A Flood of Inattention

Cumberland at Ashland City, TN in better days

Cumberland River near Ashland City, TN, in better days -- August, 2008

Ah, how nature can turn. The gentle, slow-moving Cumberland River and its tributaries have given us lots of comfort and beauty, and not a few catfish.

Last weekend (May 1 and 2, 2010), however, nature turned mean. A vast and unstoppable force, sometimes raging, and other times creeping, the Cumberland and its tributaries surged out of their banks and up miles of roads, in through thousands of front doors, stealing irreplaceable personal and public treasures, and destroying dreams and lives.

Flood water under Cumberland River Bridge

Flood water churns under the Ashland City bridge over the Cumberland, twenty feet higher than normal. 5/5/10

Riverview Restaurant/Campground, Ashland City, TN 5/5/10

There it met the water from the second day of rains flowing downhill, having saturated the surrounding ground to the point where it could absorb no more than a paved parking lot. Inconsequential creeks and streams became roaring whitewater monsters.

Take the most rain ever to fall in Nashville over 48 hours… and double it. At one point along the Cumberland, in better days, a relatively civilized river was a few hundred feet across. By Monday morning, after over a foot of rain, that same stretch of river had swollen to thousands of feet across, and it carried cars, livestock and whole buildings along at an astonishing pace. Structures that weren’t floated off their foundations were crushed under the weight and pressure of millions of tons of running water, pushing debris ahead like battering rams. Every crushed building, uprooted tree and floating car added to the mass that careened downstream, multiplying the flood’s destructive power.

As the flood waters recede – and they continue to recede, a week later — they leave behind mud, building materials, brush, dead things, an evil stench, uncatalogued contaminants and nightmarish memories that will last as long as the survivors.

The Army Corps of Engineers, which operates the system of dams, locks and generating sites along the Cumberland and other rivers in the region, had no experience to guide them in operating the flood gates and locks to best manage the water, because not since the completion of the system in the late ‘60s has so much rain fallen in so short a period. The best they could do for a few days was operate the system to keep the floods from destroying it, adding greatly to the surrounding destruction. That they did.

When I had time to watch national news, which was seldom, I was amazed at how little coverage was given to our situation. My amazement diminished when I thought about it.

I composed a “top-ten list” of reasons the lamestream media ignored this story:

10. Tennessee is a Red state. You could skip 9) through 1) now, and know all you need to know.

9. Al Gore didn’t call a press conference at his Nashville estate to blame the flooding on global warming.

8. People in Tennessee don’t sit around and wait for the gummint to give them a hand. They help themselves, and each other. No government dependency story, here, folks; move along!

7. New Orleans Progressive hack Ray Nagin is not the mayor of Nashville. Karl Dean is. Dean took personal responsibility for his city’s rescue and recovery, and was clearly in charge. No whining, no blame-shifting, just good communication and effective action.

6. People in Middle Tennessee cling to their bibles and guns. Looting makes good video, but it has not become a popular leisure-time activity here, because it is publicly frowned upon, and is likely to be fatal.

5. There is no way to blame it on Karl Rove, Halliburton or Dick Cheney.

4. CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS and CNN did not inform the hacks and opportunists in Washington of events in Tennessee, thus depriving them of timely photo opportunities against a backdrop of hapless victims and tireless aid workers. No one watches MSNBC, so coverage there would not have mattered, anyway.

3. There was no way to blame it on Wall Street speculators, Big Oil or Big Tobacco.

2. It’s hard for the race mongers to claim racism, since people of all races got wet, and people of all races were immediately helping each other, without waiting for government permission or coercion.

1. There was no way to blame it on George W. Bush.

It doesn’t matter much to locals to notice the way we were ignored by a crisis-hungry White House and its propaganda engine, but it certainly tells us who our friends are – and aren’t — and how we stand in the eyes of the current establishment.

It’s not hard to imagine. Some primped New York twit from a network morning show in fashionable raingear, trailing a camera crew and makeup artist, walks up to a Bubba dragging soggy, stinking carpet out the front door of his mobile, or searching for his lost goats in the trees, or carrying a dripping family photo album. The twit sticks a microphone in his face, and asks, “So, how do you feel? Don’t you wish Bush and Cheney had done more to prevent this?”

Considering the most reasonable reaction to the kind of stupid question said twits are capable of, maybe it’s just as well. There were enough casualties from the flood waters, without adding any New York twits to the body count. A jury of peers would acquit Bubba in five minutes, but the lawsuits would go on forever.

Stick your microphone where the sun don’t shine, New York twits. We’ll manage without you, somehow.

After all, we’ve managed up to now.

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28 Responses to “A Flood of Inattention”

  1. tyler Says:

    Good article. I am outraged at the scant media attention. I will give anderson cooper credit he did a show from nashville. Fox news on the other hand is pitiful as usual. I don’t watch the news on tv anymore so I couldn’t really say. I saw fox cover it almost forty five mintures into their broadcast. This is a lead story that should get no commercials like the times square bomber got.

