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Woody: Flood Puts Problems Into Perspective

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, May 5 2010

While much of Nashville and outlying areas were flooded, Nashville Superspeedway reported no major damage as it prepares for next month's Nationwide race. (Photo courtesy of NASCAR)

Nashville, Tenn. – It was a hectic weekend. I was trying to arrange an interview with Dale Earnhardt Jr. for a fast-approaching magazine deadline, the air conditioner was making an odd (i.e., expensive-sounding) noise and the guy who works on my car (Mr. Good Wallet) said I needed at least four new tires.

My lawn mower wouldn’t start, my dog Buddy developed an ear infection and my I got covered in poison ivy cleaning out a fence row.

Just when I was starting to turn on the pity-poor-me violin music, the rain started to fall.

And fall.

And fall.

And fall.

When it stopped two days later – Sunday afternoon – Nashville and surrounding areas were flooded.

The Cumberland River and other tributaries continued to rise after the rain stopped, and by Monday Nashville and much of Middle Tennessee were under water.

The deluxe Opryland Hotel had six feet of dirty water standing in its banquet rooms. In some of the famous downtown honky tonks if you fell off the bar stool you might drown.

LP Field, where the Tennessee Titans play football, is a 67,000-seat swimming pool.

The State Fairgrounds, home of 52-year-old Nashville Speedway, is a lake.

It wasn’t just Nashville that got socked by as much as 17 inches of rain – nearby Franklin, Darrell Waltrip’s home town remains flooded, as does Spring Hill, where Sterling Marlin lives.

My house escaped major damage but a friend’s is under water, a total loss, along with all the contents. A neighbor’s house is flooded and his car is under water.

A buddy was rescuing neighbors in his fishing boat when it capsized. He managed to haul his passengers to safety, then swam back, retrieved his boat, and resumed ferrying out stranded flood victims.

Schools are closed – some are totally destroyed – and businesses are shut down. One of the city’s two water stations is out of commission.

Entire communities in several surrounding counties are under water. Damage will run into the billions of dollars – perhaps hundreds of billions.

The death toll is mounting. A mile upstream from my home an elderly couple was swept away Sunday morning trying to go to church. Their bodies were recovered yesterday. That’s 12 so far and more are expected to be found when the water goes down.

It’s the worst natural disaster in Middle Tennessee history.

If there’s anything positive in all this mess, it at least puts our little personal peeves and irritations into perspective.

Not getting a race driver to return a call is an aggravation; seeing a neighbor’s house washed away and not knowing the fate of several friends – that’s a problem.

– Larry Woody can be reached at lwoody@racintoday.com

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, May 5 2010
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