Nashville

So it looks like the RWA National Convention won’t be in Nashville. Folks have been informed that their reservations at the Gaylord Opryland have been cancelled, and RWA National is working on potential new locations – so don’t be calling the travel agent or anyone else for that matter. We’ll hear eventually.

While I totally understand that it’s impossible to hold a convention in a flood-ravaged city, I had hoped to spend a few bar-drenched dollars in Nashville to help the city recover. I can’t even imagine how many jobs the Gaylord’s closing alone will affect, much less the museums, libraries, and other businesses downtown that are now temporarily part of the Cumberland River.

So, how can you help? Let’s start:

The Nashville Red Cross is operating several shelters around the Nashville area. And you can donate via text message, if you want.

At Hands On Nashville, you can sign up for volunteer opportunities – once the site is back online, anyway.

According to the Nashville Business Journal, every Kroger in Middle Tennessee is accepting food donations and supporting the Second Harvest of Middle Tennessee food bank’s relief efforts.

The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee has a pile of options for donation and assistance.

Eventually we’ll hear where RWA National will be – and it’s not like it’s tomorrow so we can wait to hear. There are three other Gaylord properties so if, as the Gaylord email stated, they will attempt to reschedule the Opryland conferences to other Gaylord hotels, we could end up in Florida, Texas, or Maryland – which is all fine by me. It’ll be fun wherever it is.

But right now, Nashville is reeling, from both loss of life and property, and a the damage of lost tourism for months ahead. This was totally unpredictable and no one could have forseen this would happen.

Are you in Nashville or near by? What’s going on near you? Hope you and yours are ok.

ETA: One more thing you can do: not call RWA. Seriously. If you are holding the phone in your hand intent on calling to yell as to why you heard from the hotel before hearing from RWA about the 2010 conference, please do the following. Put the phone down. Fill your home with 10 feet of river water. Then see if that’s what you want to shriek about. Honestly.

I was really bothered at the statement released by RWA’s executive director criticizing the decision of the hotel to cancel reservations without notifying the conference organization. I found it to be unnecessarily critical given how much disaster Nashville is dealing with.

But come on now. RWA has updated their site, emailed every member, and communicated as fast as they can.  If you’re calling RWA to yell at them because you don’t know where you’re going… in July? I got some suggestions where you can go. Starting with to the nearest river. To get ten feet of water. To put in your home. Here’s a bucket.

Categorized:

General Bitching...

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  1. 1
    Kalen Hughes says:

    I was whipshit pissed off at the statement released by RWA’s executive director criticizing the decision of the hotel to cancel reservations without notifying the conference organization.

    Sorry, but I’m with RWA’s ED on this one. I have no expectation that the poor staff in Nashville should have done anything at all, but the Gaylord chain’s staff in one of the other locations you mentioned should have, and could have, handled this better. There’s nothing insensitive about expecting a national chain to handle their business professionally.

  2. 2
    Jayne says:

    Sarah,

    Thank you so much for posting those links and for being understanding. I’m in Nashville and it feels like we’ve been neglected by the national media. Shelters are full, we’re in the middle of a water conservation crisis, missing people are unaccounted for, so many homes and businesses are still under feet of water, and much of our economy has been threatened in ways we won’t fully understand until the Cumberland starts to recede. My house was flooded ankle-deep and I was LUCKY.

    Kalen, I’m sorry that Gaylord didn’t meet your expectations of professionalism, but come on. Their national headquarters is in Nashville and is flooded. We would much rather have the convention (and the money that comes with it) in town than somewhere else. We’re in the middle of the worst natural disaster to ever hit our city, a 500 year flood, and as Sarah pointed out, we’ve got other things on our mind right now. Like, say, trying to make sure we have enough drinking water to last through the week.

  3. 3
    Kalen Hughes says:

    As I’ve already stated: I didn’t expect anyone in NASHVILLE to deal with anything, so please don’t make it out like I did.

  4. 4
    Rhonda Marks says:

    I’m praying for the people in the Nashville area. The media was focusing so much on the oil spill and what happened in NYC, they forgot about the flooding.

    As far as where the conference is relocated, it really doesn’t matter to me. If we have to go with another Gaylord property, I’d like it to be DC (driving distance for me).

