Tennessee Floods

As you have hopefully heard despite shamefully spotty coverage in the national media, massive storms passed through Tennessee over the weekend, flooding the rivers running through Tennessee’s Cumberland Basin and western regions.

The first day of the storms hit my hometown of Murfreesboro pretty hard, but thankfully the second day missed us completely as did the tornadoes that the forecasters predicted would pass right through the middle of the community. Not only is the town one large flood plain, but we are also still recovering from the devastating tornado that struck us on Good Friday of last year. Just last week I took a walk along the Stones River Greenway and marveled at the number of homes that were still in the process of being rebuilt.

That second day of storms was not as kind to Clarksville, Nashville, Franklin and many of the other surrounding communities, however. The rain that missed us by a few miles pounded them, and the flood levels topped what has been seen around here in well over half a century.

The current tally according to today’s Tennessean is overwhelming. At least 21 dead in Tennessee. Over $1 billion dollars of damage in Nashville alone. That doesn’t account for lost wages or other expenses nor does it include the other affected communities. When including those costs and considering the entire region, the amount could total $2 billion or more. In addition, countless families are displaced, and one of the water treatment plants for Nashville is down, creating a water shortage.

As a historian, though, I’m also very concerned about what this is going to mean for historic sites around the state. Many unique and important structures line our rivers, and I’ve seen how natural disasters can provide an excuse for demolition and redevelopment.

In the interest of spreading the word and saving our sites, here’s a list from C. Vann West, Director of the Center for Historic Preservation at Middle Tennessee State University, of the historic locations confirmed to be affected SO FAR. Keep an eye out for them and argue for their protection and restoration. These are too precious to be torn down.

-Grand Ole Opry House, Nashville.
-2nd Avenue North and Lower Broadway Historic Districts, Nashville
-Riverside Park, Clarksville
-Historic Town Square, Lebanon
-Dyersburg Downtown Historic District, Dyer County.
-Bemis Historic District (the old mill town), Jackson
-Millington Naval Air Station, Shelby County
-Bethesda Presbyterian Church and Cemetery, Purdy, McNairy County (tornado)
-Hartsville Historic District, Trousdale County
-Kingston Springs and Ashland City, Cheatham County

The following are more open landscapes that have been impacted:

-Mound Bottom/Narrows of the Harpeth State Park
-Bicentennial Mall State Park
-Springhouse, Carnton Plantation, Franklin
-The Hermitage Grounds and Cemetery
-Old City Cemetery, Nashville
-Historic Cemeteries throughout Franklin
-Nashville Greenway System (especially Shelby Park)
-Germantown Greenway (contains Fort Germantown), Shelby County
-Pinkerton Park (Fort Granger), Franklin

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