lawson of the Nashville Fire Department said the department’s Urban Search and Rescue team met at 7 a.m. Saturday to continue the search for Brown. That search has included crews in a helicopter, in boats and on foot. “We still have two people missing, and it’s important to the people of this city that we find them,” Lawson said. Also missing is Danny Tomlinson, 39, of Pegram, last seen when his car ran into high water in Bellevue. Lawson said rescue team members have been searching for Brown since he was reported missing in the raging creek, although Brown’s parents and grandparents, who came from Iowa to look on their own, may not have been aware of that work. Even some officials searching later may not have known the full scope of what had been done, she said. Brown, a native of Springville, Iowa, came to Nashville to attend SAE Institute. Two classmates he went rafting with made it out of the creek alive.

Another death reported

Volunteers help tear up a wooden floor on Morton Mill Road on Saturday afternoon in the Riverside subdivision in Bellevue. MATT KRYGER / INDIANAPOLIS STAR

Also on Saturday, Tennessee emergency officials said they confirmed another death related to the floods. The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency said the death was in Tipton County in West Tennessee, raising the toll to 20. Another person was killed by a tornado on May 1, the first day of the storms. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

In the recent flooding our thoughts and prayers go out p y clean-up p and recovery. y to all of y you for a speedy

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The future of Five Oaks Golf & Country Club is brighter than ever, our golfing and social memberships continue to grow. Come be a part of this bright future while full memberships are available.

Five Oaks Golf & Country Club is located at 621 Five Oaks Blvd Lebanon, TN 37087

At Regions, we’re committed to doing our part to help spur economic recovery in our communities. Because we are a strong and stable company, guided by sound financial practices, we’re living up to that commitment.

Regions’ Lending: The Facts • The Small Business Administration has ranked Regions #3 in the U.S. in small business lending. • Regions made 166,639 new or renewed loan commitments totaling $65 billion to consumers and businesses in 2009. • Despite the economic environment, Regions has continued to deliver on its $100 billion, seven-year community development commitment. In less than three years, we have generated $47.3 billion in small business and community development loans and responsible mortgages for lowto moderate-income neighborhoods and borrowers.

Five Oaks is conveniently located 30 minutes from downtown Nashville and Murfreesboro, and 20 minutes from Nashville Airport and Gallatin.

• Our Customer Assistance Program has led to mortgage modification results that lead our industry. In fact, our foreclosure rate is less than half the national average. • While the government’s entire Home Affordable Modification program* has completed 66,000 permanent modifications industrywide, Regions, using our own program, has completed more than 10,000 permanent modifications for our customers.

Five Oaks Golf & Country Club offers • All-Inclusive Golf Membership • Unlimited Golf • Full golf cart privileges • No Greens Fees • Seven day advance tee times

In more than 870 cities in 16 states, Regions is working with individuals and businesses to provide responsible lending and no-nonsense expert advice every day. What’s more, during a challenging economic time, customer loyalty is at an all-time high, we’re attracting more new customers every day, and we’re achieving some of our highest service quality scores ever. Plus, Regions was recently named as “Highest in Customer Satisfaction Among Mortgage Servicing Companies” by J.D. Power and Associates. We are committed to the programs and initiatives we have in place because we are deeply committed to the success of our communities. It’s how we measure our own.

Middle Tennessee’s Best Kept Hidden Secret Five Oaks Golf & Country Club picturesque setting Exceptionally affordable with All-Inclusive dues Mention this ad and receive $250.00 off our one time initiation Spring Special good thru June 4, 2010

When our communities succeed, we succeed.

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Stop by a branch or visit regions.com/yes.

© 2010 Regions Bank. All loans and lines subject to credit approval. For home equity loans and lines of credit, Regions must receive a valid real estate lien. On loans and lines of credit in Texas, the lien must satisfy the requirements of Article XVI Section 50(a)(6) of the Texas Constitution. Regions Mortgage received the highest numerical score in the proprietary J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Primary Mortgage Servicer Study.SM Study based on 5,044 total responses measuring 22 lenders and measuring the satisfaction of consumers with their current mortgage servicer. Proprietary study results are based on experiences and perceptions of consumers surveyed in May 2009. Your experiences may vary. Visit jdpower.com. *As reported in the HAMP Service Performance Report.

• Complimentary range privileges • Full tennis, swimming and dining privileges • Full clubhouse privileges for meetings or events • Four day advance tennis court reservations • Numerous Social events

No coun other offer try club ame s so ma nitie ny a low s at such price .

