Today I went out and did a little surveying of the damage caused by the flood here in Clarksville, and it is indeed impressive, in a terrifying way. Normally harmless little ponds have grown into home-destroying monsters. The usually narrow Cumberland River has overtaken not only the Riverwalk, but Riverside Drive and several business and parking lots on the other side of the road. Dozens of roads have been shut down, and dozens (if not hundreds) of homes and businesses have been, if not totally destroyed, then at least damaged – from leaking roofs to total flooding.
Two things struck me about this experience. The first is that as humans, we sometimes forget the awesome power that Mother Nature possesses, and how quickly she can unleash that power without warning. Last night, I drove down Riverside, and only the Riverwalk was underwater. In just 12 short hours (probably less), the whole road was covered and businesses were being evacuated and shut down. In Nashville, one of the city’s historic landmarks, the Opryland Hotel, is being occupied by 8-10 feet of standing water. We had little, if any, warning about what was going to happen. Since this rain was not part of a hurricane, we suspected nothing – but in just 2 short days, we accumulated 14 inches of rain. The sewage treatment plant has been shut down, which means that raw sewage will soon be pouring into the Cumberland. Since everyone gets their drinking water from the Cumberland, people are concerned about the safety of the drinking water. We have been assured that the water quality is fine, but I don’t know how much I trust that pronouncement. All the flooding has caused millions of dollars in damage to homes, businesses, roads, and government buildings, most of which has yet to even be assessed because the waters are still rising slightly. It may be a couple of weeks before insurance companies can come in and assess the damage.
The second thing that stood out to me about this flood is how easily people went on about their daily lives. We are using detours to get around flooded roads. We are going to the grocery store, to work, to look at the damage on Riverside, and to go and do other everyday things. For the people whose homes and businesses were not affected, it is so easy for us to underestimate the extent of the flood damage and to ignore or overlook the sorrow that this has surely caused many people who have lost all their worldly possessions, or worse, loved ones. It is important for us to not forget these people – to pray for them, to keep them in our thoughts, and to volunteer to help them if we are able.
The local paper, The Leaf-Chronicle, has posted a gallery of photos that show the damage on Riverside. Indeed a powerful reminder of how fragile we are in the face of natural disasters. This is a link to it: