2 thoughts on “Chapter 16 and The Flood

  1. On Sunday night, May 2, Catherine Mayhew watched live helicopter aerials along with the banks of the Cumberland River. The Executive Director of Nashville’s Community Resource Center waited to see if her warehouse full of materials for distribution to the poor was flooded. An hour later, she knew the worst: CRC was five feet underwater and the river was still rising — over a warehouse full of items for distribution to dozens of Middle Tennessee charities: packing cases of toilet paper; personal hygiene products from soap to toothbrushes; a thousand dollars worth of backpacks bought only the week before, for distribution to underprivileged kids.
    With the rain still falling, Mayhew and her partner Betsy Everett get busy. They know the charities that depend on CRC can’t wait, and there’s suddenly a whole new group of needy people in Middle Tennessee. The two women make voluminous lists of the tasks ahead –from getting the telephone and fax services rerouted, to notifying the post office to hold the mail for pickup. A mold remediation specialist is standing by to clean out the warehouse as soon as the flood waters recede. Email and telephone checks to their client nonprofit agencies: Were you flooded? How bad is the damage? What do you need?
    By mid-day Thursday, after working the phones furiously and relying on the phenomenal kindness of friends and strangers, the two women secure a partnership with Hands On Nashville to collect and distribute in-kind donations. They find temporary warehouse space on dry ground in which to store the contributions and get a blessing from Mayor Karl Dean’s office to proceed with distribution. Donations began to roll in – a tractor-trailer load of hygiene supplies; bottled water; baby blankets. A furniture store owner calls to offer to donate lamps. A kid who needs to complete his community service for his probation wants to load and unload trucks.
    By late Thursday, CRC is back in business at a new location, taking from those who are able to give, and giving to those who need.
    On Friday afternoon, an emotional trip back to the CRC warehouse. The smell of mud and decay permeates the building. A volunteer IT expert removes the hard drives from CRC’s sodden computers to try to save the organization’s data. Paper files are packed in plastic trash bags; maybe they’ll dry out. The remediation expert says he’ll begin bulldozing out the building on Monday. Catherine is able to salvage only the charger for her Ipod. Betsy finds her favorite photo of her daughter buried under the sopping rubble of her overturned desk.
    A natural disaster devastates homes and businesses, but it need not devastate the people who live and work in them. Catherine Mayhew and Betsy Everett aren’t going to let a little thing like a thousand-year flood stop them from fulfilling their mission. I’m proud to know them both.

Comments are closed.