  5. 5
    Rebyj says:

    I’m in Nashville as well. The red cross is doing an incredible job from what I hear. All of the shelters are full and some churches are now setting up shelters. The media attention shocked me when we finally got electricity back today. I watched CNN and msnbc for an hour and saw no coverage at all other than a scroll at the bottom.
    Personally. We got off easy. We are on a hill and only had our basement flooded about a foot and a half as well as back wall of house leaking some at floor level. Our biggest loss was our 18 year old Pomeranian that snuck out while the doors were opened to help dry out. A stray coming up the hill to get away from the flooding attacked him and he had to be euthanized. He was a great family dog that spent many years traveling the USA with my kids grandad . He will be missed and I want to thank again the reading community who responded with sympathy and good thoughts on twitter.
    Electricity is still sporatic and we can’t wash clothes or use much water yet. I am SO disappointed that RWA is not going to be held here. I was looking forward to meeting everyone!
    Everyone nearby please stay safe.

  6. 6
    Katie Ann says:

    My brother-in-law had to drive back to Fort Campbell (Army base just north of Nashville) yesterday from Texas, and I hadn’t even heard anything about flooding until he posted something on Facebook.  He said they pretty much shut down all activities on base due to no one being able to get there.

  7. 7
    Polly says:

    I’m also in Nashville. I’ve been amazed at how little media attention there’s been. I’ve never seen flooding like this before, not in a city center. Downtown and other places are still a mess (though at least the Cumberland crested yesterday and is receding now). I’m one of the very lucky ones; the basement flooded a few inches, but we’re fairly elevated, and are in a part of town that only got 14 inches of rain, not 20. I was out Saturday afternoon in Bellevue (one of the worst hit areas), with no real idea how bad it already was, and almost got stranded four miles from home because almost every damn road back into Nashville was already washed out at 3 pm Saturday afternoon. Once I got home and put the news on, I realized how lucky I was to get home at all—the next day, they were rescuing people from Bellevue by boat.

    Now, Nashville, except for near the river, looks almost back to normal. The roads are dry and mended—hurrah for the road crews, who have been amazing. Despite appearances here, however, there’s still a lot of concern about the water treatment facilities. One treatment facility flooded, and they haven’t been able to even figure out the damage there yet. So, for the foreseeable future, we’re on “the water’s safe to drink in Nashville, but please don’t use it for anything other than drinking/cooking and bathing when absolutely necessary.”

    It’s pretty humbling to have a major natural disaster that the rest of the country doesn’t even seen to know about—I mean, part of me keeps expecting lots of concerned phone calls about how bad it is, and is everyone ok, etc. Instead, when friends and family have called, I’ve said that we’re fine, and they’ve said, “what do you mean? Was there a problem?” Pretty dispiriting, since I figure bragging rights are about the fun thing to come out of natural disasters.

  8. 8
    Polly says:

    doh—I mean, the only fun thing to come out of natural disasters.

  9. 9
    Suze says:

    Wow.  It was all over the news in Canada over the weekend.  I live in a flood zone, and we wait breathlessly every spring to see how wet we’re going to get (every 10 years or so, the broken ice on the main river jams up and the flow from all the little rivers backflows right into my poorly-thought-out neighbourhood).  All you wet people have my sympathy.

  10. 10

    Do we really need to identify who must get the finger of shame pointed at them?

    Nashville is in a crisis situation. People not in Nashville—such as every other Gaylord property, which will suddenly be inundated with conferences, and RWA itself—are also in crises, although admittedly less exigent ones. Nobody’s going to be thinking through 100% of the repercussions of what they say.

    Given a choice between Gaylord acting promptly to inform their customers, and their not saying anything, I’m glad Gaylord erred on the side of prompt response.

    Likewise, given a choice between RWA sending prompt clarifications to its membership, and it proofreading everything for perfect tone, I pick promptness again.

    I doubt anyone who deals with this stuff in Gaylord—anyone with authority in their company, whether in Nashville or no, is sleeping much. I doubt Allison Kelley is, either. We are all nitpicking details of professionalism from the sidelines, when in fact both organizations have been very good at providing information as soon as it is available. Given the circumstances, that’s extraordinary.

