Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Violent Storms and Flooding in Tenn., and Miss. Are Giving YOU A “Heads Up.” 3 Important Tips.
Thousands were evacuated and hundreds of others were rescued from their homes — some plucked from rooftops — as flood waters from swollen rivers and creeks inundated neighborhoods across the region. Hospitals, schools and state buildings also were flooded.
And authorities were preparing for more damage as the Cumberland River, which winds through downtown Nashville, reached its highest level since an early 1960s flood-control project and was expected to crest around 50 feet early Monday morning — 10 feet above flood level.
Firefighters busted through the windows of Audrey Talley's trailer early Sunday to rescue her family, including her three small grandchildren, ages 9 months to 4 years old. Talley's son woke her up to tell her water was coming into the trailer in south Nashville. Within 10 minutes it was knee deep.
Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen called it an "unprecedented rain event," but that failed to capture the magnitude. More than 13 inches of rain fell in Nashville over two days, nearly doubling the previous record of 6.68 inches that fell in the wake of Hurricane Fredrick in 1979. "That is an astonishing amount of rain in a 24- or 36-hour period," Bredesen said Sunday.
Not only was flooding a problem but several areas also had to deal with tornadoes. Three people in Mississippi were killed when tornadoes hit their homes and a fourth died after he drove into flood waters.
Much of the flooding damage was in outlying areas of Music City and across the middle and western parts of Tennessee. Rescues turned dramatic with homeowners plucked off their roofs, pregnant women airlifted off a waterlogged interstate and evacuations in dozens of areas, including the removal of 1,500 guests at Opryland to a nearby high school.
Flooding and damage was so widespread in Tennessee that Bredesen asked the state's Army National Guard to help and dozens of vehicles and personnel were put to work rescuing stranded residents. Nashville Mayor Karl Dean reported more than 600 water rescues in the city alone.
One building in east Nashville was caught on video floating down Interstate 24 and passing stranded vehicles. The video was quickly uploaded to YouTube.
More than 20 shelters were open around the state, some filled to capacity. Jeff Fargis, with the American Red Cross at the Lipscomb shelter, said officials began turning people away Sunday afternoon, directing them to another shelter. But soon people began returning with news that flooding was so bad around that shelter no one could get there. Most schools in middle Tennessee have closed for Monday. Most state employees are expected to return to work if possible, but the Andrew Jackson Building, one of the state's largest, is closed.
Attention will then turn to damage assessment and clean up.
Bredesen expected a lot of private property damage reports and said there appeared to be widespread damage to roads, bridges and other public infrastructure, including at the state's own emergency operations center where up to a foot of water caused electrical problems and forced officials to relocate to an auxiliary command center.
Bredesen said it will be at least several days until the damage can be thoroughly assessed. He canceled a trip to Washington, D.C., this week to attend the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Governor's Summit to oversee recovery efforts.
Longtime state officials say middle and western Tennessee haven't experienced such devastating flooding since 1975 when flood waters inundated the Opryland amusement park east of downtown Nashville. "I've never seen it this high," said emergency official Donnie Smith, who's lived in Nashville 45 years. "I'm sure that it's rained this hard at one time, but never for this much of an extended period."
What do the woes of these folks suggest to you? Can the message, “Be Prepared” be said any clearer? So, what can you do?
1. This photo shows a man evacuating but able to save his stuff. If his papers, books, scrapbooks, photo albums etc had been in cardboard boxes, they would have been ruined and gone. Put your important stuff in plastic bins.
2. Keep your storage boxes of important items off the floor.
3. Keep a copy of important papers in another location (city) or consider online storage services. If everything is lost in a flood, fire or wind, you will have back up. This is could be super valuable to a small business.
For more tips, free downloads and a copy of How Top Save Your Stuff From A Disaster, got to www.saveyourstuff.com