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Nashville...Waterline?
May 4, 2010 1:21 PM   Subscribe

The Middle Tennessee region, including Nashville, is experiencing extensive flooding after weekend storms dropped a record-breaking 13-15 inches of rain over the weekend.

The Cumberland river exceeded flood stage by more than 10 feet, flooding the downtown Nashville riverfront and one (and nearly both) of the city's two water treatment plants.

Numerous Nashville landmarks have experienced water damage including:

- The colossal Opryland Hotel, where 1500 guests were evacuated Sunday night. The 2800 room resort was covered by 10-19 feet of water in places and is expected to be shut down for months.
- The Grand Ole Opry House
- The almost-brand-new Schermerhorn Symphony Center
- The Country Music Hall of Fame
- LP Field (home of the NFL's Tennessee Titans)
- Bridgestone Arena (home of the NHL's Nashville Predators)

There have been 29 confirmed deaths so far across the South

U.S. Representative Jim Cooper (Tennessee's 5th district) has speculated that flood damages could reach the multi-billion dollar level.

Some image galleries
posted by ghharr (92 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Great post, thanks. This is a 100-year event for us here. It's been surreal. What surprises me is that the media attention paid to it beyond the state line seems to be modest at best.
posted by blucevalo at 1:27 PM on May 4, 2010


I'm from Murfreesboro TN but my mother lives in Nashville these days. I was relieved as hell when she called me to say she and her house were Ok. Please consider donating money to help with this devastating event.
posted by josher71 at 1:28 PM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I couldn't find any estimates but it's also pretty clear that hundreds, if not thousands of homes were also flooded and very few Middle Tennessee home owners had flood insurance.

blucevalo: I agree about the national media coverage, that's partly why I made the post.
posted by ghharr at 1:29 PM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's been fascinating to me how little national media attention this is getting. Only today have the big cable networks started focusing on what has been a crisis for several days now. The pictures and stories out of that area are heartbreaking.
posted by something something at 1:29 PM on May 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


On a lighter note, is it too soon to mention the Nashville Weather Penis?
posted by ifjuly at 1:33 PM on May 4, 2010 [7 favorites]


And his redder, angrier looking brother in Memphis.
posted by ifjuly at 1:35 PM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Weather Penis? Yeah, Nashville's fucked.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:36 PM on May 4, 2010


Oh, dear. Is it "Heckuva job" time again?
posted by codswallop at 1:41 PM on May 4, 2010


I'm no scientist. But I'm guessing that these "100-year" events are about to become "10-year" events.
posted by ofthestrait at 1:47 PM on May 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Of course, the fun's just beginning. This incredible pulse of water is going to bring excitement all the way down the Mississippi.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 1:51 PM on May 4, 2010


No mention of the Giant Fish that someone wrassled out of the water.
posted by delmoi at 1:53 PM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


and very few Middle Tennessee home owners had flood insurance.

This is interesting:

Cumberland River Historical Crests
(1) 56.20 ft on 01/01/1929
(2) 55.30 ft on 01/22/1882
(3) 54.90 ft on 12/19/1847
(4) 54.00 ft on 01/01/1808
(5) 53.90 ft on 01/26/1937
(6) 53.10 ft on 03/12/1826
(7) 53.00 ft on 03/01/1815
(8) 52.20 ft on 03/01/1862
(9) 52.10 ft on 03/10/1865
(10) 51.20 ft on 03/13/1867

On Monday it crested at 51.86'

All the homes that were destroyed - is memory really so short? In 1929 the water was 5 feet higher!
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 1:54 PM on May 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


A lot of the flooding damage was from smaller tributaries of the Cumberland such as the Harpeth River.
posted by ghharr at 1:56 PM on May 4, 2010


Yeah, this has been really hard to watch and the lack of national coverage at the time was really disappointing. Here in Murfreesboro (just southeast of Nashville), we managed to avoid the worst of it, but schools have been closed and two universities (Tennessee State University and Middle Tennessee State University) canceled finals on Monday.

The news folks had the head of the Schermerhorn on yesterday and he mentioned that part of the reason his building was flooding was because neighboring buildings were pumping water out and right into the streets which caused way more flooding.

The lack of flood insurance is going to be devastating throughout the region and this may be the nail in the coffin for many individuals and companies.
posted by teleri025 at 1:57 PM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I saw it on AskMe first.
posted by idiopath at 1:59 PM on May 4, 2010


Correct me if I'm wrong, but I seem to remember hearing recently that there has been an increase of 15% in the presence of water vapor in our atmosphere, something which would apparently relsult in more - and heavier - rainfall. Certainly the Nashville rains (underreported, yeah, as mentioned above) doubling the previous record is noteworthy. Well, predictions are guesses, but that rain was pretty real and pretty wet.
posted by kozad at 2:00 PM on May 4, 2010


infinitefloatingbrains, remember, in 1929 none of the dams that regulate these rivers were built and a large amount of Tennessee's river managment has been controlled quite well by these dams. Also, the population growth that the area went through in the late 1990s caused a great number of homes to be built in areas that were not inhabited back then.