  11. 11
    Sandy says:

    How incredibly rude of members to callously call RWA to complain!  Haven’t they seen pictures of the Opryland Center?  Holy crap!  The place is underwater!  We had some major flooding in central Indiana last year.  I had waterfront property in an area we used to joke that if it flooded, everyone should be building an ark.  There’s STILL clean up going on in some areas.  No way Nashville can be back to business as usual in July.  Give ‘em a break!!

    My heart goes out to Nashville (and the Gulf Coast while I’m at it.)  I hope things get better for you real soon!!

  12. 12
    tricia says:

    I wonder if the refunds (considering there must have been thousands of them, stretching many months into the future) were contracted out in some way, and maybe they’re being processed by some completely uninvolved data-services company? I feel like the Gaylord not contacting RWA is a pretty forgivable oversight.

    And—are people *seriously* calling RWA to complain? That seems… tacky.

  13. 13
    Spider says:

    I’m in Memphis, we’re the lucky ones, and it’s still bad here.  Just nowhere near as bad as Nashville.  There is severe flooding in our greater metro and county areas.  Our foodbanks and houses of worship are already taking in donations here, both for local and statewide relief. Tennessee never seems to make national news (http://tiny.cc/uinux see: Aftermath), but locally people in the midsouth are reaching out.

    @Kalen Hughes:  Regardless of your opinion of how the hotel handled the situation (and given that the nat’l hq are in Nashville and are flooded, I imagine that someone not normally empowered to make the decisions had to do so, whether from Nashville or another location), may I suggest that your statement may have been poorly chosen for posting in a forum that many readers & potential bookbuyers read every day?  Even with your disclaimer about not expecting people in Nashville to do much under the circumstances, it still comes off as callous.

    There are obviously (by virtue of the phone calls that have happened) people who agree with you.  But voicing your thoughts in the comments to a post that clearly is sympathetic to Nashville—even asking who’s out there and what’s going on there—seems ill-advised.  It tends to turn people off, and I can’t imagine that’s what you want.

  14. 14
    Bert says:

    My heart goes out to everyone in Tennessee. Though I have not spent much time there, it is a lovely state, and my place of birth. It is unfortunate that so many catastrophes are happening at the moment, it makes it hard to keep track of all of the suffering.

    On another note, I must say I agree with Spider. Ms. Hughes may not have intended to sound so careless about the horrible situation that the residents of Nashville are facing, but it certainly came off that way to me. And I’ll be honest, it did impact my feelings about reading her work. It always annoys me when people make a slight personal inconvenience sound like a massive tragedy, especially in light of an actual tragedy.

  15. 15
    Kati says:

    I’m not attending RWA, but I am a professional meeting planner. I can tell you that most likely, RWA has conference insurance. After 9/11, most associations purchase it. As someone else referenced, it is unlikely that RWA can cancel their meeting altogether if their bylaws require the meeting and some sort of a quorum.

    Also, I’ll just say, that RWA is a good sized conference with many movable parts, and it’s not really all that easy to just pick up a conference and place it at a different hotel, especially given the number of concurrent sessions and the literacy signing, which requires a very large space. On top of that, the other Gaylord properties have all been selling space at their hotels, so unfortunately, it may not be as easy as it sounds to just move the conference to another property.

    I will say, as someone who has spent over a decade in non-profit, that as a bystander, I’m very impressed with how RWA and Gaylord have handled this ongoing disaster. I thought that they mobilized very quickly to attempt to mitigate the concerns of their constituents. While I understand that RWA would have liked a call from Gaylord to inform them that they would be refunding deposits on hotel rooms to their conference attendees, I still say that Gaylord acted quickly, especially given that they are actually operating their National Sales office from the disaster site.

    It’s a tough line to walk for both parties. Everyone has an investment in the conference happening: RWA, Gaylord, and the attendees. I can almost guarantee that RWA will figure out an alternative. And I can also almost guarantee that there will be some who will not be happy with the decision. But speaking as someone who works in the events business, I can tell you that there are many associations and hotel chains that would be unable to react as quickly as both RWA and Gaylord did – their quick action is to their credit.