    On a side note, once your side wakes up and realizes fox news isn’t much different from the rest you might get better candidates. Fox seems to be the network of mccain and george bush.

    • Tom Cox Says:

      Tyler, thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. I was mostly watching local (Nashville) stations during the emergency, but I did see a couple of items when I switched over to Fox, with video from their local affiliate. Missed the Anderson Cooper segment, because I never thought to tune in his network, whatsitsname…

  2. heidi Says:

    live in the middle of texas and i told two native Tenn. truck drivers about the flood as the water receeded. one was from Nashville until 6 months ago. they hadn’t even heard the news. i picked it up off the internet on independent new gathering and reporting sites that hosted this blog. forget tv all together. it is a mind killer. my prayers to you and oklahoma. we only got coverage for hurricane ike cause there are still robots here.

  3. Ruler4You Says:

    It’s weird how the main sleaze media has paid so little attention to this story while sensationalizing the oil spill. Can it be true that because it can’t be blamed on Bush it has no news value? or is it that it has no “propaganda” value? More and more it seems that the msm really are only propaganda tools for an increasingly obvious trend to embrace the proven failure of the socialist model. Why is it that the really rich celebrity types always want America to be socialist/Marxist communist rather than ‘free market’ capitalist? Tenn. is one of my favorite states because of the people and the beauty. I pray for them and await for the call to help.

    • Tom Cox Says:

      Point taken. In this media environment, news and propaganda are interchangeable terms, unfortunately.

      As to the rich, it depends, apparently… Vince Gill hosted a one-night telethon on Nashville’s WSMV TV that netted $1.5 million plus — $500,000 was donated by Taylor Swift. Let’s see, how are Vince, Taylor and a couple hundred other local millionaires different from, say — AL GORE? Al, where’s you donation?

  4. Frank Says:

    Theres not much coverage because its a mostly White place.

    If it were the ‘poor poor oppressed’ class EVERY AMERICAN would feel grief, but since theyre mostly White, who cares. You know the ‘poor poor oppressed’ class….theyre the ones with the cell phones, nicer vehicles than you, got all the high paying jobs without actually having to work for it, to which to you cant fire because youd be a (RACIST!!!). Theyre the ones that are protected against any foul lauguage but at the same time commit more hate crimes against the ones that seek protection for them, the ones that are forming a certain power of FORCE thorugh the government hiring system of police and Authority.

    Welcome to the diverse and multi-cultural society with Discarded-Americans.

    Whites dont have any concern for other Whites…so why should the minorities (one in office). Whites throw their destiny into the hands of ‘The few’ (13-15%) that holler at the top of their lungs, and have been for years, that they despise and resent White Americans.

    And now, people are surprised? People are in shock?!?!?

    Welcome to black rule. Welcome to black management. Welcome to Hell.

    http://www.amren.com/index.html Check that link out and ‘see’ what you dont.

    Remember one thing : As you play by the rules, they make their own as they go.

    • Tom Cox Says:

      Government is always force, which is why less of it is better for individual liberty and success.

      No administration has done a better job of race-baiting and Balkanizing than this one, doing more to divide people into favored and unfavored groups in one year than all previous administrations going back a century, to the Wilson era of government-driven racial discrimination.

      In their preferential treatment of some groups over others, they are making the Clintons look like amateurish, naive opportunists.

      As to Tennessee, I am from Indiana, and lived in New Mexico for a decade. In both states, I saw and experienced far more naked racism than here in Tennessee. Obamanoids, if you want to see post-racial America, come here, sit down, shut up, and pay attention to real life, for once.

  5. Ken Lord Says:

    Reason Al Gore, Tennessee’s idiot son, wasn’t heard from is nobody here thinks he’s relevant and we don’t want to hear the stupidity the flooding was caused by man made global warming.

    • Tom Cox Says:
        Of course.

      We know Big Fat Al is irrelevant. However, these narcissistic, preening buffoons are able to ignore our contempt. I was merely pointing out his conspicuous absence from the recovery effort in his hometown. He has an alibi, though… he and Tipper are checking out their new ($9M) digs on the California coast. Wait! Doesn’t he remember that area is about to be inundated with 20 feet of water when the ice caps melt? Al, save yourself! On second thought, never mind.

      Thanks for reading.

  6. Daniel Goodman Says:

    While I am in accord generally with what you say, I must demur slightly with your confidence in Mayor Dean- who has characterized himself as a progressive, but not withstanding that, as a lifelong Nashvillian and ardent conservative, I know, God-willing, that we will return better than ever from the flooding.

    • Tom Cox Says:


      Can’t pretend to be surprised, but I am disappointed to hear that. I defer to your judgment as a life-long citizen of Nashville, however. My assessment was based a on comparison of the outward appearance of Nagin vs. Dean, which is all I had to go on. On that basis, Dean is better, but look at the standard…. Hope the Lord continues to put a hand on the shoulder of Nashville and Middle Tennessee, and get us through this.

