By now, most of you already know that Nashville was hit by massive amounts of rain over the weekend. At least 24 people have died in Tennessee, countless houses have been ruined and the mayor's office has announced that flood damage will probably cost the city at least $1 billion. Nashville institutions such as the Grand Ole Opry and the Schermerhorn Symphony Center suffered serious damages:
At BookPage, we were fortunate. Other than minor roof leaking, our office was not affected. A few staff members have seen minor home damage—and one editor went without electricity for four days—but by and large we are all lucky compared to others in our community.
There are many publishing companies, authors and people associated with the book business here in Nashville, and over the past few days they have provided updates about their staff and support for dealing with flood damage:
Spokesman Keel Hunt of the Ingram Book Company, located about 18 miles from Nashville in LaVergne, TN, reported, "There has been no flood damage at Ingram facilities, and no interruption in shipping or other services to Ingram customers"—although many employees have suffered losses from the flood waters affecting their homes.
Tommy Nelson, a blog from the kids division of book publisher Thomas Nelson, posted about helping children deal emotionally with natural disaster.
Local authors Amanda Morgan, Victoria Schwab and Myra McEntire have started a blog called "Do the Write Thing for Nashville." A description of their project: "Hey writers! We're raising money for flood relief in Nashville by auctioning off critiques and more from your favorite authors, agents, and editors."
Best-selling novelist Ann Patchett described the torrents in an op-ed piece for the New York Times, "Our Deluge, Drop by Drop." She writes: "The rain is over; what we’re left with is the life that follows weather. We’re waiting to hear if the water treatment plant is going to close, and when the public schools are going to reopen. There is a charming expression in the South—when someone says he’ll see you soon, you respond, 'God willing and the creeks don’t rise.' I finally get it."
Many of our staff members—not to mention fans and authors around the country—were looking forward to the Romance Writers of America Annual Conference at Gaylord Opryland this summer. Now, the venue looks like this:
RWA issued this statement on their website: "We at RWA are deeply saddened by the events in Nashville and the mid-Tennessee region, and we wish a speedy recovery to friends and businesses in the area. . . RWA has made arrangements to contribute a portion of our charitable donations from the 2010 Literacy Autographing event to Nashville Adult Literacy Council." The conference will be at Walt Disney World in Orlando.
The Nashville Public Library has a page on their site devoted to flood resources. We have inquired about damage at the libraries. I believe all branches are now open, although some are without phone service. The Second Saturday Booksale this weekend has been cancelled.
While reading the tragic stories of flood victims, I couldn't help but think about Jeffrey Jackson's book Paris Under Water, which I blogged about after hearing the author speak at Davis-Kidd Booksellers. Here's an excerpt from my post:
In Paris Under Water, Jackson explores how communities came together and, against all odds, saved Paris in the midst of collapsing infrastructure, looters and failed electricity and public transportation. Although media images from natural disasters typically represent chaos, Jackson explained that in uncontrollable, dangerous situations “people generally pull together. . . collaborate to save themselves.”
"Community" has certainly been a buzzword in the past few days. Last night, several BookPage editors attended a fundraising concert for flood relief efforts—a packed house—and this weekend a couple more of us will join the hundreds of people who have already volunteered to clean up debris. It seems like everyone who lives here is passionate about joining the community of people working to rebuild the city.
If you live in Nashville, how have you been affected by the flood? I think many of us turn to books when confronted with tragedy. If you have lived through natural disaster, can you recommend any books?