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Saturday, May 8, 2010

Nashville, Tennessee flooding

Hello all. I'm taking the first few days of vacation I've had in over two years and will return on Monday with reviews, refreshed, relaxed and renewed.

In the mean time, this came through my mailbox (courtesy of Mike Farley of Michael J Media) and I thought it appropriate to share. Please read the following post, and if you can help or know someone who can, please pitch in.

Discovering my inner hippie & what to actually do in a flood.
This rant/narrative is only a snapshot of what is happening around me at this moment. This was written 1am May 5th.

I’ll give you an ever so brief back story and then we’ll get to it.

I’m fine.

Now to the important stuff.

Bean (my wife Lisa) and I live in the Riverwalk community in the Bellevue area of Nashville. In our community alone, at least 150 homes “suffered significant structural damage”. The communities next to ours suffered loses of around 250 homes according to what our neighbors have told us.

Bean and I went to help people with whatever they needed this evening when we arrived back home from work. Full disclosure: I’ve never really done this sort of thing in my life. In helping, we discovered that all people affected by this flood throughout the state should undeniably have access to the following items a/k/a List Of Basic Items We Need Now:

Portable cell phone towers - Our community is in a valley between two cell repeaters. Both repeaters were knocked out; leaving cell service very spotty and unreliable. This service is absolutely essential so people affected by these floods can learn about meetings and get updates from friends and fellow community members regarding clean-up and updates regarding the availability of basic services. This applies to all affected areas. We did notice that the most consistent form of communication we had during this time was via text message. So I urge community leaders to start their text message lists and use that as one of the methods to spread information on a permanent basis.

Note to Mobile Service Providers: I’m going to humorously but wishfully declare that whoever makes it to the tops of these hills first can put up their logo next to the tower but only until the cleanup is over. You’ll probably have customers for life and have an incredibly loyal grassroots word-of-mouth campaign via the people you helped out. Again, just a thought. Oh yeah, had out your cheapest phones to people who need them. There are freakish amounts of them sitting around being unused.

Note to Community Leaders: Please assume people have no way to communicate with one another aside from postings at the entrances of the communities and via announcements from emergency personnel. Continually assuming people have the internet is continually pissing them off.

Generator Trucks - I go to concerts. I know they exist. This particular area needs about 8 of them immediately.

Flood Lights (to accompany the Generator Trucks) - At this moment, helicopters are flying overhead shining their spotlights on these communities. I know this is seen as an effective way to ward off potential looting and I’m sure it is somewhat effective. More effective however would be be the use of medium wattage flood lights (less than a night game at a baseball stadium, but more than a street light) on the street corners so the folks that have been working all day long to salvage their belongs can at least get a somewhat restful night sleep instead of feeling like their in a police state. A car or two patrolling the area and some flood lights will serve the same means and allow these folks to rest comfortably at night. It would also afford them extra time to clean up.

Mold Fungicides - People need to be made aware that they must immediately throw things away or at the very least, get all wet items out of your house, including carpets and drywall. We tried to research mold fungicides but nobody was laying claim to the best product for the job. I’m a bit shocked that Dow Chemical hasn’t figured this out. Maybe they have and we couldn’t find it.

FEMA, from now on, whenever there is a flood, this must be made perfectly clear. No excuses. This must be stressed repeatedly. Throw wet stuff away.

Portable showers - The Nashville area is and should absolutely continue to conserve water. HOWEVER, people that are in the process of cleaning their houses and have been exposed to the flood waters, which carry who knows what kinds of contaminants, should have immediate access to portable showers AND should be able to shower for at least 10 minutes. Not only will it allow these people to be clean but it will help prevent the spread of disease. A shower of that length uses less than 50 gallons of water. Here’s how it breaks down:

One 18-wheeler water truck can hold 30 tons of water which equals 8000 gallons. That works out to about 160 showers per truck.

We need 2 18-wheeler water trucks per day starting right now.

For the showers themselves: Royal Restrooms, Mobile Restroom Trailer Rentals, Mesa Waste Services, etc. if you are not underwater, come help us out and maybe the people smarter than I can figure out a way to take some of our community funds and pay you back. Get a sponsor of say Fructis or Head & Shoulders to provide supplies and help pick up the cost. Or FEMA will pay you back. It will be paid back, by us, one way or another.

Paper Shredder Trucks - Even though most of the paperwork that people are throwing away is wet, it still contains important personal information that should be properly destroyed. Just a suggestion, sponsorship of these shredder trucks should be provided by any bank or credit issuer that received bailout funds from the government. The bank/credit issuer would be able to write down their potential fraudulent risk assessments (a completely made-up term. I know nothing about banking but I think I’m close.) and the customer (or future customer) could rest easily knowing their credit identity was safe.

Refrigeration Trucks - 6 trucks would be a good start (Budweiser, cough). People will need a place to store their food for the next few weeks because anyone that was affected by this flood probably does not have access to refrigeration and the ice in the cooler isn’t cutting it in 80+ degree heat.

Large Tents - It’s hot out here and people are going to suffer health problems if they stay in this heat without a cool place to recover. This tent will also be a great place to share information. The tents also need a designated area for people to charge their cell phones.

Gas Grills - Along with refrigerators, stoves are also no longer in working condition. If cleaning utensils are also provided; people can share gas grills if placed strategically throughout the community.

People - We need volunteers to help with the cleanup. We also need volunteers to check on people, help keep their spirits up and make sure they have as much support as possible. People supporting people goes a long way in the recovery process.

With all of that said, the overwhelming thing I heard tonight was not about the material items that people lost. All of that stuff was trivial to both the person throwing it away and the to person to which the items belonged. The most overwhelming thing I heard was “that because of this flood, I met my neighbors for the first time and I’ve lived here for ___ years”. Even if you’re not affected by these floods and you are reading this: know who your neighbors are. You don’t have to hang out with them all the time. Just meet them, and wave hello when you see them, you know, be a neighbor.

Rebuilding a community really has nothing to do with structures.

Here’s the video that partially inspired me to get out and help tonight.

Josh Preston
Me and the Machine Records
1001 Riverspring Drive
Nashville, TN 37221

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