Telling the story

I’m not one of those people who likes to complain about the news media.

For one thing, I have a journalism degree and feel kin to these people. We studied the same things, and some of them likely sat in the same classes at the University of Missouri that I did.

For another thing, I don’t necessarily think one story is more important than another. I think everyone has a story that generally deserves to be told, but I also know that many people simply aren’t willing to listen to everyone’s story.

Because the most important person to most of us is ourselves.

Yeah, the truth hurts.

That’s the battle that’s waging in me this week. My city is under water. People are dying. One water treatment plant is under water, the other was nearly taken out earlier in the week by the rising Cumberland and was saved only by inmates who sandbagged it. And we’re apparently not conserving enough water and things could get very, very difficult and inconvenient before they get better.

To make matters worse, I’m not sure the people outside of this general area or with ties to Middle Tennessee know what’s going on.

Now, I also know that a lot of important things have been taking place. A bomb in Times Square is a big deal and deserves media attention and dissection. The oil spill in the Gulf Coast is a terrible tragedy and deserves to be reported on. I get that; I understand that; I appreciate that; I applaud that.

But a flood this big that happens once in a 1000 years also deserves some media attention, and I don’t just say that because it’s my city or the story that’s most important to me. I don’t say it because I think my town or my needs (which are few, I’m fine and any issues I have to deal with are minor inconveniences about rationing water and not being able to take the shortest route to where I want to go) are more important than anyone else’s.

I say it because there are people who need help here and the media is a tool for us to get that.

There are people who are comparing this to Katrina and using a lot of “us” and “they” language. I don’t buy into that. This isn’t Katrina, but it is bad. The death toll is rising every day. The usable water supply is getting smaller and smaller. And there are just so many needs and so much devastation.

Historic buildings have water damage. The pictures from the Grand Ole’ Opry will break your heart if you love the history of music (and that includes rock n’ roll, b/c I contend it had some roots in historical country music)—and I’ve heard that they are attempting to save at least part of the stage, which includes a 6 foot in diameter circle taken out of the original stage at the Ryman so that the singers would always and forever stand on the same wooden floorboards. I don’t think anyone ever expected the new Opry House to flood. The famed Opryland hotel is under at least 10 feet of water and the Opry Mills Mall is a mess. LP Field (home of the Titans) and Bridgestone Arena (home of the Predators) each have water damage. Historic Franklin, Tenn., is devastated. Families are without homes, without flood insurance, and people are missing. I’ve read news report after news report of death, sorrow, loss—and even resilience in the face of difficult circumstances.

This is the reality.

And that picture doesn’t really tell the whole story. For you to really get it, you’d have to smell the stench of the water at the riverfront and know that there is sewage in there. To really understand, you’d have to see the helplessness on people’s faces when they admit they have lost everything and don’t have flood insurance. To tell the whole story, you’d have to hear a man’s voice crack as he praised God that he and his family were simply alive. Everything they once had was destroyed or damaged, but they were alive and that was what mattered.

Every story is important, and this is Nashville’s story.

I don’t care to debate whether it’s right or wrong or if the national news media has ignored us. All I want to say is that our story is important and the media can leverage its power to help us.

Help us tell our story.

Tennessean Coverage

Landmarks flooded

Red Cross


10 thoughts on “Telling the story”

  1. Well said. Thanks for posting this Mandy. I have friends here who even today who did not know there were floods in Nashville.

  2. While it isn’t Katrina-bad in terms of square miles & property damaged, Katrina victims had some warning. Most people in TN hear “flash flood” and think “watch for water on the road.” This happened so fast people couldn’t even run. NOBODY was prepared for it. In that respect, it’s about as bad as it can be.

    Thanks for an awesome post/summary.

  3. Thanks for putting your thoughts into words, Mandy. It’s been so surreal to see what’s happening up there and feel so close to the situation, yet be so far away. I feel helpless to do anything, but I know there is so much to be done…

  4. I was just at the Opryland Resort two summers ago and got to see my first (and so far only) show at the new Opry House. I loved visiting Nashville. It was one of the few places I ever thought, “I could almost live here” (Kansas City will always be home).

    We’re praying for you all first and then looking for anything else to help.

  5. Thanks, guys, for your prayers, thoughts, and comments. Leslie Ann: I also feel a little helpless b/c I don’t even know where to start helping. Plus, work isn’t closed, so actively going to people’s houses and helping them is proving to be difficult.

    I heart Nashville and this is breaking my heart!

  6. Very well put! I am trying to get the word out down here. As much as I have come to love Oklahoma, Nashville is pretty much still home to me. I heart it too!


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