Spent the afternoon today at Millwood Manor, an apartment complex off Murfreesboro Road that only sounds like an estate in a Bronte novel.
Mill Creek winds around Millwood Manor, and apparently wound THROUGH the place last weekend.
It’s home to immigrants from Egypt, mostly, so Arabic translators were the most popular people in town as we tried to assess the needs of each family.
Fifty-eight apartments were flooded. There are about 42 brazillion kids running around the place, each one adorable except for one kid who was driving his dad berserkers. We traded a knowing look at one point, the international nod of total and complete irritation.
The language barrier made it tricky for us to understand the subtleties of what the families’ needs were, but the piles of dead carpet, dead mattresses, and dead furniture pretty much laid it all out for us. Needs? Beds, fans, food, clothes. Diapers. SO many diapers!
We got wind of a place not far away where the free diapers were flowing. The cases we brought back were gone in about eight minutes.
We handed out flyers that allegedly explained FEMA aid and cleaning hints. At least, I hope that’s what they said.
As I took a picture, one guy came up to me, waving his hands. “No YouTube!” he said with a huge grin. “No YouTube!”
I pointed to myself and said, “YouTube STAR! YouTube SUPERSTAR!”
He laughed. If only he knew how weird America–OK some Americans–can be. Maybe he does know . . .
My friend Heather had been to Millwood Manor the day before and concluded that sleeping on wet carpet was not so great. So this morning she raised money to buy sleeping bags and air mattresses for the families, who are going to have to move out so that the place can be renovated. I’m not at all persuaded that any renovation is going to be taking place at Millwood Manor anytime soon. As of today, not a single bit of drywall had been ripped out, a week after the flood. My brief experience with all this tells me that water inside walls is a recipe for trouble, in terms of both structural integrity and mold.
And the families are loathe to move out. So this afternoon we went shopping for 100 sleeping bags, pillows, and air mattresses.
This is 45. Coulda wedged another 30 in there but we cleaned out that particular Walmart.
I’m writing all this down so that I don’t forget it, and also to encourage you to donate to flood relief. Millwood Manor is the sort of place where this sort of aid will make a direct difference in people’s lives. One family we spoke with has been in Nashville for one month, out of Egypt. As we sat making notes, the lady of the house brought us coffee cups filled with Coca-Cola. We drank them, gratefully.
PS I hasten to add that it was Angela and Heather who were leading the charge today–knitters, both of them. Represent! And Chelle, Susie, Mary, and Paul were amazing. And the midwives from Vanderbilt, scouting for pregnant women. And the interpreters. It was a scene.