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>Reception Postponed!


There’s a reason I’ll never venture to California.  Some might think I’m crazy, but I swear, I have this intuitive knowledge that if I ever set foot there, “The Big One” will hit.  I’m talking the earthquake that’s predicted that will send (hopefully not really) California into the ocean when it hits.  It’s just my sorta luck.

Ironically, though it wasn’t forecast, the same can be said for “The Thousand Year Flood,” that struck Nashville the weekend of my Art Show Reception at The Mad Platter.  I know it’s not all about me, in fact, I feel so very fortunate that we didn’t suffer any loss or damage due to the flooding that took place.  But, yes, the Army Corps of Engineers calls it a “Thousand Year Flood” occurrence since it so far surpassed flooding predicted even for 500 year flood plains!

The several days after the flooding were basically spent regaining normalcy here in Middle Tennessee.  Several tragedies struck, including loss of several lives, countless homes, and even significant damage to major landmarks including the Grand Ole Opry, Opryland Hotel, Downtown Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame, the Schermerhorn Symphony Hall, and more.  It was tragic and devastating and the outside world didn’t seem to realize the magnitude of the 12-24 inches of rainfall we here in Middle Tennessee experienced in less than 30 hours because nothing happens in a vacuum.

My Mad Platter art show reception had to be postponed and as disappointed as I am, this is not about me, or the show, but about an entire culture and way of life!  We’re a resilient people and of course, can and will rebuild, but the loss of cultural treasures and property is great.  Nashville’s Mayor Purcell estimates damage will exceed $1.5 billion.  The Opryland Hotel, with it’s 2900 rooms, will not reopen until October or later, according to official sources. The tourism industry will take a great hit, and at a time when our country doesn’t need an additional financial burden of this sort, FEMA will have to lay out funding to cover the damages of 27 Tennessee Counties which were declared Federal Disaster Areas.

I’m still just stunned that so much water could fall in such a short amount of time.  Sure, there was flash flooding predicted, but they were expecting what, four inches of rainfall?  Just shocking in its enormity.  And the speed with which it took place.  I recognize we were very fortuante, Bindy and I… The closure of I-24 did take one life.  A woman was stuck in her car as the highway flooded ever more and cars were unable to move in the traffic jam.  And a waiter from the restaurant where we stopped for lunch, returning home on foot after his shift, drowned in the floodwaters leaving behind two young sons. The tragedies all around us remind me how very fortunate we were.  Postponement of my art show’s reception was nothing in the grand scheme of things.

Thankfully, now, a week later, the rivers have receded to below flood stage and my reception has been rescheduled.  Bindy won’t be able to come back this time, and that’s a huge bummer.  But on the other hand, Nashville is back from the brink and the destruction is behind us.

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>Reception Eve Excitement!

>It’s all taken care of, all we have to do is show up, but there’s been some real drama here, caused by Mother Nature that may still cause problems. 

We’ve bought wine and other beverages expecting some 60-75 people and The Mad Platter is ready with catered food for that size.  Today, after enjoying the pitter patter of rain falling on the studio rooftop, Bindy (who flew down for the event) and I headed to the other side of Nashville to pick up Giclees we are selling at the show.  On the way, the car started hydroplaning because of all the rainfall we’ve had, so we pulled in and grabbed lunch halfway to our destination and consider our options.  Checking my IPhone’s radar screen, I figured we were more than halfway through the rainfall, reckoning the storm front moved directly west to east. 

As we exited the restaurant and got back on the road, we turned our car toward Brentwood, where the Giclees were waiting for our pickup.  Just then David called saying they were predicting far more rainfall than the six inches we’d already received and we might have to cancel the event.  Ignoring his advice to turn around, we had no choice a minute later as a roadblock was set up to prevent any cars from going further toward Brentwood.  We turned back, bummed, and headed for I-24 just as we saw a pumper firetruck pumping floodwater from right near the ramp we were about to enter.  A car was already flooded out there and I was thankful they cleared enough floodwater away for us to get up onto the interstate.

We headed back home recognizing the situation was getting bad.  It got worse.  We went six miles on the interstate when we hit another roadblock.  This time, the entire Eastbound direction of Interstate 24, a major thoroughfare between Nashville and Atlanta, was shut down.  It was closed at exit 64 in LaVergne because floodwater had risen too high at the point the highway passed under the exit road.  We were about 12-15 vehicles from the front and realized we had just missed getting through before they shut it down.  We waited there, in the far right lane, for some two hours, listening to the radio announce tornado warnings, other flooding incidents, and accidents too.  We talked to David who was listening to his scanner.  We posted a picture on facebook and went on waiting.  About 2-1/2 hours into our “parking lot” wait, we turned and followed a few cars who were riding on the shoulder.  We had no clue where they were going but heard a rumor of a construction site and dirt road off the exit that would take one to a side road.  Good enough for us to try it.  As we got closer, I lost confidence.  There was a minivan stuck in the increasingly muddy passageway to the side road.  The mud was getting thicker with each vehicle that treked through it and my Ford Escape had poor wheels for this kinda riding.  Bindy urged me on.  I drove through, nonstop and only exhaled once I’d gotten to the side road.  We made it!   We managed to follow this side road and get back onto the interstate on the other side of the closed exit ramp. 

On we drove.  For another six miles until reaching our exit.  There, we saw more lights, diverted traffic.  Fortunately, my home is only 1/2 mile off the exit, so I knew we could walk it if we had to.  We could not turn toward home as the underpass was flooded and a truck that’d tried it earlier was stuck there already.  We pulled into the friendly McDonalds, selected a booth near the windows to see if there was any change in the situation and waited.  I had heard all the side roads were closed or closing in our town and knew it would be near impassable so gave up, thinking we’d have to stay the night at the cheap hotel nearby. 

Bindy would have none of it though and I suggested we scale the underpass wall to get to the other side.  It looked very dangerous and instead, we hit the steakhouse and awaiting Margaritas.  After talking to other locals stuck in a similar situation, we got our courage up and decided to go SouthEast on the highway to the next exit and turn around and try to get a back way home.  By the time we got to the ramp it, too was closed, as was the Eastbound highway even here now.  In the end, we parked the car at the McDonald’s, and pocketing my IPhone and carkeys, we hiked across the Eastbound highway.  Traffic was still moving westbound and Bindy, who was wearing flip flops, had to take them off as it was clear we were going to have to run across the three lanes of highway traffic.  And it was coming!  No clear breaks in flow, but we managed it, screaming as we did.  I’m sure the sherriff’s boys, parked at the Westbound Exit ramp to prevent unsuspecting travelers from trying to get off, thought we were idiots.  But we made it across.  We walked down to the base of the exit ramp and found ourselves standing in 30 inches of water.  At this point there was nothing to do but laugh.

So, we did.  Knee-slapping, tears rolling down our cheeks, we laughed our asses off!  It was just too deep to risk going further into the water, so we had to climb.  Up rocks, over brush, and through puddles of sludge and more, we made our way only to be halted by barbed wire.  We edged around it to a break and walked through to the interstate gas station on “our side” of the highway.  Phew!  I called David from there and he met us in an unflooded parking area right nearby. 

Now, I’m sitting here reflecting over a very eventful day, cozy and clean after a warm, soapy shower, glass of wine, and, after having seen some of the TV footage, a deep appreciation for Mother Nature’s fury!