Sunday, May 2, 2010


Hello all - 

After a very strange - and long - Saturday, I have some sad news but a happy ending. My Dad's house, the place I grew up and still consider home, was struck by lightning tonight and is almost completely gone. The bright side, and yes, there always is one, is that both he and his dog were not there and no one was hurt.

Tonight was the Jimmy Buffett concert in downtown Nashville. Jason got tickets to this show for his bday in March and we had secured Daddy as a babysitter for tonight. We had been out Saturday morning and then were home, watching the news, all afternoon, keeping an eye on the storms. Never did they mention in their occasional references to flash flooding that we - Middle Tennessee, Nashville, Brentwood, Franklin - were experiencing some of the worst flooding in my lifetime. 

So we took off for Daddy's house at 3 pm this afternoon with a bag packed for Bird. I grabbed Bonnie, our little pound puppy, at the last minute and brought her along for the ride as she was freaking out from the storm. Imagine our surprise when we encountered a road in our neighborhood that was completely under water and we had to turn around. You all have seen the news, the pictures and the videos by now so I won't verbally paint the picture for you. It took us about an hour and 45 mins to get to Brentwood, a drive that normally takes 17 mins. By the time we finally got to Daddy's house, which is located across the street from the Little Harpeth River, we knew we weren't dropping Bird off but, rather, were picking HIM up. During my last call, as he was describing how fast the water was rising and that it had gone from the street to his mailbox to his yard to his doorstep, I instructed him to pack a bag and grab the dog. They got in our car and back we went to our house in Franklin. Another hour in the car, now with an anxious Calleigh, two dogs and some questions about our plans for the evening.

We decided to try to get to the concert but knew we would need to leave asap. We got home, changed clothes, gave some cursory instructions for the babysitter and ran out the door, leaving Daddy with no car (Jason's is at FRA where we rode together Friday) and a barely stocked fridge.

65 North was still a mess heading out of Franklin but we got to Harding Place and zipped right into downtown. We arrived in time to grab a quick bite and then head to the arena. The show started at 8:00 PM. At appx. 8:45, Jason pulled his phone out to take a picture and noticed a text message from Daddy. It read "neighbors called my house is on fire damn." We jumped up and ran down the stairs and out into the concession area to call him. He had sent the message just a few minutes after the concert began. He didn't know much. Said one of the neighbors had heard something, saw it, called 911 and then called him. The way they described it to him and he to us was that it was a fire contained mostly in the garage. We asked him what he wanted to do and he assured us he had no intention of going over there tonight so we stayed and finished our concert, planning fully on swinging by and doing a drive by of his house on the way home.

As we pulled onto his street, we had to take a detour due to the water still being over the road, and then as we came up another side street, noticed fire engines still nearby. Apparently, they had done a first round of putting it out but had to come back as it sparked up again. Jason and I sloshed across a soggy yard with water up over our ankles. I noticed some items in the yard/water that shouldn't have been there - specifically, I noted a mason jar. Later, I found out from the firemen that these items had been in the garage and had been strewn all over when the EXPLOSION happened.

Their best guess right now is lightning struck the house at the garage, started a fire and then it was just a bomb waiting to go off between the 2 cars, lawn mower, gas cans, gas water heater and gas line running under the house to power the washer and dryer plus the grill on his patio. It's an old 60s, one story, ranch house and about 1/2 of it is still what they call "structurally sound," meaning might be able to be salvaged. The entire garage is gone, just a shell, with what looks like two shells of cars sitting in it. The roof is gone as is the the huge attic that was above. The next three rooms are soaked from firehoses and rain (as there is no roof over them either) so the kitchen, dining room and living areas are gone. The remainder of the house (bathrooms, 3 bedrooms and the office) were spared from the actual fire/explosion but have serious soot/ash damage and have that awful smoke smell.

Anything plastic anywhere in the house is gone as is just about anything paper. Also counted among the items that are now just a memory:  Mom's wedding dress, 2 cedar chests full of pictures from both Mom and Daddy's side of the family, almost all of my baby/childhood pictures, any remaining clothing of Mom's that Daddy hadn't already donated to Goodwill through the years and countless other items that I may or may not have known of and just thought "I'll go through them someday."

But all of that is material, through and through. The true blessing and what literally brought me to my knees tonight as I first took it all in was the events leading up to tonight and what prevented my Daddy and my daughter from being in that house when all of this happened. About 16 million "what if's" ran through my head. And I offered up praise and thanksgiving to my God, my Saviour, for sparing these two tonight. They would have most certainly been in the affected part of the house had everything gone as planned this evening.

I don't know what the next hours, days, weeks, months will hold for us. One thing is certain: a lot of uncertainty. But we will get through it. Together. Because that's what family does. Daddy has the clothes he threw in that little suitcase when we evacuated him, his dog and his watch. Everything else is gone. His cars. His lawn mower. His appliances and all the food in the house. His computer. His Scotch. His coffee maker. His golf clubs. Gone.

Please pray for us and especially him as we begin the difficult task of rebuilding.