GENTUSO: My parents live down in the Heartland Valley. There’s a little retirement community down there and that Sunday afternoon we kept calling and calling and calling, “Mom, how’s it look? Is there any water? Is water on the fields, on the soccer fields?”
The fields are about six to ten feet lower than the roadway and the houses are even higher than the roadway. And she kept reassuring us, over and over, “Oh yeah, it looks fine, it looks fine.”
And mid afternoon, my husband and I are looking at each other, we’d been over to Donelson Christian [Academy] and we’d seen how they were just literally inundated and so we just said, “You know, we need to go by and see.” On our way to go back to Miami [Avenue] to give a hand if it was needed, we were going to just drop in. We got to the top of the hill and you’re probably not familiar with that area, but there is one of the steepest hills in Nashville. You come to the top of this and it’s where the land goes down into that lowland by the river and at the foot of the hill, it’s water. There’s no road, there’s no soccer field, it’s covered. And so we drove down close to the water, parked, and rolled up our jeans and hiked in, it was thigh deep. And so we ended up walking six blocks in. It’s just a series of little cul-de-sacs coming off of the street there, so we walked through the cul-de-sacs all the way to the end where my parents were and knocked on the door. And my father who has Alzheimers, not Alzheimers, it’s dementia probably Parkinsons-related, he answered the door and I’m talking to him and he’s saying, “Oh yeah, it’s raining.”
And I’m saying, “Well, Dad, it’s flooding, we need you to leave.”
“Can I cut you a bouquet of roses? Look how beautiful the roses are. ”
“Dad, they’re beautiful, we need you to get some things.”
So Mom and Dad, we gave them ten minutes. We said, “You’ve got to get out, the water is at the foot of your driveway.”
And I had no clue that her vision was such that she couldn’t discern that in the rain. So they packed a suitcase and we got to the front door. And I’m thinking to myself, “Dad can hardly walk from the car to the grocery store. How are we going to get him out those six blocks wading in thigh deep water?”
And about that time a little pickup truck came flying through. He’s weaving behind the houses between the trees and the yard ornaments and the swing sets, you know, he’s just weaving his way. And it’s this kid, nineteen, twenty years old. He says, “Does anybody need a ride?”
So he had just evacuated the one, a couple of their neighbors who were unable to walk. One was blind and one was seriously ill. So they hopped in and away we went. It was really cool because when we’d first gotten there, right before we’d parked, we said, “Well, let’s give it a try, I don’t know how deep it is.” And we’d gotten to where the water was up above the bumper and we were nowhere near to the low, the level that it was going to get. So we had backed up and we knew that we weren’t going to be able to drive in and here this kid, just with the brazenness of youth, I guess, came flying. You know, didn’t bother him to be driving through the yards and it was very cool. So we got them back and they actually ended up living with us for almost four months while their home was redone.
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