The phones are ringing off the hook today, but this call was different.

“We’re on our way!” an emphatic voice said with great authority over the phone. Well, great, I said. What time are you going to get here? “We’ll be there by about six o’clock,” said the voice. It was three in the afternoon, normally closing time for the emergency supply center run by the Community Resource Center. Where are you coming from? “We’re coming from Dayton, Ohio!” Well, alrighty then. We’ll stay open.

That good old Southern phrase “took a notion” comes to mind. Sarah Smith, the voice over the phone, and the extended Smith family of Dayton, Ohio, just took a notion to collect emergency supplies for the flood victims of Tennessee. They created a website, Nashville TN Flood Relief, and asked for donations. They arrived in the largest U-Haul there is, one they obviously paid for out of their own pockets.

From left, Hillary Smith, Sarah Smith, Melody Deek, Jerry Smith, Kenny Williams

They didn’t create a strategic plan and the action steps to implement it. They didn’t assess who their stakeholders were. They just took a notion to provide help, gathered up supplies, got in the truck and drove.

It turns out the extended Smith family and Music City have something in common besides compassion. They love bluegrass. They are planning a bluegrass concert to raise money for the flood victims, many of whom are no doubt musicians. If you think Music City stops at the borders of Davidson County you are dead wrong.

In the last few days, some of us have wondered why the national media hasn’t put Middle Tennessee’s epic flood at the top of their breaking news list. Some people have suggested it’s because there’s no “bad” news. The flood is tragic news, of course. But we haven’t had looting. We haven’t had a breakdown in government response. Emergency crews, police, firefighters and volunteers have been everywhere. Everyone, everyone, has responded quickly and appropriately. The Southern way.

Today, the warehouse is filling up fast, thanks to people like the Smith family who just took a notion to help. The Community Resource Center loves the notion of an empty warehouse, of course. That means that emergency supplies are getting to the people who need them the most, our most fragile citizens.

“We’re on our way.” Yes, indeed, we are. As a city and region we are on the road to recovery.  Help has arrived, some of it from the most unexpected places.

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