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The woman who called Vanderbilt’s Flood Recovery and Coordination Center was clear about her situation. Her house, she said, was uninhabitable.
She reported that everything in her garage was a total loss, and that in her house she had lost walls, roof, subfloors and carpets, kitchen table and some clothes and shoes. She was relying on family and friends for immediate help, and was hoping for some future help from FEMA, but wasn’t sure about that yet.
Then she said this, about any help that her employer, Vanderbilt, might be prepared to offer: “I want to make sure the people that lost much more than me to benefit from things before I receive anything.”
The spirit of Nashville that was on display through the catastrophic flooding on May 1 and 2—neighbor helping neighbor, a selfless sense of sacrifice, a willingness to pitch in and get started with the cleanup, while also welcoming help—was also on display at Vanderbilt, which, is, after all, Nashville’s largest private employer.
As it became apparent that catastrophic flooding was happening all over the region as more than 13 inches of rain fell in two days, Vanderbilt first activated its Incident Command Center to deal with flooding in the basements of some buildings and to make sure that patients would be cared for and that clinical areas were adequately staffed through the disaster.  
And then, over the next few days, the immediate threat to Medical Center operations faded, and it became swiftly apparent that the flood had affected a staggering number of Vanderbilt’s family personally.
About 70 Vanderbilt employees reported that their residence was totally destroyed in the flood; almost 300 reported, in the first days after the flood, that their residence was uninhabitable but salvageable; and more than 500 others reported having a livable residence with damage exceeding $5,000.
The Flood Recovery and Coordination Center, with representation from many parts of the University, took over the Incident Command Center and began simultaneously gathering information and communicating University and community flood news to the Vanderbilt community.
In order to gather information, the Employee Needs Assessment Survey was created using the University’s own Redcap survey tool. This allowed both employees and supervisors to report about the flood’s impact on hundreds of employees. Volunteers began phoning back some of the most affected individuals to assess need and help match those needs with available support.
At the same time, the flood website was established and became the clearinghouse for both University and community information about the flood. Over the next two weeks, the site would have more than 125,000 hits. Special flood editions of the electronic publications MyVU and MyVUMC were produced, highlighting each day’s news and developments.
And especially in those early days the news and developments came fast:
• University leaders decided to offer a disaster pay benefit that would provide up to two weeks paid leave to faculty, staff and trainees whose personal residences were destroyed or otherwise rendered uninhabitable on May 1-2. The paid time off is over and above accrued vacation or personal time.
• An online Vanderbilt Flood Relief Fund was established. All monies donated are tax deductible; to give, visit:
• A Flood Relief Swap Meet was held May 6 and 7, allowing items such as clothing, housewares, and cleaning supplies to be supplied to flood victims free of charge.
• A free online classifieds page allowed those with items to share to list those, and those in need to be matched to the items.
• Vanderbilt Employees’ Credit Union stepped up to offer special flood relief loans, payment extensions on existing credit union loans; and appliances loans up to $5,000.
• Work/Life Connections-EAP offered help to individuals through its Employee Hardship Fund, and at the same time began offering counseling and referral for those affected by the flood. The number to call is 936-1327.
 There were countless examples of small (and large) unofficial acts of Vanderbilt people helping each other and helping their communities.
 In this issue are a few examples of the flood’s impact on Vanderbilt and its employees. This is not in any way meant to be comprehensive, but in these stories we begin a mosaic of Vanderbilt’s story and Nashville’s story of those days when the rain came and the water rose.

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by Wayne Wood
courtesy Chris Carey
Vanderbilt resident Chris Carey’s Bellevue home, with [inset] o