Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Previously unpublished photos of the May 2010 Nashville flood indicate urbanizing Bells Bend was and is an idea fraught with peril

Recently, Bells Bend advocate Sumter Camp sent me 2010 flood photos that he has had stored away for almost 5 years. With the 5th anniversary of the Great Nashville Flood a few months away, it is worth reconsidering the impact of the flood on various communities.

Parts of the May properties, which were originally proposed to become a "second downtown" sprawling across the Bend would have been underwater if the Planning Commission had approved the build. Given that buildings and other impervious surfaces displace flood waters, the 2010 flood waters would have likely pushed further into the Bend if May Town Center had been allowed. As Nashville Next sets new goals for infill that have the potential to drive lower income people out of city neighborhoods, we should expect increasing pressures to urbanize our vanishing agricultural villages like Scottsboro/Bells Bend. The flood is a cautionary tale instructing us to organize and to push back against such pressure.

Advocates for protecting our agricultural areas like Bells Bend share complimentary interests with urban activists who demand affordable housing and rent controls in city neighborhoods. They should be building bridges to one another for the sake of common cause.

The caption descriptions are paraphrases of Sumter's own descriptions. I am grateful to him for giving us yet another look back at the 2010 catastrophe.

Cumberland River at the bottom with the right-hand bank
just outside of the last curving row of trees.
The power lines cross the southern-most corner of the May property.

Looking the opposite direction of the preceding photo.
John Tune Airport is at upper right. Charles Bass Prison is just below it
and to the right (water in between all of the pods).

Southern end of the Bend looking west. Old Hickory Blvd runs from right to left
just above the centerline of the photo. Partially flooded I-40 lies beyond.

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