I am a lifelong resident of Nashville. During the first weekend of May this year, Nashville suffered what some have classified as a 500-year flood when 17 inches of rain fell in two days. Our previous two-day rainfall record was less than half of 17 inches. Every stream, creek, tributary, and river in the area rose above flood levels. There was not a person in Nashville that was not impacted in some way. Some lost their lives. Many lost their homes. Some lost their businesses. Others were stranded because they were surrounded by water and couldn’t leave. Many cars were stranded on the interstate because the roads were covered with water. Buildings floated down roads. If we were not affected directly, we were indirectly. I had two employees suffer significant damage. A relative of a competitor’s employee died when swept away by flood waters. The impact was beyond belief.
But Nashville survived. Our community united and, for the most part, unselfishly attacked the challenge of recovering. There was very little looting. Tennessee is the Volunteer State and we demonstrated why. Initially, volunteers helped with the demolition of flooded houses and caring for those individuals who became displaced. Subsequently, the community began looking beyond daily concerns and toward the future restoration of our community. We also had the help and support of many people from around the country. Many non-Nashvillians came to help us. Thank you!
This has been a less than splendid year for many of us. Nashville is no exception. Now, because of the flood, many of our businesses’ suffering increased. The CMA Music Festival is our largest tourism event of the year. It brings huge amounts of money to our community and many small businesses. For some, the CMA Music Festival is a make-or-break annual event. This event took place six weeks after the flood. Much of the area where the festival is held was flooded. A monumental amount of work had to be done in a very short timeframe. You can imagine how concerned all of us were. We wondered whether people would show up.
We did it. I am writing this one week after the CMA Music Festival ended. It set a record for attendance and revenue. Our hotels had a 95 percent occupancy rate for the week. Thank you to all who came. Thank you for all that support and help. We have not fully recovered but we are well on the way.
Often in business we face obstacles beyond our control. The attitude we have toward overcoming those challenges will determine how well we succeed. Character is not made in a crisis; it is just exhibited.
By the way, if you want to see how I am doing toward my goal of running 56 miles to celebrate my 56th birthday, click here.
—Bill Evans, president, Evans Glass Co., Nashville