Contact Sherry Lester, Membership Director 615.444.2784 or via email lester@five-oaks.com www.five-oaks.com


FLOOD OF 2010

THE TENNESSEAN

SUNDAY, MAY 9, 2010 • 29A

ACROSS THE REGION

Counties work to restore services, estimate damage By Juanita Cousins THE TENNESSEAN

Here is an update on the flood damage in Middle Tennessee counties:

Davidson County By noon Saturday, Davidson County’s water supplies were at 67 percent of usual capacity, but officials still called for conservation. Updated figures on the damage estimate and damaged infrastructures will be released Monday. Three thousand customers remain without power, but students will return to classes Monday. Davidson County residents are asked to report flood damage to http:// maps.nashville.gov/damage. There is also a “Report Flood Damage” link in the left hand column of the Nashville.gov/flood site.

Cheatham County Schools will reopen Wednesday, but there will be no school for the rest of the year at Kingston Springs Elementary, Pegram Elementary, Harpeth Middle and Harpeth High, the region where the worst damage occurred. Power was still out in some places on Friday. Only River Road Utility, which services about 1,000 customers in the River Road and Sams Creek areas, still had problems with water and sewage Saturday.

across La Vergne, Smyrna and Murfreesboro where standing water still has some roads closed.

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EMA director Mike Thompson said he would not release the number of structures damaged and the estimated costs of damages until his crew finished their assessment. Damage to government buildings, homes and businesses ranged from a few inches of water to complete submersion, Thompson said. Schools reopened last week.

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Montgomery County

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Montgomery County spokeswoman Elizabeth Black said crews were working Saturday to reopen Riverside Drive by today. Some residential roads remain covered in water. Crews assessed properties but had not compiled damage figures. The few homes and businesses without power were being inspected. Public schools will reopen Monday.

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Wilson County

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County officials have documented 448 damaged homes and have not priced the extent of damage in Lebanon, Statesville and Mount Juliet. Schools are open. Power and water haven’t been problems, said Emergency Management Agency Director John Jewell.

Rutherford County

Sumner County

Rutherford County encouraged residents to register damage with emergency operations centers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. “FEMA checks with local officials to make sure there is a record of a victim’s house, and if they aren’t on record, it could delay their relief,” said Rutherford County Emergency Management Agency Director Roger Allen. Rutherford incurred $19 million in damages to infrastructure. Some 403 homes were damaged and 14 homes destroyed. Power and water have been restored. Water damage is spread

Floods caused $35 million in damage, destroying 65 Hendersonville homes and 12 businesses. In Gallatin, 100 homes and 40 businesses were damaged. “The flood was just overwhelming,” Sumner County Emergency Management Director Ken Weidner said. “By Monday, it covered the entire county. I’ve never seen anything like that, and I hope I never do again.” As of Friday, power had been restored to all Sumner homes but one in Gallatin, according to utility companies in the area.

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Gannett Tennessee reporters Tim Adkins, Tena Lee, Dessislava Yankova and Sarah Kingsbury contributed to this report.

GETTING HELP ■ United Way’s 211 service can connect callers with roughly 7,000 programs in Middle Tennessee that offer assistance with food, clothing and shelter, among others. Call 211. ■ For those who need help with flooding, including a ride to a shelter, Metro has a hot line, 862-8574. ■ Call 911 in an emergency. ■ Flooding victims can also call the Red Cross at 2504300 to find help.

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Search FLOOD for a resource guide to find aid for victims and ways to volunteer or donate to help.

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30A • SUNDAY, MAY 9, 2010

Flooded Grand Ole Opry House stage entrance

THE TENNESSEAN

Flooded Cascades Atrium inside Gaylord Opryland Resort

n the past week, we have experienced a natural disaster of epic proportions, with the Grand Ole Opry House and Gaylord Opryland Resort taking the brunt of the blow. The flood waters may have damaged our physical surroundings, but they have certainly not drenched the care and compassion of this great community. And as the waters recede, they will continue to reveal the stories of friends helping one another, neighbors helping neighbors, and the undying love of this legendary city. Gaylord Entertainment would like to express special thanks to our STARS (employees), business partners, and all the hard work of our neighbors in the greater Nashville area. We are not only committed to rebuilding our buildings but also to helping lead a revival of our community. Our city and our company will emerge better and stronger. Indeed, the challenge will define us in the way it unites us all. Because, after all, as Mother Maybelle Carter sang in her iconic, inspiring musical tribute, The Circle will remain “Unbroken…by and by, Lord, by and by.”

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The Tennessean's Flood of 2010 coverage