We got three months of rain practically in less than 24 hours. Flood insurance is really not something you think you need in the middle of a city, blocks and blocks away from any water source.
posted by teleri025 at 2:00 PM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


teleri025 - That makes sense - it would be interesting to know just how much higher the water would have been without the dams.
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 2:05 PM on May 4, 2010


The media coverage of this has been asbolutely atrocious. For example: this was the best Keith Olberman could do the other night. I'm sorry, but after the thousands of hours the news spent harping on Michael Jackson's death last summer, a minute and a half to say "hey, I'm sorry we can't actually cover this billion dollar disaster" is just not enough, and in fact comes off as super condescending to me.

I spent three hours trying to read up on this last night. This morning Redstate has a pissy post about how Obama hasn't said anything about the flooding yet - but to be fair, so far most people have been ignoring it. Last night, wikinews still had the Kentucky Derby winner up on the front page but nothing on the flood, and salon had a series of really devestating photos but no articles. Andrew Sullivan - whose generally pretty good about offering up a post about the major news stories of the day - said nothing yesterday, and his post on it today was readers writing in to say "why hasn't this been covered?" One of the two water treatment plants in Nashville is underwater and they are facing a shortage of potable water and yet I only know this because of my friends and family that still live there. Between the number of people dead, the size of the damage and the ongoing nature of the crisis you'd think it would be worth more attention - but I guess not.

I understand that there are other big news stories right now, but that car bomb in Times Square? It didn't go off; on a basic level, that's a non event. Why is that still getting focus? Because there's someone to blame? I read in one report - don't know if this has been verified - but that possibly up to fifty schools have been flooded. One incompetently constructed and properly defused bomb has been getting far more attention than fifty devastated schools. It's fucking ludicrous.
posted by Kiablokirk at 2:11 PM on May 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


No mention of the Giant Fish that someone wrassled out of the water.

That's not a giant river fish. That's a giant river fish.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:13 PM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've been in Nashville twice in the last year. The thought of it being under water, having extensive water damage and loss of life is heartbreaking. For those of you from the area, how is Broadway holding up? I can't imagine Tootsies going away because of some water.
posted by Kskomsvold at 2:13 PM on May 4, 2010


I live in Nashville; relatively new to the area - always lived in big cities = San Francisco/London and have been absolutely shocked at the lack of national media coverage.

I live within sight of downtown - my street is flooded and if you drive a minute away you can see the large parts of the downtown are underwater.

I was in the Bay Area during the '89 quake and this is not dissimilar at all in terms of damage - if this had had been San Francisco then we'd be on cable 24/7, cover of Time etc. - yet, there's almost nothing being reported - this happened on Sunday folks.
posted by jettloe at 2:15 PM on May 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


This morning Redstate has a pissy post about how Obama hasn't said anything about the flooding yet

It's all "states rights" and "smaller government" until things go all pear-shaped and then everyone suddenly want the fuckin' president to get his wallet out.
posted by GuyZero at 2:15 PM on May 4, 2010 [21 favorites]


It's all "states rights" and "smaller government" until things go all pear-shaped and then everyone suddenly want the fuckin' president to get his wallet out.

Or, y'know, they want him held to the same standard as presidents past. Anyhow, even just saying something, while useless, would at least show some level of vague concern that wouldn't even cost a dime.

I wonder who TN went for in 2008....
posted by codswallop at 2:21 PM on May 4, 2010


For those of you from the area, how is Broadway holding up?

Broadway is a disaster. I'm not kidding.
posted by blucevalo at 2:22 PM on May 4, 2010


I live in Clarksville on top of a hill overlooking the river and have been watching this simultaneously amazing and horrifying event over a couple of days. In fact, I just got done from making the rounds, on foot-- the major intersection down the hill from me is more than six feet underwater, and the current is so strong there are white water trails as it swirls around lampposts. There's only one way into and out of town still open... the Significant Other(tm) and I made a trip to Kroger on foot with hiking packs on to stock up yesterday, and we were moving appreciably faster than the cars. Every case of bottled water is gone and people are taking anything that will keep when the power goes out.

Just yesterday I sat on the hill overlooking the river and watched police herding people out of the rising floodwaters in their businesses on Riverside Drive. Now only the tops of those buildings are visible. I feel bad for not feeling worse for these people, but in so many ways the flood is just beautiful-- you can hear birds everywhere, the water is already full of minnows and tadpoles and herons and dragonflies, and I hear a car go past my apartment on the normally busy street outside maybe once an hour. At the same time, it's difficult to imagine all these businessmen and home owners that I kind of got to know in my four years here have lost virtually everything. The Rhino Mart parking lot where I had my first cigarette is gone. The River Walk, full of the brilliantly colored graffiti done by friends in the dark of night, is completely obliterated, only the tops of the trees visible. Yesterday my flatmates and I were helping move auto parts to the top shelves and evacuating animals from a shelter. Now we're boiling our drinking water and sincerely hoping the waters don't rise high enough to destroy the beautiful old graveyard down the hill where we've spent so much our time.

