500 Year Flood: Hard Lessons Learned

We’ve just been through the “500 year flood” in Nashville. Here are hard lessons learned by this landlord.

It is the 500 year flood here in Nashville, or at least that’s what we’re being told. It is the worst flood on record since records were started 130 years ago.

No one had ever seen or heard of a flood of this magnitude.  When Percy Priest Dam was built back in the 60’s  we were told it couldn’t flood like this.  Many people also wondered if the Wolf Creek Dam up river in Kentucky, would hold, especially  since it has had a lot of problems as of late.

But when the Opryland Hotel gets evacuated along with the nearby Wyndham Hotel, whose guests were rescued by the Coast Guard no less, it really makes you wonder.

So that’s why landlords don’t sleep well when you get the most rainfall ever in one day and the most for a 36 hour period; 15 -20 inches in some places.  You worry about everything and you know your phone will start ringing at daylight.

Here are some of the hard lessons we’ve learned over the weekend.

1.  7 inches of rainfall(within 24 hours)  will get into the house. It’s almost impossible to keep in out.

Also, rain can come in through the drain, not necessarily through the outside.

On the other hand, rainwater can also go out the drain.  That was a pleasant surprise for me at 6 AM this morning.  2 feet of water had gone down to about three inches.

2. Don’t keep important papers in the basement even if you live on a hill.

Right, I didn’t think our basement would flood.  It never has in the 50 years my family has  lived in the house.  Of course the floor has gotten wet a few times, but nothing like Sunday morning.  When the water is rising, you don’t want to have to search for your 84-year old father’s latest will.

3. Water can rise very fast.

This fact cost several people their lives here in Davidson County over the weekend.  Sure, you think you understand that from watching TV but let me tell you it’s still astonishing.  Our basement was completely dry when I first checked it  at 8 AM Sunday.  One hour later it was almost to my knees.  That was nothing compared to what happened to a lot of people.

4. You won’t have time to save everything, choose fast but choose wisely.

Things are beginning to float and you only have a few minutes to save stuff what do you grab?

That $45 Heavenly Ham in the basement frig which  we were going to have for Sunday dinner, that’s what.  Wise choice- it furnished us with a lot of really good ham sandwiches because we weren’t going to do much cooking with the electricity off.

I also went for the rare print of the 1850 Missouri Compromise that has been passed down in my family for five generations.  The 1920’s Victrola with the rare Grand Ole Opry record collection had to go.  I hate country music and it was too heavy to lift.

The good news is things were not damaged as much as I thought they would be once the water was out.

5. Take tenant calls in stride

Okay, they’re going to call. Some of them just want you to hold their hands.  Do it.  It’s good for public relations.  They have a kind of warm fuzzy feeling because you care, or at least that is what you’ve led them to believe.  But folks, I’m sorry, a damp carpet is not as important as a flooded basement.  The tenant with the flooded basement got top priority.

Also tenants can’t blame the flood on the “tampon call”.  When are women going to learn those things are not flusable?

5. Don’t panic when you have three flooded basements to deal with.

Instead get on the phone and get help.  And yes, you can figure it out, but get ahead of the crowd.

Our maintenance man, Tim, was able to get  lined up  first for a pump come Monday morning.  He got one that could pump 4000 gallons per hour and he was able to do 2 basements by 1 PM.

We also learned pool pumps can also pump out a basement and just in case you can’t buy a pump within 25 miles, go to Amazon and order next day delivery.

One last piece of advice- a lot of things seem to look better by morning. When you have that first cup of coffee , it just seems to feel better. I’m not Pollyanna from Glad Town but I do think there’s a lot of truth to that.

The May Day 2010 Tennessee Floods – Portable Classroom Floats Down I-24 in Nashville

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