Saturday, May 15, 2010

"Wow, this might get bad."

These words were uttered while sitting in Buffalo Wild Wings in Hendersonville on Saturday May 1, 2010. Little did I know how prophetic these words would be as a friend & I sat watching TV in between Will’s AAU basketball games. It had been raining hard all day Saturday and I had witnessed several wrecks throughout the day as the rains continued to pour down. We were watching the soggy Kentucky Derby on the large screen while keeping an eye on the local weather on some of the smaller TV’s. There were sporadic thunderstorm warnings flashing across the screen as the local weather folks went into “let’s see how many ways we can show you what a thunderstorm looks like” mode with their state-of-the-art radars, Dopplers, and spotters. There was one image from an interstate traffic camera ( that will always be associated with this flood – the sight of a school portable building floating beside the interstate and then slamming into the interstate which was full of stalled vehicles with water almost submerging the cars. At that precise moment I uttered “…wow, this might get bad”. Luckily, the remaining game was cancelled and we headed home. I called a neighbor who told me that one of the two bridges into our section of the Ranchettes had been damaged and the creek by our subdivision was the highest he had ever seen. As I pulled into the driveway, I could hear the creek across the golf course. I normally can’t.
As Sunday dawned, it was still raining and as I checked Facebook, I noticed some friends from my hometown, Waverly, were posting that Main St was flooding due to Trace Creek rising. I saw some pictures of my hometown flooding.

As bad as it was, little did I realize that the flooding in Waverly would literally be a drop in the bucket compared to what South Cheatham would be facing. As the day went on, more & more pictures and stories were posted to Facebook. The picture was becoming very clear that the rain was continuing and Kingston Springs would not be the same when it quit. We went to the golf course by our house to see how high the creek had gotten. We quickly saw that the golf carts that were supposedly on higher ground weren’t high enough. We called some neighbors and we pushed about 15 carts to even higher ground. Pushing golf carts in 3 foot water is very difficult. It got a lot easier when we found that there was a neutral, just not labeled! Here is what the clubhouse looked like on Sunday:

We got word that one of the main roads (yes there is one) in Kingston Springs was flooded at both ends; leaving two large subdivisions essentially on what was called Island 249. Right after that, the cable went out, so we were forced to monitor Facebook mobile. Thank goodness for the Blackberry! In addition to Island 249, Kingston Springs itself was literally an island. With the interstates and Highway 70 closed due to flooding, travel out of our town was severely limited. We didn’t realize how bad it was until the next day when we ventured out a little. Then pictures started coming in:

These are by the City Park over the Harpeth River


The next image we saw was a video clip taken by Kyle & Will’s school that slammed home to me how bad this flood was:  This first picture was taken during the flood along the road by the boys’ school that I described earlier about being washed out.

Here are shots after the waters have receded. Note the sections of road that were moved around. The areas where you see people standing is where the three houses once stood.

This last picture is of a house which was moved off its foundation. If you see where the items are sitting in the cleared-off area that is where the house once stood.

The flood not only closed our schools down while the waters were high, it closed them down for the remainder of the year. In our community, the Middle School was being used as a disaster relief shelter and here is our elementary school:

 Here are some interior shots. Look closely and you can see the waterline.

One silver lining is that NBC is producing a makeover show similar to Extreme Home Makeover that focuses on school. They are considering our elementary school to be one of the ones made over.

Well, the flood came, it destroyed, it wasn’t picky about who it impacted, it showed no mercy, and made my town learn a lot about itself. You’ve seen the destruction in pictures above; now let me tell you about how Kingston Springs reacted.

Through Facebook, word went out that if you could make it to our little coffee shop, Red Tree Coffee (, some folks were organizing help for folks impacted by the flood. Immediately, a network of folks planned a response to this flood. The two sisters (Amy & Katie) who run the Red Tree started a list of needs and began matching them with volunteers. All details were covered from feeding the volunteers to childcare for volunteers. My church, Kingston Springs United Methodist, became sack lunch and potluck dinner central serving an estimated 3,500 meals over the course of a week. Leave it to the Methodists to feed folks! A work day was organized for the Saturday after the flood. Additionally, volunteers were working during the week as well helping people gut homes, clean out, haul off rubbish, and feed them. A local TV station came out and did a story on the Red Tree ( that sums it up pretty well. Additionally, our middle school was established with as a shelter and supply center where people could come and pick up needed items such as brooms, shovels, food, personal hygiene products, and even pet food. Once again, social media came to the rescue because a Twitter account was set up to send out requests and information. A Tweet would go out for needed items and folks would get the tweet as they were shopping and bring it to the school.

As a town, we didn’t immediately start blaming others nor did we go Detroit and burn cars or loot our businesses. We stood beside each other and helped our neighbors. We met people whom we have seen for years, but never knew. It didn’t matter where you lived or what you did for a career – we just helped. We didn’t whine and immediately hold out our hand and wait for the government to come in and help. As a matter of fact, the Red Cross volunteers said that our town was an example of what to do and that we really didn’t need them. I am glad that we didn’t wait on the government because I lost a lot of faith in our government because of this (not that I had a whole lot to begin with). Some government officials seemed to be more concerned about meeting and posturing than helping. As Momma Squire told a group of them one night who were watching us prepare hot meals to deliver – “if you are gonna be in here, you need to put some gloves on and get to work or leave.” Love that girl!

I saw God a lot over the last couple of weeks. I also saw some folks not doing the right thing – thankfully, God won by a landslide. Below are the times where I personally saw God:

  • Wondering how we were going to feed extra volunteers we hadn’t planned for and out of the blue a Nashville restaurant calls and said they had a catering job cancel and wondered if we could use the food.
  • The seven year old girl who had lost her home coming into the shelter wanting a toothbrush to give to her Mom for Mother’s Day.
  • The kids in our town out volunteering day in and day out. They were pulling drywall, loading cars with supplies, unloading supply trucks, and delivering meals.
  • The sight of Kingston Springs Volunteer Corps shirts all over the community on our big volunteer day.
  • The sight of our middle school commons area being filled with supplies.
  • Hearing my oldest son tell Momma Squire that he knew he needed to mow the neighbor’s yard, but he just couldn’t when there was volunteer work to be done for people who had lost everything.
  • Being in the coffee shop when a group of volunteers came in and said they were from Ohio and wanted to help. They said they got in the car and prayed on where to go and God led them to Kingston Springs and the Red Tree. They showed up with trucks, tools, and trailers and immediately went to work. Ironically, they own a coffee shop in Ohio.
  • Delivering meals and supplies to people who had damage, but was told to give it to someone who needed it more.
  • And finally, I saw God in everyone who helped their neighbor after this disaster.
Well, I know this is long, but if you want more information on how to help, more pictures, more videos, or see other stories, here are some links for you:

Proud to be from Kingston Springs, TN

Zach, A Tennessee Squire