Pictures say it better than words.
posted by WidgetAlley at 2:22 PM on May 4, 2010 [9 favorites]


the media can't be bothered to escape the echo chamber, especially for something so depressing.
posted by the aloha at 2:26 PM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wonder who TN went for in 2008....

McCain, by large margins, but Nashville and all of Davidson County was heavily Obama. Not that it matters.

It's all "states rights" and "smaller government" until things go all pear-shaped and then everyone suddenly want the fuckin' president to get his wallet out.

Holy shit, how about some human compassion, red state or not.
posted by blucevalo at 2:26 PM on May 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


I have lots of compassion for actual people, I have limited compassion for whiny pundits.
posted by GuyZero at 2:29 PM on May 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


blucevalo: "how about some human compassion"

I took that as more a response to the "Obama doesn't care about white people" trolling by pundits who are anti federal government until its expedient, rather than a dis on the people getting flooded. And on that note, unlike with Bush and Nola, it isn't like Obama was in charge of shoddy infrastructural decisions that exacerbated this problem.
posted by idiopath at 2:31 PM on May 4, 2010


Between the number of people dead, the size of the damage and the ongoing nature of the crisis you'd think it would be worth more attention - but I guess not.

I'm glad other people are wondering about this, not just me. Nashville just doesn't register as an actual real physical place to many people who aren't from around these parts, I don't think. It may register as a place where "all them country music folks are, yeehaw" but beyond that, I really don't think it registers to outsiders as a place with an identity, in the way that some other cities do.

I do know for damn sure that the I-35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis in 2007 got way more coverage and attention than this multi-county statewide disaster has gotten.
posted by blucevalo at 2:33 PM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have lots of compassion for actual people, I have limited compassion for whiny pundits.

I took that as more a response to the "Obama doesn't care about white people" trolling by pundits who are anti federal government until its expedient, rather than a dis on the people getting flooded.


Point taken, and I apologize to you both. I'm a little raw, I guess.
posted by blucevalo at 2:35 PM on May 4, 2010


No need to apologize dude. Getting flooded is pretty awful. But at least nature is impartial in its actions. People looking to score cheap political points on the back of human suffering have no such excuses.
posted by GuyZero at 2:39 PM on May 4, 2010


Also, if you are interested in helping us (and it's completely shocking to me that a natural disaster has happened that I, at the tender age of 21, can use the term "us" about), please consider donating to the Middle Tennessee Red Cross Flood Relief Fund. They have been just great about setting up shelters for Clarksville, Nashville and surrounding areas and helping out in any way they can. We really, really need it.
posted by WidgetAlley at 2:43 PM on May 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I spent part of the weekend on the phone with my brother, helping him figure out how to get water out of the basement of my childhood home as fast as possible. None of my family lives in Nashville anymore, but he's been there repairing the house so our mother can sell it. Fortunately for us, I guess, a river formed in the neighbor's yard and carried the worst of it around the houses and into the street, where it continued to funnel down the hill. We might get away with just losing the central heat & air unit.

Facebook has let me follow things from afar much more closely than I otherwise would have. It seems that everybody I know there has had water in their houses. Some have over 6 feet of water in their living rooms.

The aerial photos of downtown are unbelievable. It used to be a bit of a walk from my high school down the river... Not anymore!

What's funny, though, is that of the last few times I've been able to spend time in Nashville, once was in the summer of 2005. My mother had just finished a degree at Tulane and was biding her time before leaving the country for temporary work. She was contemplating leaving everything she owned in storage in NOLA, figuring she could get it when she got back and move it to wherever she ended up (which turned out to be across the country). My brother had some ridiculously prescient advice at the time: move it back to Nashville. NOLA is going to flood. So, on the basis of his clairvoyant advice, we rented a truck and were spared any losses in Katrina.

The next time I was in Nashville was during a long, 100 degree drought that had battered the city into enforcing water restrictions. I was on a restaurant patio watching an old friend play with his band when it suddenly started pouring rain. We couldn't have been happier. We jumped up and screamed and ran into the street and then went back to sit and finish our beers. Soaked, but happy.

For some perspective, 13 inches is about 25% of the average annual rainfall for Nashville.

And yes, the media coverage has been horrendous, which is a little strange, because of all the shit that's been labeled Obama's Katrina, this seems like the best candidate yet! I kid. But really, where are you, media?
posted by dsword at 2:48 PM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wait until the Wolf Creek Dam goes. (shudder)
posted by jquinby at 3:04 PM on May 4, 2010


What surprises me is that the media attention paid to it beyond the state line seems to be modest at best.

