Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Our city has suffered what they’re calling “the flood of the century,” or even a “500-year event, and neighbors a block away from our home have had their homes destroyed, but because I can’t communicate in the usual ways, I’m using this way to let our friends know we are okay. So here is our personal saga.

We got home on Friday afternoon. The rains started that night. By the time they stopped Sunday night, our neighborhood had had fifteen inches. Sunday morning we awaited news that church had been cancelled; that happened just as I walked into the sanctuary. On our way home, we saw places where flooding had begun, but not horrendously. Less than an hour after we got home, the power went out. Not surprising. Surely it would come back on before too long. No power meant no Internet, and for us it meant no phones.

That afternoon we wondered why cars and people seemed to be gathering at the foot of our side street, so we walked down to see. We were appalled to discover that the neighborhood just around the corner from us was flooded—seriously with water as high as the tops of garage doors. A brick mailbox had only the top foot showing. Oh, my! Our son, seven miles away, wanted to know how many more feet until it reached us. We estimated twenty vertical feet and maybe fifty horizontal feet.

Also that afternoon, we learned that our substation was flooded and all roads into and out of our neighborhood were cut off—including I-40, our local link to town, our son, our church. Oh, my! Time to dust off some of our decades-old Jungle Camp skills. That afternoon during a break in the rain, I got out our iron skillet and started making granola on our patio grill. Before it was finished, my husband had to hold an umbrella over me; it was raining again.

With plenty of candles, we got through the evening, and we slept well that night. No TV, no music, no computer … but that was okay---for a while at least. Blackest night -- We woke up Monday morning to heavy fog that in a couple of hours changed to sunshine. Had granola for breakfast. The waters started receding except for the Cumberland that goes through downtown Nashville. Receding waters were still pouring into it.

That afternoon word came that I-40 was open, so we took the laptop and went to town. The kids’ soccer field was not just flooded but a lake, with less than half the roof of the concessions stand showing. At our son’s (they never lost power), I tried to get on the Internet—but he wasn’t there to give me his password. He and his kids were out somewhere helping flood victims. I was proud of them. Eventually, he was able to call home (his cell isn’t working either), and I got the password. Checked e-mail. Caught my sister on IM and caught her up on our situation.

Despite an invitation to stay, we returned home; that was where our pets and our life were. Radio was saying the power outage would be two or three days, so we were shocked when it came on at 8 Monday evening. Whoopee!! Internet! E-mail! Telephone! But those were not to be. It wasn’t until today, Tuesday, that it became clear that AT&T is one of the places flooded in downtown Nashville. When we’ll get phones and Internet back in anyone’s guess.

Life without communication? I’ve done it—in the jungles of southern Mexico all those years ago. But our life there was geared for it. My life here and now is not. I’m most grateful we have power, but being incommunicado is hard for me—harder than for my husband. Communicating is what I do. It is who I am. As a teacher in one capacity or another for the last forty-five years, I’ve communicated. As a writer and editor, I communicate. Communication is ninety-five percent of my work for the mission.
I’ve found this temporary way around it. I’ve written this on my computer at home—yes, with power this computer works, and I can write. I’ll put it on a flash drive and take it to our son’s and send it from there.

Hopefully. But I’m humbly and soberly counting my blessings because at least a quarter (maybe a third) of the homes in our part of town had water to their ceilings and are facing loss and cleanup like I can’t even imagine.

At least this will give our friends the word that we are fine—even if we are incommunicado.

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