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Thousands of Nash.-area homes flooded

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–In what is becoming an all-too-common story around Nashville and Middle Tennessee, a Two Rivers Baptist Church pastor said May 4 that “dozens” of families in his congregation saw their homes flooded from a record-setting rainfall, and many of them have no flood insurance.

A flood that is being called by some a “once every 500 year event” damaged thousands of homes May 1-2 after more than 13 inches of rain fell in a 48-hour period, pushing streams, creeks and the Cumberland River far over their banks, and flooding roads, houses and businesses. At least 18 people statewide, including 10 in Nashville, died. The Cumberland River began receding Monday night after it crested about 12 feet above the flood level, but by then it was too late.

“There are houses where water is up to the roof. It’s total devastation,” Scott Hutchings, executive pastor of Two Rivers Baptist, told Baptist Press. “You see it in Iowa or places like that where they have a lot of flooding, but when it’s this close, it tears your heart out just seeing the impact on the families.”

Gov. Phil Bredesen declared 52 of the state’s counties disaster areas and requested federal aid.

Two Rivers and hundreds of churches across the region spent much of Monday and Tuesday checking on their members and communities, surveying the damage, and determining how they can help. Churches were busy recruiting volunteers who could go out and help do everything that is needed to repair a flooded home — cleaning out the mud, tearing up carpet, replacing drywall. Manpower, the churches said, is the biggest need at the moment.

Two Rivers is located just a few thousand feet from the Cumberland and just across the street from the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, which was flooded with around 10 feet of water and which will be closed for months. Although Two Rivers’ building itself was spared from any major damage, the surrounding communities were not. The Pennington Bend neighborhood — less than a mile from Two Rivers — was nearly completely flooded. The Nashville Police S.W.A.T. team used boats to rescue more than 80 families Monday.

“We’re going to go out into the Pennington Bend community and go find what the needs are of our community,” Hutchings said. “We’re going to have teams that are going to assist in food, clothing, water — that sort of thing. We’re getting calls nationally from people wanting to come help. We’re probably going to use our facilities to be a type of staging area for the Pennington Bend area.”

The flood has also disrupted the school year. Nashville Metro Schools were closed Monday and Tuesday and will be closed Wednesday. Donelson Christian Academy, a private school on the city’s east side, received so much floodwater it will have to finish the year elsewhere. Its middle and high school classes will meet at Two Rivers Baptist, while its preschool, elementary school and extended care will meet at First Baptist Church in Donelson.

The waters also flooded parts of downtown Nashville, including the Country Music Hall of Fame, which received minor damage. Businesses closest to the river on First and Second Avenue sustained major damage. The SBC Building and LifeWay Christian Resources — both located around Ninth Avenue — had no damage.

Hutchings asked for prayer for the area.

“Part of prayer is, ‘God, how can I be a part of the solution?’ We’re hopefully going to be getting opportunities for people to come and share the love of Christ,” he said.

Elsewhere in the state, the Linden Valley Baptist Conference Center in Linden, a facility of the Tennessee Baptist Convention about 90 minutes west of Nashville, was flooded by the adjacent Buffalo River. Tim Bearden, senior manager of the conference center, said all buildings with the exception of the main conference center lodge had some water damage. Even lodges located on the hill above campus had damage caused by mudslides due to the excessive rain. Tennessee Baptist disaster relief teams began arriving Tuesday to begin helping with the clean-up.

LifeWay Christians Resources President Thom Rainer continued Tuesday providing updates on his Twitter page about his flooded Franklin, Tenn., home which received significant damage to the first level, although the main level was spared. He also lost a car that was totaled by the flood.

“Getting flood waters out of crawl space and mud off items,” he wrote Tuesday morning. “Lots more clean up. Many repairs. God is good.”
Michael Foust is an assistant editor of Baptist Press. With reporting by Lonnie Wilkey, editor of the Baptist and Reflector, newsjournal of the Tennessee Baptist Convention. The B&R may be read online at www.tnbaptist.org/BRNews. Donate to Tennessee flood disaster relief @ http://bit.ly/bKmPhC. Learn other ways you can help @ http://bit.ly/dCCACC or http://bit.ly/bSLL5b.

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  • Michael Foust