You're competing against two stories that are much easier to score political points off of. But seriously, good luck.
posted by Evilspork at 3:12 PM on May 4, 2010


Very moody and beautiful video someone made (with music) depicting the flooding.
posted by critzer at 3:40 PM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Obama has declared Nashville a disaster area and has issued a statement regarding the situation.

Granted as a die hard Obama supporter, I would have liked him to say something on Sunday or yesterday, but I also understand that to most of this country Nashville and the surrounding area isn't someplace you think about.
posted by teleri025 at 3:45 PM on May 4, 2010


It has been some kind of disaster... I drove down to the Farmer's Market today and it was still surrounded by the flood.

If you're interested in following on twitter, Nashvillest gives extensive updates as well as ways anyone can help out.
posted by SarahElizaP at 3:49 PM on May 4, 2010


I wished there were more coverage too, but I had assumed that the media's Very Bad News organs were all at work on the Gulf disaster. As someone who used to live in Nashville, with lots of family in Tennessee, but also lots of family in Mississippi, I'm going to have to watch history decide which was worse.

.
posted by Countess Elena at 3:57 PM on May 4, 2010


There's a flooded Naval Base in Tennessee? OK, it's a Naval Air Base, but still, "flooded Tennessee Naval base" was not one of the things I ever expected to read about.
posted by GuyZero at 3:58 PM on May 4, 2010


I understand that there are other big news stories right now, but that car bomb in Times Square? It didn't go off; on a basic level, that's a non event. Why is that still getting focus?
Keep in mind that everything that happens in NYC is going to get a lot of media coverage, that's where most news organizations are based.
I was in the Bay Area during the '89 quake and this is not dissimilar at all in terms of damage - if this had had been San Francisco then we'd be on cable 24/7, cover of Time etc. - yet, there's almost nothing being reported - this happened on Sunday folks.
When Cedar Rapids and Iowa city flooded a couple years ago, it was all over the national news.

The difference is that there is also another major disaster underway at the moment.
posted by delmoi at 4:08 PM on May 4, 2010


The month of May record for the city (11.03 inches in 1983, I remember that month) was broken by the second of May. I grew up there, and my parents and one brother still live there. My brother was stuck in his house until last night, my mother still can't get to her house, the bottom of the road is under the Harpeth River. It's been amazing to see photos and videos of places I know so well inundated, places that I'd never imagined the possibility of being flooded. A friend of the family has a wood shop that is his livelihood near the Harpeth in Bellevue, it's pretty far from the river and well above it, but he had four feet of water in his shop. All of the new houses across the river at Riverwalk were underwater, I saw it in a video shot from a news helicopter yesterday. That whole crappy mall we went to to see that shitty Avatar movie on IMAX is underwater. I saw a fucking mobile home floating into a semi on the interstate.
The coverage does seem very lacking (the NY Times website has nothing about it on the front page right now). I think people come to expect to see images of catastrophic flooding on television every year; but can anyone tell me how often something of this scale hits a large metropolitan city over most of its area?
posted by Red Loop at 4:09 PM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


This was the top story on CNN this morning. It took a day longer than it should have for the major media outlets to pick up on it - but it was a pretty busy news weekend, yeah? I mean ... there was an attempted bombing in Times Square and possibly the worst oil spill in US history approaching land. These aren't soft stories.
posted by kanewai at 4:09 PM on May 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Pretty busy news weekend"

I see. Busy news weekend. That must be why the New York Times still doesn't have room for even a mention of 29 deaths due to flooding on their front page.

Oh wait. Actually it got bumped because a "Lacrosse Player Admitted Shaking Woman."
posted by dsword at 4:35 PM on May 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


It was the top story for a while on the NY Times' site...and I think that was on Sunday. As an expat Nashvillian living in NYC I don't think the coverage was especially sparse, at least on the Web. As serious as it certainly is for some people this is not a Katrina-level event.

I *was* surprised to see that the Tennessean's Web site is so much better than the print edition, which has been awful for years and seems to keep getting worse.
posted by lackutrol at 4:42 PM on May 4, 2010


I'm so sorry for the tragic loss of life, and the very unfortunate losses of property, and the huge mess. We don't know if it's actual Global Climate Change, or just a Very Bad Event. I hope the President does open the wallet, offer help and do his usual competent job, for which he will get pissing, moaning and no appreciation.

So when does some Fundie preacher step up to blame it on Christian opposite-sex marriages, or blame Too Much Churchgoing for this mess? As if. Bad things happen. Good people help each other out.
posted by theora55 at 4:52 PM on May 4, 2010


In 1984, Tulsa had a similar flood event to Nashville -- 12" of rain fell on the Mingo Creek basin in under 5 hours. The result was a catastrophic flash food that caused hundreds of millions in damage and killed 12. As a result, Tulsa demolished homes, built detention ponds, and generally cleared the flood plain of anything that could be damaged by flood in one of the more remarkable feats of flood control in American history. A similar massive rain event years later caused little damage and killed no one. It was (no pun intended) a watershed moment for the town.

