Sunday night, I was watching aerial footage on T.V. of the Cumberland River rising. The helicopter headed out of downtown and toward CRC. I stared and stared, waiting to see what the building looked like. Just as the chopper was a block away…it turned back. I screamed. Mark, my husband, said he was going over to CRC to take a look. I was too freaked out.
“Sir, can I help you?” asked a man in waders near the rising water when Mark got there. “That building at the end of the street…it’s my wife’s,” said Mark. The man was Matt Church, the hazardous materials manager for West Nashville Emergency Spill Response. He was there trying to get a fleet of 18-wheelers to safety and offered to slug through the oily water and give Mark a close assessment of the building. He saw the look on Mark’s face. “How am I going to tell my wife?” And when he got back, Matt handed Mark a soggy business card and said if he could help he would.
This is my new favorite boyfriend, Matt. I hope this doesn’t come as a shock to his wife and children. But I will tell you right now that there is nothing more important than a remediation man in Nashville right now. Of course, I called Matt immediately after I got that card. He was working on two hours sleep. He said he would call me the next day. I didn’t hear from him. I worried that I never would. The phone rings at 7:45 p.m. Monday night. It is Matt Church. He has been working all day to save a truck stop company. He actually apologized for calling so late.
I met him at the building today. Well not at the building. About three blocks from the building. With all that water in between. He was calm and reassuring. That was after calling our disaster Hurricane Katrina but in Nashville. He should know. He did coffin retrieval in New Orleans after the flooding. He also worked at Ground Zero in New York. I think I have the right man here.
The water has receded another foot or so. You can see the bushes at the front of the building. Matt tells me that when the area is dry, we’ll go inside and Betsy, myself and some volunteers will assess what we can save and what we have to throw away. He says I will be emotional. I hope I’m not. But I might be. All the basic necessities we could have given to people in desperate need. That’s what Betsy and I intended to do this week. We had cases of toilet paper, for God’s sake.
Betsy’s on the case, though. She volunteered to help Hands On Nashville administratively today. They’re buried in volunteers (great thing!) with too small a staff to direct all of them. It turns out people have called to donate items, too. But there’s no one to coordinate that. Betsy told them if she can find the warehouse space, we’ll coordinate that for them. Maybe we’ll be back in the giving stuff away business. That would feel good.
There are many, many pieces to this puzzle that Betsy, myself, our board, volunteers and supporters are putting together right now. Too many pieces it seems at times. But a giant one is in place. My new favorite boyfriend, Matt. Thanks to my always and forever husband, Mark.