The Bellevue neighborhood, Nashville, TN, May 2, 2010:
A 6:00 AM call woke Cornelia and Marius (of Cornelia Skin Care) up on Sunday morning. “GET OUT!” their neighbor screamed. “GET OUT NOW.” They looked out their second story bedroom window and saw water on the sidewalk out front. On the following Thursday, as I stand at that same window, it’s hard to even see the river down the steep hill and through the trees. If I had to guess, I’d say perhaps a small creek lives there. The Harpeth River is banked through those trees and Sunday morning had Cornelia and Marius throwing clothes on, grabbing wallets and heading out the back door.
They were able to drive to the neighborhood clubhouse. Once here, Marius started banging on neighboring houses. At one point he was up to his neck in water but he got people out of their homes, undoubtedly saving lives. He noticed the water was rising back at the club house and swam back to get Cornelia and they drove to the next street down. Again, Marius was banging on doors. This scenario kept repeating until they found themselves blocks away and close to HWY 70. They were a mile from home and water was everywhere.
When I saw Cornelia this afternoon we hugged and we just starting crying. That may have been the longest hug of my life. I only know Cornelia from bikini waxes. I knew she and Marius left Romania in 1989 and settled in Nashville in 1991. I knew she had worked at Illusions Salon and Spa for years before opening her own skincare business in a office building just north of the White Bridge Rd Target. I knew they had saved their money and had been able to send their son, Alex, to Montgomery Bell Academy and then on to Carnegie Mellon. I knew all this because proud Mamas talk about their children and I love to listen to proud mamas.
Cornelia is known for yelling “BREATHE BABY. BREATHE. LOVE YA!” in her Eastern European accent as she shreds the forest which she will also call your hairy netherlands. Today, I just wanted to whisper into her ear, “Breathe baby. Breathe. We love you.”
I parked my car and walked about a half mile to her house with my three kids. Every house has a dump pile out front that takes up at least half their yard. A porcelain clown face stared through a pile of debris with mattresses, drywall, broken furniture and books surrounding it. Surprisingly, smiles were on most faces as this has become a community of acceptance, perseverance and one touched by brotherly love. Everyone was pitching in and the true meaning of community was evident at every address. They ALL have lost most of their possessions and most of their homes. I’m sure some will simply need to be demolished, but I hope not.
At Cornelia’s, we walked into a town home where all the flooring has been pulled up, all but the top 18 inches of drywall has been removed, and all the furniture is in a dump pile. They pointed a table out that normally “takes five strong men to lift.” The water carried it through their home and it ended up at the far end of their house. The upstairs is okay, for now. They are hopeful that their clothes and bedroom sets can be salvaged. It is an unknown.
They are staying with friends and still a bit dazed. Their son is home helping them as well as two dear girls. The five of them are making progress. But sweet Cornelia looked up at me with her huge eyes and just said, “Liza. Tell me, how does this (as she opens her hands wide and looks around her) happen? How? ” She told me stories of watching the rescue boats unable to steer through the waters as the current was too strong.
Their story was the American Dream and right now they are living a nightmare.But they are determined to get back to work as they know they will have many bills.They are so strong in their belief that the only way to make it out of this is through work. They know work and they need work. And, they are grateful to have a dry office to return to.
This brings us to What Can You Do? A few things:
- Get over your guilt for wanting a bikini wax or facial. cornelia-skincare.com This family must rebuild their home and their bank accounts. They need the money and to do that they need business. So, while Cornelia won’t take appointments until the week of May 17th, you can get gift certificates for services:Must be requested by email at [email protected] and please provide the following info:
Subject: Gift Certificate Request
Body: Your Name & Phone Number, Amount Required
Marius will respond when he gets to the office NEXT WEEK. Don’t freak out if you don’t hear from him until Tuesday or Wednesday. He will email you to say “It’s ready and I’ll be here between such and such times” and they can only take check or cash right now. I know it’s pain not to use a credit card and then have it sent. You have to go pick it up. But it’s more of a pain to run for your life from a rising river, to knock on neighbors doors to save their lives, and to lose your own house.
- Buy a t-shirt from Nashville Flood Relief 2010. (click link below for link) These shirts are supporting three local charities and I have followed up with Cross Point Church, Grace Church Nashville and the United Way. I’ve confirmed this is a legit fundraiser.Nashville Flood Relief T-Shirts-click here. To see updates on their paypal issue, click here. http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/Nashville-Flood-Relief-T-shirts/
- Cross Point Church, which I just mentioned, is hosting a volunteer effort this week from their command center: the old Circuit City, next to the Home Depot on HWY 70. “Projects are focused on helping residents clean out damaged property, remove carpeting and drywall.” I’ve heard this is a well-run ultra organized bunch and they are helping this Bellevue community immensely. Go by Friday or Saturday anytime b/t 9AM-4PM.