And what did that merit in the New York Times? One article. On A-7.
posted by dw at 4:58 PM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I live an hour away from Nashville and I didn't know how bad the flooding was until yesterday. We got alot of rain here in Cookeville, but dodged the bullet that Nashville caught. My girlfriend works at a coffee shop here, and they get their beans from a roaster in Nashville. She called him yesterday, and sent him messages asking if he was ok, he got back to her this morning. Good news: he and his roaster are ok, bad news: his house is not. It's a real sad story all around.
posted by nola at 4:58 PM on May 4, 2010


Most of my friends and family have said that they had no idea we were flooded until they read Nashvillains' Facebook status updates. I suspect they thought we were overreacting until they saw pictures.

"We Are Nashville" is a blog post making the rounds right now, which offers some ideas about the lack of coverage. I like the writer's point that Nashville hasn't been adding to our own disaster. I haven't heard about any crime. The volunteer response has been overwhelming. The people of the region have come a long way to redeem ourselves for the embarrassment of the Gasoline Panic of 2008.

One thing that bothers me though is this Disaster Contest that has come up. I see some tweets and FB updates saying that the oil spill doesn't matter as much as Nashville does, and that's unfair. Both situations suck! Pouting about the oil spill hogging the spotlight is just too.... Michael Scott or something. (I do wish they would shut up about the car bomb that didn't explode, though.)

Some online commentors are accusing Obama of hating white people, even. Um, Nashville isn't white. We're a city filled with diversity, known for a music genre that's associated with white people. Other say Obama hates us for being a red state. Maybe this kind of ranting will get worse as the water recedes and the staggering burden of the cleanup makes us all crazy, but mostly, people don't seem interested in placing blame on anything but the rain. Hmm... that would sound good in a song...
posted by Toothless Willy at 5:03 PM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


but it was a pretty busy news weekend, yeah?

Yeah. And I'm glad that CNN is finally paying attention.

But CNN is a 24-hour "news" network. Surely it could have made a decision to elbow aside for a short while the coverage of "Dabcing with the Stars" and "Major backlash over Rielle Hunter's interview with Oprah!" to block a little more time for news of the flooding.
posted by blucevalo at 5:05 PM on May 4, 2010


am curious about social media use in Middle Tennessee - if it were as connected as other parts of the country then #nashvilleflood would be trending big time on Twitter.

have gotten mails from folks - the general vibe is that we're overreacting - they're surprised when they see the photos/video - we're still in a world where stories need to be validated by 'established/major' media before they're taken seriously.
posted by jettloe at 5:10 PM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hati, east coast snow, Iceland volcano, banking crisis tornado, floods, all I can say is it looks like Obama sure picked the wrong time to quit smoking.
posted by humanfont at 5:14 PM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


am curious about social media use in Middle Tennessee - if it were as connected as other parts of the country then #nashvilleflood would be trending big time on Twitter.

It actually was one of the top trending topics for part of Sunday at the height of it all.

I think Nashville is pretty darn well social-network-connected. Take a look at the list http://twitter.com/#/list/nashvillest/nashville-news-and-media. That's just the tip of the iceberg.
posted by blucevalo at 5:22 PM on May 4, 2010


i hear what you're saying blucevalo - but i'd argue that the paucity of comments in this post points towards the area not being as wired as cities on the coasts - - but in fairness to you i'm probably reacting in shock to driving down the highway and seeing the center of town underwater and it not being 'front-page' news - i imagine this is the result of being raised in an area, (San Francisco), that prided itself on being important, with news media reflecting that pride, (deserved or not).
posted by jettloe at 5:31 PM on May 4, 2010


This kind of thing is sad, but it happens on a frighteningly regular basis. It seems like every other year that the Mississippi and Missouri overflow their banks and cause extensive flooding. A couple of years back the White River in Arkansas flooded terribly, ending up something around 25 feet over flood stage for several weeks.

The regularity of these sorts of events ensures that there is little news coverage unless large numbers (hundreds) of people die.

The area around Tulsa still floods, despite the hundreds of millions of dollars spent here over the last 20 years to improve drainage. It has reduced the severity, but flooding is still a regular occurrence.
posted by wierdo at 5:32 PM on May 4, 2010


There does seem to be a pretty high incidence of crazy-ass disasters. I'd already forgotten about that Icelandic volcano, that was just a few weeks ago. And the Oil spill. And throw in the fiery deaths of the entire government of Poland. And the Haiti earthquake was on this side of the new year. All in five months.
posted by delmoi at 5:37 PM on May 4, 2010


The NOAA is so awesome, they have a site on weather disasters costing $1 billion or more in the United States since 1980. Seems like TN has expensive disasters with surprising frequency.
posted by ghharr at 6:01 PM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


In 1929 the water was 5 feet higher!
There are eight dams controlling the Cumberland, built between 1948 and 1968, in part in response to the 1920s floods.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 6:42 PM on May 4, 2010


GuyZero: yes, there is a Naval base in Millington, TN, which is north of Memphis on the Western border of the state. It is now focused primarily on HR functions, but was previously an Air Station.

