On Saturday afternoon, Chappy whisked me away for part two of my birthday.....an evening at the Opryland Hotel....our favorite place in town to visit. It was storming and flash floods were predicted, but who would have ever expected flooding to swamp Middle Tennessee?
Sunday morning we called home to check on the kids and were told by panic-stricken children the Harpeth River backing up to our neighborhood had flooded all of Downtown Franklin and had come very close to homes nearby. In fact, the local Sonic and Toyota car dealership were completely under water and the rain was still coming down strong. Instead of enjoying a nice lunch buffet at Opryland, Chappy and I decided we better head home to make sure everyone stayed safe. Chappy went to the front desk to checkout and was told we were not going to be allowed to leave. All the roads were closed and we were "land-locked" in the area.
By noon, the Opryland Hotel had lost power, but still no one mentioned concern about the nearby Cumberland River. By dinnertime, the hotel had managed to get a few generators running so hungry guests could have some hot food. We had just sat down to dinner and taken a bite of warm bread when the waiter rushed to our table and announced: "You will have to go to the ballroom immediately, we have been told to evacuate to the highest level in the building. It looks like the Cumberland River may overflow and flood the hotel."
It was eerily like the movie: "Titanic". Guests were not allowed to return to their rooms and gather belongings; they were told to sit in a ball room and wait further instruction.
Chappy and I, being familiar with the hotel, slipped out a side door to an open loading area that is around 40 feet above street level. From our perspective, we could see the river rising and the flooded parking lot of the OpryMills Mall next door. Finally, after two hours of speculation, the hotel was evacuated to a nearby local high school. Still unable to make it to our home in Franklin due to flooding and road closures , we found another hotel near the airport to spend the night.
This morning, the U.S. Coast Guard was called to the Opryland Hotel to retrieve all who were left. Currently, ten feet of contaminated water is standing in the beautiful building and wooden chairs we were seated in to eat our dinner are floating randomly about . The area is a total disaster.
We ventured out this morning to make our way home to Franklin. We were shocked by the flooding which cannot be fully appreciated by viewing the pictures being shown on the news. To see neighborhoods buried beneath water is incredibly unsettling. As of right now, the Cumberland is still rising as creeks and waterways pour into the already overflowing river.
Please say a prayer for all of the families who have lost loved ones in the flood and for those who have lost their belongings.