Family’s travel plans altered
Posted: Monday, May 3, 2010 9:03 pm
By: Chris Menees, Staff Reporter
By CHRIS MENEES
Kelly Preuett saw God’s power firsthand a couple different ways Sunday.
She and family members were astonished by the power of swift-moving flood waters as they desperately tried to return home to Obion County from rain-swollen Nashville.
And they were amazed at how God worked to bring them back safe and sound.
“I have never experienced anything in my lifetime like it in the aspect of weather and travel,” Mrs. Preuett told The Messenger this morning.
She and her husband, Larry, and daughter, Billie Dee, were in Shelbyville for basketball games with several others from Obion County and knew by Saturday evening they would need to go home a different route due to I-24 being cut off from Murfreesboro to Nashville because of flooding.
According to Mrs. Preuett, the group went south Sunday morning and west to Lewisburg and traveled up I-65 to Nashville. They reached Nashville at 11 a.m. about two miles from the 40 East “Y” that they thought would take them to I-24 and up through Kentucky to avoid the closed roads.
“Traffic came to a halt and sirens whirred past us as rescue members closed 40 East,” she said. “We sat there for over an hour and they rerouted us to 40 West, which also was closed farther down. We got off the first exit in a frenzy of ball players in a caravan of six to seven vehicles and everybody getting off the interstate. Businesses were closing. We needed a map to look for alternate routes. We used every resource we had — GPS, computer, phones, state highway patrol friends, THP phone numbers — and everyone told us that there was no way out of Nashville.”
Mrs. Preuett said the caravan saw 40 West begin to move again and one of the parents decided to go and try that route. The group wanted to stay together and, as soon as possible, all started that direction.
“I was the last car and as soon as I saw the traffic slowing up ahead, my stomach began to get tight,” she said. “We sat in traffic again for another hour and 15 minutes, moving less than two miles. We took Exit 201 to Charlotte Pike, where we thought we would eat at Cracker Barrel and rethink our plan. By now, it was 2 p.m., raining all day, steady to heavy downpour. Cracker Barrel was closed.”
Mrs. Preuett said they were beginning to become concerned they might have to spend the night, but were still determined to try to get out of the Nashville area and return home. A local woman overheard them talking at a gas station and said she could take them through her subdivision to another pike that would lead them to I-24.
“So we went with her to another side of town, only to find when we got there that the road had just closed,” she said. “Everywhere we went, sirens could be heard and rescue vehicles were running up and down the roads. We couldn’t find a restaurant open. We finally decided to backtrack and go back down (Interstate) 65 to (Highway) 412 and cut across, knowing it was a risk because we already knew many roads were closed up around Jackson, Dickson, etc.”
In the meantime, Mrs. Preuett and her teenage daughter decided to purchase some “junk snacks to last us” at a gas station. While they were talking, a man from Stewart County overheard them and indicated he knew how to get to I-24 because he had come that way earlier to visit a friend at a hospital in Nashville.
“We decided to follow him out and he led us through back roads back around to 40 East, where we saw the people still sitting on 40 West stalled and out of their cars, frantic and worried, hanging over the dividing concrete wall in the median,” Mrs. Preuett said. “It made my stomach sick for them and thankful we were not still there.”
The group finally made it through flooded streets and back roads to the other side of Nashville — where the man helped them onto I-24. They were able to get back home to Obion County around 9 p.m. Sunday after having started their day’s journey 12 hours earlier at 9:30 that morning.
“Billie Dee pointed out to me the many ways God’s hand led us each step of the way to find that man who helped us out. He is amazing,” Mrs. Preuett said. “I am very humbled by the mercy of God to an undeserving sinner like me that He would be so personal and close to us yesterday, and we praised Him all the way home. We were totally amazed at the power of moving water and what we saw it do and the aftermath it left.
“We know of some of our group who stayed and others who got stranded on I-40 for hours and had to stay in hotels after they were finally able to get out,” she added.
Weathering the storm
Union City native Bradi (Fuzzell) Burnett, who now lives in Brentwood in the hard-hit Nashville area, said she and her husband, Ben, are fortunate in that they live on high ground.
“We have seen a lot of flooding around us,” she said, adding that phone service has been out because of the storms. “And Ben has had to work overtime (with the Vanderbilt Campus Police Department) because many of his fellow officers have lost their homes.”
As for her job at Opry Mills Mall in Nashville, she’s not sure what to expect since it’s located near the Cumberland River, where a lot of flooding has been reported.
“I can’t get through to anybody to find out if it’s open,” she said. “But if it is open, I’m not sure what route I would be able to take to get there anyway.”
In the meantime, she’s doing what thousands of others are having to do — keep up with it through news reports.
Messenger Editor David Critchlow Jr. and production staff member and photographer David Fuzzell also contributed to this report.
Published in The Messenger 5.3.10