As the historic flood waters began to rise last Sunday evening in downtown Nashville, a group of anxious men weighed their options from a staircase overlooking the parking lot of The Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Center.
“We didn’t think it was that serious, until we saw this wall of water rushing down the street,” said JaRon Britton, one of the program’s participants. “We kept saying that we’d leave when the water reached the railing or when it reached the door, but we really thought it would stop.”
As the hours passed, the water continued to rise and the electricity began to go in and out in the building. It became apparent to the men that a decision had to be made. They stuffed their valuables into garbage bags and formulated a plan to lock arms and try to swim out together. “I knew that water was over my head,” said Bennett. “I thought I was going to die Sunday night.”
Just then a boat appeared in the street. Rescue workers ferried the men in groups to higher ground. Since then, the men have been housed at The Salvation Army’s Magness-Potter Community Center in another part of the city. Remarkably, over half of the men have agreed to a transfer to The Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Center in Memphis to continue their recovery.
“It’s a historic event for us and it’s a miracle,” said Captain August Pilsbury, Administrator of the Nashville Adult Rehabilitation Center. “It’s a miracle that everyone got out alive and it’s a miracle that so many of them are willing to do whatever it takes to complete their program.”
The men gathered Wednesday evening for their last meal together before their departure on Thursday morning. It was a sad occasion, as many were saying goodbye, but it was also a celebration of their friendships, their rescue and their hope for a new future.
“They can move me to Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis, wherever,” said Britton. “God has given me a second chance and I’m going to continue what I started.”
The Center itself, located on First Street in Nashville, is completely ruined. The first floor was under more than five feet of water. Many from the staff are staying in Nashville to begin the work of cleaning and repairing the center. They hope to have it open and functioning in three to four months.
“I don’t know if we’ll see each other again down here,” said one program participant. “But one thing I do know is that, because of the ministry of The Salvation Army, we’ll all see each other again in glory.”
Here in Tulsa, we are so proud of this strong group of men who have overcame so much and continue to persevere, working hard to meet their goals!