  7. Sheila Simmons Says:

    I was so NOT surprised to see nobody standing on the bridges, overpasses and rooftops with their hands out waiting for FEMA-copters to drop cheeseburgers from heaven! Hang in there Tennesseans…sun’s gonna shine again!

  8. Andrea Says:

    I was disgusted on how the media forgot Tennessee and the horrible flooding that was taken place. I did catch a few pieces here and there but NOT THE AMOUNT IT DESERVED.

    I drove through that very area last year, and we stayed in Franklin. I was scoping out houses, schools, churches and jobs. I am ready to come home to Tennessee and I love this area of Tennessee.

    With that being said I want to know why our media basically wrote off this HISTORICAL tragedy.

    I already cut my check to RED CROSS earmarked for Tennessee. As soon as my daughters are out of school we plan on coming in and helping out. God Bless Tennessee.

  9. Mike Says:

    Great column, Tom. It has been amazing to me how little attention this flooding has received. There was a similar situation last year when there was severe flooding in North Dakota with very little media attention. In both cases, there weren’t hapless victims waiting for FEMA rescues and handouts. There wasn’t looting, either. There were Americans coming together to help themselves and each other get through a difficult situation.

    It may not help much, but real America sees your situation and we appreciate and respect your resolve. And I will contribute to your relief effort for the very reason that Tennessee isn’t standing around begging for hand outs.

    • Tom Cox Says:

      Mike, I’m sure the lack of coverage and the lack of a large, protected victim class in both cases is not coincidental.

      Thanks for your good wishes for those who have suffered, and for your contributions, past and future.

      We will flourish.

  10. Valory Says:

    Tom, great article (good points, good laughs). I agree with you. The more I read and (seldom) watch our ‘leader’ and his government do their dark deeds to this country I am not surprised (although ashamed) that there was little news coverage. The first I heard of it (out here in the Seattle area) was on a Christian music station. And the only mainstream media I heard was of the devastation to the Grand Ole Opry (as for the rest of Nashville and surrounding flooded areas…nothing). This crisis shows just how much God is (or is not) left in our nation. And, how, as one race, the human race, can come together and help each. You and all affected are in our prayers.

    • Tom Cox Says:

      Valory, thanks for reading and for the prayers. We are fine, but plenty of people in TN, MS and AL were very much affected by the flooding and storms. They need prayers and contributions to charities like Salvation Army, Red Cross, etc. It will be a long, hard way out, and tornado season’s just getting warmed up.

  11. Cynthia Mayo Says:

    Great article! I have been through Tennessee several times in my life and it is a wonderfully beautiful state! I now have a friend that resides in Tennessee and on her FB my family and I found out about this terrible disaster. I too do not watch the propaganda of the Obama news networks, turns my stomach. But I am praying for All in Tennessee for a very fast recovery and knowing that the Lord has His hands on Tennessee! By the way, I am a Californian which is asking for prayer for our disaster here, it’s called the Democratic Party, vote em out! Again my prayers go out to Tennessee! God bless

    • Tom Cox Says:

      Cynthia, as I have said before, our neighbors around the area need your prayers and support. Thanks for reading.

  12. StaticKlingon Says:

    And when you’ve worked yourself down to a nub taking care of yourself,
    remember…….there are a host of government employees, welfare deadbeats, and not a few folks in the country illegally who would like a little attention too! And don’t be dragging your feet about it, either!

    Are we about fed up yet?

    • Tom Cox Says:


      To there.

      • StaticKlingon Says:

        An observation on the workings of Congress attributed to my hero, Davy Crockett: “Money with them is nothing but trash when it is to come out of the people. But it is the one great thing for which most of them are striving, and many of them sacrifice honor, integrity, and justice to obtain it.”

        The more things change, the more they stay the same.

      • Tom Cox Says:

        One of the best Congressmen ever. If you haven’t read it already, you might like http://www.juntosociety.com/patriotism/inytg.html

        “It’s Not Yours to Give”

        — A story all members of congress should be beaten until they can recite from memory.

  13. StaticKlingon Says:

    Yes, it should be chiseled into a hunk of granite in a conspicuous place, and etched indelibly into their brains with a frigging red-dot laser. 🙂

    The quote is actually the last sentence in that story….thanks for spreading the link. May it be contagious!

  14. Paul Says:

    spent monday through sunday in Nashville, working with samaritans Purse doing disaster relief….never had a chance to watch the news. Every person I met was so grateful for the help we could provide. I was blessed meeting such caring people who were taking care of themselves and their neighbors. I assisted some folks on Valleypark drive in Bellevue. Some of the nicest and most caring people you would ever want to meet. God bless you guys and I almost forgot, I am from New York. Were not all bad…..

    • Tom Cox Says:

      I’m not surprised at the quality of the people you met, and thanks so very much for your help.

  15. Tweets that mention A Flood of Inattention « Center of Mass -- Topsy.com Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Chad Miles, Vox America. Vox America said: TOP TEN REASONS why Tennessee flood wasn't covered in the media https://tomcox.wordpress.com/2010/05/10/a-flood-of-inattention/ […]

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