“You might want to check the basement,” my husband told me over the phone. It was the first week of May 2010 and the beginning of our second month in our first home, a little bungalow in the East Nashville Inglewood neighborhood. It was 8 in the morning and my husband, Ben, was calling me from Key West, where he and hundreds of other Nashville songwriters had gathered for an annual songwriting festival.
“People here are saying they’ve heard their houses are flooding in all the rain there,” he told me. As I reached the bottom of the steps of our partially finished basement, I plopped down into about two inches of water. The rest of that chaotic day was filled with neighbors running around in the relentless rain trying to help me clear out our gutters, reroute the water, do anything to keep our whole bottom level from turning into an electrically-charged indoor swimming pool.
As the water reached the first step, we couldn’t touch it any longer because it could have been covering an electrical box or something else that would give it a charge. I continued to check as the water covered the couch cushions, sending them floating around the room; filled the bottom drawers of my heavy oak desk and almost reached a filing cabinet full of important documents I had set up on a chair in my haste that morning. A neighbor walked down our street and found water up to his waste. No planes could reach the Nashville airport, so the idea of Ben getting home was out of the question.
While I was focused on pumping water out of my basement (thanks to a devoted dad and brother who made the drive from Indiana), people all over Nashville faced the water in their own ways. The iconic Opryland Hotel was said to have 10 feet of water inside, the basement of the Schermerhorn Symphony Center filled with water and the symphony was displaced. People across the city had to leave their homes by boat, and we kept hearing reports of how high the water had come in the Titans’ riverfront stadium LP Field. The news kept playing clips of one mobile classroom floating down Bell Road in Antioch. Hundreds of people abandoned their cars on I-24 to escape the water. Every store in the Opry Mills Mall entirely flooded, and almost every one had to shut down.
Last weekend I went back to the newly reopened Opry Mills Mall, which finally opened its doors again just last month. It was nice to feel like that chapter of Nashville’s book has been closed, as we no longer have to drive by the deserted parking lot and think about the waters that destroyed it two years ago. My basement, I’m happy to report, is finally free of any flood remnants as well, other than a water stain on one wall, which I kind of like. After all, it’s good to be able to point to something and remember what happened two years ago across Music City. But then it’s even better to be able to report that it’s all over.