The Base and other parts of Millington flooded when two levees collapsed.

I never did hear the official rain totals for Memphis, but I know that Marion, AR, just across the river, received over 10 1/3" of rain. The storm sirens blew so long and often on Saturday that by that evening I was the only person in a restaurant to even notice when the restarted.
posted by grimjeer at 7:54 PM on May 4, 2010


Tennessee Under Water And Nobody Gives A Dang
posted by nola at 7:55 PM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I feel terrible for the people affected by this. I am saddened by the whining about not getting enough media coverage- as if television cameras lessen the suffering somehow?

Finally, that land next to the river? The place with the nice view that's suspiciously inexpensive? Don't buy it unless you like getting flooded out occasionally.
posted by gjc at 7:57 PM on May 4, 2010


I can't excuse the NYT for not covering this more at this point.

On the other hand, I think we have the illusion of instant 24-hour news, everywhere, and all the time. We don't. We learn what happens instantly in LA and NYC and DC because there are newscasters there all the time.

Stories everywhere else still take time to develop. How many days was the Icelandic volcano erupting before we realized it's potential impact? And the oil was flowing for awhile before we realized the extent of it. At first the reports were just on the fire and rescue operations.

I'm not trying to be critical here ... but for me what's interesting is the anger I'm hearing online (more elsewhere than here) over the lack of media coverage. As if it's a right to have CNN on your doorstep the minute anything bad happens.
posted by kanewai at 8:01 PM on May 4, 2010


gjc: News coverage equals donations and people getting the aid they need. No one is whining to see ourselves on the teevee.

Also, this is not a case of people building on a flood plain. These are places that were considered safe by the most conservative of estimates. You haven't read enough about this flood to make that judgment on the victims.
posted by Toothless Willy at 8:16 PM on May 4, 2010


Toothless Willy wrote: "Also, this is not a case of people building on a flood plain. These are places that were considered safe by the most conservative of estimates. You haven't read enough about this flood to make that judgment on the victims."

When you say "considered safe" do you mean not even in the 500 year floodplain?
posted by wierdo at 8:19 PM on May 4, 2010


I'm not sure what the NYT grievance is here. The site's page right now contains a mix of stories that's exactly what you'd expect of a major newspaper with a varied, international readership constantly seeking new content.

Furthermore, the NYT is also a local paper, and many of the top stories - the car bomb, Wall Street, the Tonys - have local relevance. Heading over to the Tennessean, I see no mention of the car bomb, one mention of the oil spill, and relatively prominent coverage of Steeplechase, high school proms, and gift ideas for Mother's Day. That's fine by me.

Yeah, I'd like to see more TN flood coverage from the NYT as well, but I'd like to see more NYT coverage of pretty much every event I'm interested in.
posted by lalex at 8:23 PM on May 4, 2010


am curious about social media use in Middle Tennessee - if it were as connected as other parts of the country then #nashvilleflood would be trending big time on Twitter.
posted by jettloe at 7:10 PM on May 4


My house was flooded on Sunday and I was too busy bailing water out of my basement to update my Twitter feed... from my phone, because we had to turn the electricity off in our downstairs, where the internet router is, so we wouldn't get electrocuted. That's the problem with flooding; it kills your internet.
posted by joannemerriam at 8:34 PM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


(Also, I hope you're okay where you are.)
posted by joannemerriam at 8:37 PM on May 4, 2010


I never did hear the official rain totals for Memphis, but I know that Marion, AR, just across the river, received over 10 1/3" of rain. The storm sirens blew so long and often on Saturday that by that evening I was the only person in a restaurant to even notice when the restarted.

It seems to have varied a lot--some parts of the county, like up by Millington, got around 14", but the airport only recorded around 4". There were some crazy flash floods on Saturday (one even tipped over a firetruck), but within the city of Memphis proper there doesn't seem to be too much damage. The outlying areas of Shelby Country and areas in AR seem to have gotten hit harder.

Looking at the pictures of Nashville reminds me of living in St. Louis in the '93 and '95 floods. I don't know what the news coverage was outside of St. Louis at the time, but it certainly seemed like people were paying attention to us. Nashville looks to be pretty devastated, so yeah, I would think there would be more coverage than there is.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 8:40 PM on May 4, 2010


I've lived in Nashville for several years now. I followed the entire flood via Twitter and blogs with a growing feeling of horror. While I was lucky enough not to suffer any damage from the flood, many of my friends had extreme damage to their homes and cars. I am surprised by how little mainstream media coverage there's been. Most of my Facebook friends had no idea.