  16. 16

    My thoughts are with everyone affected by this disaster; those who have lost loved ones, homes, pets, livelihoods, and those who are struggling to recover from the myriad of ways in which the disaster has disrupted lives and plans. I think we’re all pretty understanding of the immense challenges facing the staff of organisations such as the Gaylord and RWA, even if occasionally our words don’t convey that perfectly.

    I’m not sure yet whether I will be able to travel to the US this year, but I’m holding on to a small glimmer of hope that I’ll be able to, wherever the conference will be held. And, while I can only imagine the immensity of reorganising such a huge conference at such short notice, I hope there might be some room in the revised schedule (and venue) for some fund-raising for the rebuilding efforts in Nashville.

  17. 17
    Karen W. says:

    Great post!  Since I live in a hurricane/flood zone (south Florida) and Nashville is one of my favorite places, I appreciate it.

    I remember after the disaster in Haiti people were complaining that the coverage was interrupting their TV shows!  I mean, seriously?!? 

    My thoughts are with everybody in TN.

  18. 18
    Maria says:

    I just wanted to say I love this blog. I especially liked reading the greatest hits reviews, wow, just wow.

    My prayers go out to the people in Nashville. Maybe it’s because I get my news from the radio, but it seems that the oil spill, the flood, and the attempted bombing in NY are getting equal coverage on the news sources that I frequent.

    Thanks again for all the snark :)

  19. 19
    Bonnie C says:

    My thoughts are with you folks in TN – stay safe and dry (if you can)!

    I don’t pay a lot of attention to the news so the first I heard of the flood was an email from RWA stating that due to the disaster things were up in the air but they would keep everyone posted, and so far I think they’ve done a good job of that. Yes, the tone of the email Sarah mentioned sounded a little snippy, but I have to agree with Kati who pointed out that a conference of this size is no small undertaking. I’m sure the RWA was getting panicked calls from members who got the Gaylord Hotel email about the cancellations right on top of the RWA email advising us to be patient because it’s only been like 24 hours or something.

    Frankly, if the conference doesn’t go off as planned, I’m only out $900 (ish). I am alive, my family is safe, and my habitat bone dry. I consider myself very lucky.

  20. 20
    Karen says:

    Having lived through dealing with the HQ in New York being in the circle of destruction that was 9/11 and the rest of us satellite offices scrambing just to bring up systems, recentralize coordinating efforts elsewhere, assess workload redistribution and get the DC office (which was also shut down for a week because of its proximity to the White House) back online, I can understand it taking a whole entire work day before Gaylord could notify customers of cancelled reservations.

    Even when you have contingency plans in place, it still takes time to implement them and iron out all the kinks that inevitably pop up no matter how many times the system gets a test drive.  If the HQ was in Nashville, then Gaylord had to find somewhere else to centralize management and decision making capabilities for operations for the other satellite properties.  I just don’t see they’ve done that badly.

  21. 21
    Tawna Fenske says:

    For fuck’s sake, people are dying and we’re worrying about where the RWA conference will be held?

    You could go here instead. And, yanno, find out how to help:
    http://dothewritethingfornashville.blogspot.com/

    Tawna

  22. 22
    Elizabeth says:

    Thank you for your prayers!

    Nashville has been hard hit, and as you’ve read/seen/heard, we have a long hard road ahead of us. Whether we get any more attention from news outlets in the coming days has yet to be seen, so please do what you can to get out the word.

    e in Nashville

  23. 23
    Lyssa says:

    Living close to Nashville I can only say thank you. And to let you know that everything helps. Assisting where we can is part of wonderful thing about all in this country. A donation to the red cross can mean that people who don’t have a home, and may not be able to rebuild will at least have a warm place to sleep, and a meal while they wait to regroup and address what has happened.

    When the flood waters go down, come and visit Nashville. Spend some time in the Honky-tonks, hear some good music (we have blues, country, rock…depends on the venue) Visit the Fisk, eat lunch at the Library, see Athena at the Parthenon. We will look forward to hosting you!

    In the meantime pray that the rain passes us this weekend…there is another front moving in. Last night the Cumberland was over 52 ft… and we all were humming..

