Flood documentary

This screenshot from a documentary about the 2010 flood damage in Cheatham County shows the water level at the Cumberland River bridge in Ashland City. The A.O. Smith factory is at the right of the bridge. SUBMITTED

Tyler Binkley is a special education teacher at Sycamore High School and is also a youth minister at Bearwallow Road Church of Christ. He is also a meteorologist.

He wanted to bring to light the full impact of the 2010 flood that devastated Cheatham County.

“I started reaching out to people about sending in pictures and video through our Facebook page, Cheatham County Weather, about three to four weeks ago,” Binkley said. “I then developed a plan to interview people in person with a video camera. I talked with one of my best friends, Brandon Jarrett, who works in the news industry about producing and editing the video. He agreed to it so then the process began.” 

That process turned into a documentary showing county residents’ memories of the flood 10 years ago this month.

Binkley said one motivation for the project is that so much media attention was focused on the flooding in Nashville while Cheatham County received little coverage. The cost of damage in the county was an estimated $10 million and 550 homes and businesses were damaged or completely destroyed.

Binkley interviewed all of the participants at a distance to follow coronavirus guidelines.  

“Once all the videos were shot, I then reached out to a good friend of mine who has a drone to do drone shots and video,” Binkley said. “I wanted to make this happen because I feel like our story has never been told in this way before. Anytime the phrase ‘May 2010 flood’ is used, everyone automatically thinks of Nashville. I wanted this story to only focus on our story in Cheatham County. A lot of our pictures and video that we include in this documentary have never been seen before.” 

 

What they said

Among those sharing their memories of the flood are Riverview Restaurant & Marina manager Walt Randolph, Kingston Springs Elementary School kindergarten teacher Candy Turner, Cheatham County EMA Director Edwin Hogan, longtime Cheatham County educator Norma Gibbs Beshears, county resident Katie Biggs, business owner Michele Dozier and longtime Cheatham County Fair board member D’Andrea Felts. 

“I heard that water had not been in the building since 1956 so I felt pretty safe that the Corps of Engineers and powers that be would continue to not allow that to ever happen again,” Randolph said.

Beshears and her husband, Don, were moving items from their garage to their basement because the basement had never flooded.

“I never lost my faith,” she said. “I knew He was gonna take care of us.”  

Dozier said she had been cooking catfish all day at her restaurant along the river.

“We were not expecting anything to happen, no there was no sense of urgency,” she said. “We closed at 8:30.” 

Biggs said she was not expecting any flooding in the area where she lived.

“I was told to evacuate at 1:30 a.m. with the volunteer fire department going door to door,” she said. “There was water in the carport at 4 a.m. when we left.”

Felts was at the fairgrounds with her husband as they moved equipment to the pavilion because the pavilion was not in the 100-year flood plain according to planning documents.

Turner said she was devastated by the flooding of the creek next to the school that was delivering overflow from the Harpeth.

“We received help, donations and supplies from all over the world,” she said, adding that elementary school students used Harpeth Middle School and Harpeth High School while KSES was being repaired.

Hogan recalled alerting EMS, fire and rescue as the flooding progressed.

“We never got a call from Nashville that water had been released,” he said. “We got a 911 water rescue call on New Hope Road, with two men rescued and not injured. The flood was the worst disaster in the state’s history.”

 

Documentary development

“One common thing that stood out to me is how everyone said how fast the water came up on that Sunday (May 2),” Binkley said. “In the documentary, Cumberland River, Sycamore Creek, and the Harpeth River are the bodies of water where the stories are centered around. That sense of surprise and quick evacuation that had to occur. Of course, like we show in the documentary, our leadership in the county never received a phone call or notified when the water was released in Nashville.” 

Binkley said that the documentary is available on Facebook and YouTube.  

“It took us about 12 hours in putting this together over the span of a weekend,” Binkley said. “So that the documentary wouldn't be too long, we had to cut out some interviews, which was not an easy decision. We plan on publishing those interviews along with all of the other interviews in full on our YouTube channel. We definitely want to get their stories out there.” 

Binkley said that he has no plans to make a DVD of the documentary. He does expect to have a viewing for the public.

“One thing we are looking at doing in the future once the COVID-19 pandemic calms down is to have a community showing,” he said. 

Recommended for you