I would say if you don’t know what happened last weekend you were in a cave, but, even then, your cave would have filled up with water. I thought so many times that I had never seen rain like this in my life. There was nothing to compare it to. Corky assured me that he had never seen anything like it either. I have heard this is the type of flooding that happens every 500 years or maybe even every 1,000. Think of that. Floods like this may not have happened in the entire time Europeans have been here. It is an interesting feeling to know you are witnessing something so infrequent. You may be the only one 30 or 40 generations who ever see something like this. We look back with respect to people who endure times like last weekend. Earthquakes, droughts, depressions, wars—we look back sometimes and feel inadequate compared to those before us who made it out. We wonder what they know that we couldn’t possibly know. Then a flood comes along that might predate writing in North America.
At Lakeshore, we had damage, but considering many in Tennessee, we got off easy. A retaining wall failed above the basketball court at the old pool site. We found that nearly every building at camp will leak if it is blasted non-stop with water for days. Our waterfront has been relocated. One nice side of that is that you don’t have to walk quite as far to get to it. The soccer field is almost completely underwater. We have had herons, cottonmouths, and geese taking meditative strolls over our prayer labyrinth this week. If you stood next to the waterfront cross, you would likely find yourself completely submerged under water. There are things here I have never seen and may never see again.
Over the weekend we had three groups: Middle Tennessee Camp Bluebird, Alpha Sigma Iota from UT Martin, and Counselor Certification. On Sunday (when all three groups were slated to leaver), all of the certification members managed to get home. The other two groups, were not so lucky in having a route home. Both groups stayed until Monday afternoon. I often hear campers at Lakeshore who don’t want to go come up with crazy scenarios that might enable them to spend more time at camp. I don’t think, though, I’ve ever heard someone talk about Tennessee flooding so much that guests are stranded. We made the best of it, though, eating leftovers and putting off worries of flooded houses and missing cars. One thing is for certain, those who shared the experience this weekend will not soon forget it. What it means to them, I guess they probably need some time to think on. I’m glad we were able to give them some comfort, though.
On Tuesday, I could not wait to hop a canoe and go exploring. There is water deep into the woods where there is normally dry land. I think about this and wonder if I will ever get a chance to canoe through these woods again. I had to wade to our boat house to get a life jacket and paddle. Then I had to swim out to our canoe rack, which was almost completely submerged. I loosened the cable holding the canoes, and the rack began to collapse. It would float over to another part of the waterfront. I took my canoe out into a cove normally a small drainage creek, and I could see far back into the woods a path of water. I also noticed several boards together (there is so much debris out here, I don’t know how long it will take to clean it). Upon further inspection, I realized that it was one of our waterfront picnic tables that had floated away. I could not stand to leave it, so I tied it to my canoe and began rowing. If you’ve never tried to paddle a canoe and heavy picnic table down river, let me tell you, it’s quite the work-out. I tried paddling from the canoe, paddling while sitting on the table, I tried swimming it, and then I tried walking it. I realized I could not touch the ground in this area (remember that this area is normally dry land, at most a very shallow creek). I wanted to see how deep it was, so I put my paddle down, then stood on the end of the paddle and pushed it down with my feet. The paddle never touched the bottom. That is the only picnic table accounted for. There are at least 5-7 more somewhere, a trash can box with 3 trash cans, and one escaped canoe also missing.
The next day, I went exploring in the canoe some more, and I paddled into the state park. I found myself canoeing the blue trail of the state park, a trail I normally run 3 times a week. I paddled by trees at heights I normally would not be able to reach. My boat passed in between the trunks of very large trees. Squirrels jumped from branch to branch of trees whose trunks were completely submerged. I paddled my way through a culvert that runs under Pilot Knob Road. I wonder what this will do to these trees. I wonder if these trees will make it if the water stays very long. There are some fairly old, large trees submerged in 10-20 feet of river. It is a completely different world taking a canoe among them. This, again, is something I may never find myself doing again.
So many things have happened this week that have affected people deeply. Much has been lost. It has derailed schedules. It has broken hearts. There is much that will not soon be understood. We see these images in front of our face and we want a clear emotion that we can justify. Should we be angry? Should we be sad? Should we mourn? Do we go on? Or do we stop and tarry longer, in awe? What could God be saying? When will we be calm enough to listen? There are powers greater than us. We saw them in many ways this week. We saw things we may never see again. I pray that when these waters calm, when we step to the river’s edge and we do not find ourselves gasping for air, that we are stronger. I pray that we will offer our hands to all those in need and we create something new. I pray that we become something worthy of the respect of those generations to come.
Pray for so many who have lost so much. Pray for the family of Sam Bomar who died this week. Sam was part of Lakeshore’s family, and we mourn as a family this week for a lost brother. Keep Tyler Frye, his good friend, in your prayers as well. This week at Lakeshore will be taking a two week break, because Troy is traveling abroad for the first time. Have no fear, we’ll be back May 28th to tell you all about the first week of camp. Take good care.