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fpbCLNyPUA

  24. 24
    Julie says:

    Thanks for posting the links to some organizations that are doing some good in Nashville and surrounding areas tonight. I’ll be sure to send a few dollars their way this week.

    I wasn’t crazy about the second sentence of the RWA press release, either, simply because as professional writers, it’s important to communicate clearly. I was favorably impressed with Gaylord for their quick response—after all, most hotel staff and management are most likely dealing with fallout from the flooding, let alone what’s probably happening with their own homes and families.

    Huge “attagirl” for Sarah’s urging RWA members to think twice about calling the national organization for info. We most likely won’t hear a thing for several days at the earliest. Let’s take a deep breath and think good thoughts for those in harm’s way.

  25. 25
    Heidi says:

    Wow, I’m amazed that Gaylord got any notice to conferences and patrons considering that they spent Sunday evacuating hotel patrons to a local high school to sleep on cots for the night.  The corporate offices are on a hill, but that doesn’t mean they were accessible.  Those are some dedicated employees, too, considering many had their own homes in danger as well as the danger of getting trapped in flood water at the hotel itself.  The instinct to run to higher ground was strong and quite natural.  Not to mention the problem with power outages.

    Yes, I live in Nashville and this is the worst disaster it has perhaps ever seen, completely unexpected.  Within hours the city was under water with 13-20 inches of rain.  Our annual rainfall is 48 inches which keeps us satisfactorily lush.

    Thanks to everyone for your prayers and support.  Do come to Nashville sometime in the future for we have a beautiful city with wonderful people who define Southern Hospitality. We will rebuild and things will be better than ever, but it will take time, hard work and lots of funds.

  26. 26
    Mary Winter says:

    Living in Iowa, and going through the floods of ‘93 and 2008, my heart breaks for the people in Memphis and Nashville. I cannot image the heartbreak of the flooding, its aftermath, and the many ways in which the cities (all of them, not just the big ones) have been impacted. Thank you for the list of groups/charities seeking support.

    I cannot imagine people calling RWA to complain when people are dying and losing their homes. And for RWA to complain that the hotel didn’t contact them first? *sigh* *shakes head*

  27. 27
    Sam says:

    I’m an hour from Nashville and was also shocked at how little attention this was getting from national media. I have family members in Nashville who luckily escaped flooding, but are having to worry about their water supply. The local weather had been calling for rain Saturday and Sunday all last week, but no one thought much of it. Plus it seems like it has rained every weekend all spring so most folks were just bummed out about another dreary weekend not thinking about a major natural disaster!
    It is heartbreaking to hear about the loss of life and see all the places we love to visit in Nashville with 10 feet or more of water. Same goes for Clarksville and Franklin and all those other sorrounding cities I can’t think of right now. The thing to remember also is that it isn’t just water- there is sewage and God knows what else mixed up in it.

  28. 28

    Right on, Sarah.

  29. 29
    Beki says:

    I’ve been out of the loop for several days due to the flooding.  My brother and his family live only a couple miles away from the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and I was so looking forward to the trip over to visit them and attend the conference this year.  Happily, all of us were visiting our folks this last weekend when the flooding happened and they just STAYED there until the waters receded enough for them to go home.  Their home sits in the bend of the Cumberland and their subdivision was under several feet of water, but it looks from pictures sent by a friend that maybe, just maybe, the water didn’t get into the main living space of the house.  They are just now on their way home to find out and I’ve been holding my breath waiting to hear back.  It’s funny the things you worry about, the things you don’t even think about normally until you or your family is involved, but I’m telling you the very last thing on my mind is whether or not the conference will go off.  I’m confident it will land somewhere and at some point I’ll know all about it.  Right now, the people in that area need our help, our money, our prayers.  Donate to the Red Cross or to any other option you like.

  30. 30
    Brooks*belle says:

    I live about an hour east of Nashville and have several friends who are flooded out of their homes.

    I plan to zip over to Nashville as soon as stuff starts recovering and spend my dollars there.  Also working to see who needs what and try to get a load of stuff to my friends.

    PSA: Work on your disaster preparedness plan now.  That’s what I’m doing today. http://www.ready.gov/  and http://www.disasterpreparer.com/DP/Welcome.html  have some great lists available.

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