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Nashville Sees Worst Flooding In Over A Decade. A Least 4 People Dead


Nashville is still drying out from one of the highest rainfalls to ever hit that city. Seven inches of rain caused rivers and creeks to crest so high, homes and roads brimmed with water, and at least four people died. Samantha Max of member station WPLN reports.

SAMANTHA MAX, BYLINE: Corey Long's nine-month pregnant wife was trying to get some rest in their guestroom when he says the water started pouring through the doorframes like the Titanic.

COREY LONG: It was really scary. I mean, to be 100% honest, there were definitely a couple of moments where I was like, this is not good.

MAX: They called the police, grabbed their two pugs and ran to the attic, where they waited in the darkness for about two hours.

LONG: One of us has got one dog. The other's got the other. And we're just kind of telling each other that we love each other. And it's terrible to talk about, honestly. It wasn't fun at all.

MAX: Long and his wife are two of the 130 people rescued from the flash floods. Swift water rescue teams created after another flood in 2010 evacuated drivers trapped in cars and residents stuck in submerged homes. A police officer was hospitalized after injuring himself during a water rescue. When the water started sweeping down the street like a river, Gregg Lebel got in his truck and started driving around to warn his neighbors. Many had been asleep, completely caught by surprise.

GREGG LEBEL: It was kind of sketchy. The water was already blasting across the roads at that point. But it was - I've got a 4-by-4, and it was up to the bottom of the truck already. So I was just driving around, see if anybody needed any help getting out and making sure people were awake.

MAX: Lebel had just moved into his home before the last massive flood in 2010. And he didn't expect to live through two historic storms in just over a decade. He says he doesn't have flood insurance, so he'll be paying for the damage to his backyard out of pocket. But Lebel says he has no plans to move away even if there's a risk the creek that runs through his neighborhood could overrun again.

LEBEL: It happens. You know, it's just like if you get hit by a tornado, you're not going to pack up and move to the desert because (laughter), you know, a tornado hit your neighborhood.

MAX: Lebel says the community is tight-knit. All along the block, neighbors, relatives and friends turned out to pump water from submerged basements, hose away streaks of mud and haul armfuls of shirts and shoes and furniture into the open air. They've been through floods before, and they came together to clean up the wreckage just like they did the last time. For NPR News, I'm Samantha Max in Nashville.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Samantha Max covers criminal justice for WPLN and joins the newroom through the Report for America program. This is her second year with Report for America: She spent her first year in Macon, Ga., covering health and inequity for The Telegraph and macon.com.