The road kill was thick as I drove to Memphis; some of it was of the hairless variety. I was driving too fast to get a close look and I thought to myself, “Armadillos maybe? How far south am I?” Despite that, Tennessee is one of the most beautiful states to drive through; rolling hills, highways cut through stone, deep gorges and rivers like you’ve never seen.
The past week I had been based out of Headquarters in Nashville to assist with the TN Floods. I welcomed this drive across the state. Working out of an office is leaving me bored. I haven’t seen any of the devastation except a few piles of collected waste next to freeway ramps downtown. The stench of mildew and decay fills the car as I drive past the rotting mounds.
Not every job is exciting, but I know we’re all here to support the same mission. My role is to make sure every one of the 2000+ employees/volunteers are accounted for. As they come and go I ask them if they are having a good experience. The answers never fail to startle me.
One man said to me, “this is unlike any other disaster I’ve ever worked. The people here are so proud and kind.” He spoke to a man who refused American Red Cross help saying, “No, please give it to someone who could use it more”. He says this as he stands in front of his destroyed home that’s covered with tarps. The volunteer was able to coax him into letting the Red Cross help him.
Another woman told me how emotional it can be doing outreach in the communities. One of the homes she visited was uplifted and carried a football field’s length before it crashed into another house. She told me, “I’ve seen so many grown men cry.”
Stories like this make my eyes swell up as I drive down the highway. I can’t see any of the affected homes from the road. From where I’m sitting everything looks normal. But I know if I turn down any one of these side roads I’ll see quite a different site.
To all the families affected by the Tennessee Floods, my heart goes out to you. Learn more about relief efforts here.
Thanks to Kat Ellery, AmeriCorps member, for this post.