A year ago today, the Cumberland River crested in Nashville, and people here and across the country watched in shock as the waters rose past 4th Avenue flooding Nashville landmarks and businesses. With the flooded neighborhoods of May 2nd, and the insult of added water on May 3rd, our community was shaken to its core. Last week, as heavy rains fell with eerie familiarity, many of us no doubt paused and thought, “Could this be happening again?” I, for one, know that a hard, prolonged rain will never provide the comfort it once did.

One of the many terrifying images from the floods that hit middle TN last year

May 3, 2010, is date none of us will forget. Do yourself a favor. Record Nashville Rises on PBS at 11:30PM tonight. When you watch this documentary by Watkins’ graduate Zac Adams and narrated by Billy Bob Thorton tomorrow from the cozy, dry comfort of home, you’ll want a box of tissues. At the Nashville Film Festival, Nashville Rises won the Ground Zero Tennessee Spirit Award for Best Short Documentary.

These images are still bringing me to tears. I think they always will.

Watkins College of Art, Design and Film continues to turn out some of the most talented artists in the country. With students competing – and winning – against the likes of Parsons School of Design and Savannah College of Art and Design, Watkins is a force to be reckoned with. This movie highlights the talent emerging from our local art school and provides a powerful emotional journey though that first weekend of May 2010.

Today, downtown Nashville is teaming with locals and tourists. A year ago, this is what our city looked like.

Record this documentary and cherish it as an anthem to our survival as a community. We stunned the country, embracing the challenge presented by this disaster, demonstrating what determined, committed people working in tandem toward a common goal can accomplish. I always loved Nashville before, but the past 12 months have made an indelible imprint on my soul. You are incredible, Nashville. You are home.

The one-year commemorative poster by Spirit of Nashville