Right now one of the water treatment facilities is underwater so the mayor is asking everyone to cut water consumption by half. I think car washes were still open yesterday and part of today, though, and on Twitter people were reporting automatic sprinklers going off, people hosing down their driveways, etc. I think the mayor said today that there is now even less water than before. I don't know what will happen then.
posted by Locative at 8:47 PM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


lalex: Furthermore, the NYT is also a local paper, and many of the top stories - the car bomb, Wall Street, the Tonys - have local relevance. Heading over to the Tennessean, I see no mention of the car bomb, one mention of the oil spill, and relatively prominent coverage of Steeplechase, high school proms, and gift ideas for Mother's Day. That's fine by me.

The NYT may be a "local paper" but it is also the national paper of record. That is what it styles itself as, that is what its reputation is built on. I'm not just pulling that description out of the air. A national paper should be covering local and national stories. This is a national story. The Tennessean is not a national paper and it makes no pretense of being one.

The NYT may be covering this story now but it was doing nothing but recycling AP feeds and burying them on Sunday and Monday, which was the worst part of the flood.

gjc: I am saddened by the whining about not getting enough media coverage- as if television cameras lessen the suffering somehow?

I feel your pain.

Finally, that land next to the river? The place with the nice view that's suspiciously inexpensive? Don't buy it unless you like getting flooded out occasionally.

Seriously, you're just being a complete jerk now. Wherever you live, I hope you never encounter a natural disaster over which you have no control. Oh, and by the way -- housing next to the river is not inexpensive.
posted by blucevalo at 9:18 PM on May 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Seriously, you're just being a complete jerk now.

I heard the same stupid shit when New Orleans was under water. No one in Nashville could have thought this was going to be a problem, just like no one ever does. It's foolish to sit in the safety and comfort of you home and say "well sure, but you shouldn't build your house so close to X." It's just silly and unkind, but what can you do.
posted by nola at 9:33 PM on May 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


On the other hand, I think we have the illusion of instant 24-hour news, everywhere, and all the time. We don't. We learn what happens instantly in LA and NYC and DC because there are newscasters there all the time.

We learn instantly about things that happen in the smallest hamlet in the remotest part of the country if the cable news networks deem them worthy of coverage and can get someone there with a camera fast enough. The RNC held a convention in January in Waikiki. CNN boasted about having "the only national camera crew" that flew to Hawaii to cover it. Not really an event of monumental importance, but whatever.
posted by blucevalo at 9:43 PM on May 4, 2010


All the homes that were destroyed - is memory really so short? In 1929 the water was 5 feet higher!

My work is pretty heavily involved with this kind of thing and yes it is. My best guess is that collective memory in the US is approximately 30 years. And that's in a community with a lot of older people who've lived there for a long time. It's about 5-7 years everywhere else. Every year there is a 1% chance of a 100 year flood, 10% chance of a 10 year flood and so on and so forth.

Interestingly my Dad is from a tiny village in europe where families have lived fro thousands of years. Their collective memory of things (floods, fish runs etc) goes back to the mid 1800s or even a bit earlier. They had a flood recently and people were comparing it to the levels the water reached in about 1850. They knew exactly where the water reached in 1850 because they'd been told by their parents who got it from their parents and also because there are still the same buildings that people had made marks on etc. Not too many places in the US even have that kind of knowledge so our estimates of the 100 year, 500 year flood are pretty poor. The error bars on some of those regression equations can be up to 80%. 30-40% is totally normal.

Sacramento is going to be next, specifically Natomas. Whole area was underwater for weeks as recently as 1995 and they allowed hundreds of homes to be built there in there since. You heard it here first.
posted by fshgrl at 11:10 PM on May 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't know whether Sacramento will be next, but when it does happen there, it will be a major catastrophe.
posted by blucevalo at 4:55 AM on May 5, 2010


It's true that social networking is less than in say other parts of the country, but c'mon Nashville is Music City with an industry that depends on networking. This group (Hands on Nashville) got started pretty darn quickly and they are turning volunteers away and how do you sign up...through the internets.

Also, what, three days after the storm there's a benefit concert planned at Mercy Lounge called Re Build This City on Rock and Roll all organized through facebook. Perhaps, this all falls short of reaching into the national media but the local networking seems to be helping. People have funny ideas about Southern cities.
posted by manwoo at 4:57 AM on May 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Nashville's Tent City, a homeless camp previously featured on the blue, was destroyed by the flooding.
posted by ghharr at 5:10 AM on May 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


I called my sister on Saturday to see how she was doing, since she had told me earlier she'd be in Nashville for the day. No kidding, her answer was, "I'm driving on the interstate west of town near Franklin, why?" "Well, I heard there was some serious flooding there..." "Oh, well, it's raining cats and dogs, but I've been in meetings all day, I don't know anything about that."

She apparently took all the right routes and got home to Southern Middle Tennessee fine, but she was right there in the thick of it and didn't even know. *sigh* This is all a result of my father letting us stay in Florida to see the hurricane that interrupted our vacation, I'm sure of it.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 5:15 AM on May 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks joannemerriam, we're ok - but folks a couple houses down from us didn't do too well. We were lucky as our house is on a tiny hill just a couple of feet above where it flooded.

And to the folks saying the coverage was adequate - again all i say like i mentioned above - if this had happened on the coasts - if my home town of San Francisco had it's downtown look like this then there would me more coverage, even with the bomb threat and oil slick happening.
posted by jettloe at 7:28 AM on May 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Big Picture - Flooding in Tennessee.
posted by cashman at 10:38 AM on May 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


I must say that I've been really impressed with how well this area has been helping itself after all this. I got really lucky in that our house only flooded in one room, but our neighbors didn't fare so well. We spent all day monday mucking out our house, then helping out next door, but at the end of the day, we got to stay home and sleep in our own beds.

My father-in-law is one of the higher-ups at Metro Water Services, and he's been busier than a one legged man in an ass kicking contest trying to keep things running. It's absolutely been all hands on deck there to keep water moving. Nashville isn't conserving enough water. An article in the paper today stated that on May 4 of last year, Nashville used 81 million gallons of water, and yesterday, it used 79 million....and that was with only one of the 2 treatment plants running. Water reserves are now at 37% of capacity.

One of the local news stations last night had camera crews roving about and questioned a few people who were WASHING THEIR CARS at a car wash, and their response was "I paid for it, so what's wrong with that?"
posted by rhythim at 10:47 AM on May 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


rhythim: Yeah, the water shortage is scary. I told my mom that I felt embarrassed about going to work without doing my full shower regimen, and she said, "Just wash your crotch and your armpits, you'll be good to go." All class, that lady.
posted by Toothless Willy at 11:44 AM on May 5, 2010


I wonder if a lot of people just don't watch the news or read the paper, so they hadn't heard? Surely there has to be a reason people would be getting cars washed during a water shortage. At least all the car washes are closed now, and police are closing any that are open. So frustrating!

What would happen if Nashville ran out of water? That scares me!
posted by Locative at 12:13 PM on May 5, 2010


I wonder if a lot of people just don't watch the news or read the paper, so they hadn't heard?

No, a lot of people just don't give a damn.
posted by blucevalo at 12:23 PM on May 5, 2010


Why people are ignoring this story nationally.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:16 PM on May 5, 2010


Did you hear about looting? Did you hear about crime sprees? No…you didn’t. You heard about people pulling their neighbors off of rooftops. You saw a group of people trying to move two horses to higher ground. No…we didn’t loot.

Well, that's not accurate. There was more assuredly some looting in Music City. It may not have been on a massive scale, but there was looting. 26 confirmed cases, in fact. So, yay Nashville and all that, but be factual, for Pete's sake.

On another note, Anderson Cooper was just on the air apologizing for how "little" coverage the flood has gotten from CNN and saying that he will be in Nashville taping live tomorrow night. CNN led with breathless TENNESSEE IN CRISIS banners across the screen and footage from ..... frickin' Saturday afternoon. The mayor had to explain to Coop that the river had already started receding -- yesterday.

When CNN is admitting that it may have, you know, slipped up, you know that a major misjudgment on the part of the good ol' MSM has occurred.
posted by blucevalo at 7:33 PM on May 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Crossposted to the oil spill thread, but the Army Corps of Engineers is investigating whether the flood waters can be used to protect the Louisiana coastline.
posted by electroboy at 6:31 AM on May 6, 2010


I'm no scientist. But I'm guessing that these "100-year" events are about to become "10-year" events.

All the homes that were destroyed - is memory really so short? In 1929 the water was 5 feet higher!

The Corps is calling this a 1000-year event, which doesn't necessarily mean it happens every 1000 years, but to say people should be prepared for something like this is a little unreasonable.
posted by electroboy at 6:41 AM on May 6, 2010


"When you say 'considered safe' do you mean not even in the 500 year floodplain?"

It's totally unrealistic to expect people to avoid living in an area that is at risk of a 1 in 500 year natural disaster event. I'm not even sure if such a place exists in Canada and I'd be interested in any place claiming to be disaster free in the US. Huge swaths of the continent are subject to regular hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, heavy rain, extreme blizzards, ice storms and hail.
posted by Mitheral at 7:36 AM on May 7, 2010


Just FYI, the 100-year flood event is more appropriately described as a 1% chance event, that is, in any given year, there's a 1% chance that a flood event will inundate the 100 year floodplain. I vaguely recall that if you're located in a 100 year flood plain, your chance of getting flooded over the life of a 30 year mortgage are about 26%.
posted by electroboy at 8:20 AM on May 7, 2010


Why the Media Ignored the Nashville Flood
posted by homunculus at 1:49 PM on May 7, 2010


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