By Don Hall
The roar of industrial-strength fans, the hum of dehumidifiers, and the unique, not-quite-mildew-yet (but getting there fast!) smell isn’t what you’d expect when you walk into public buildings in Nashville.
But during this unusually wet July, in some offices, that’s exactly what you’ll find.
According to Kelly Windham, administrative assistant to County Judge Brent Pinkerton, it all began when a hail storm hit Nashville on June 13.
With damage to their roofs, water began pouring into the library, the police station, and the district courtroom. The roofs were patched until they could be repaired, but still the hard rain came down almost every day and leaked inside.
Complicating things is who has responsibility for the damage. “The city has the buildings; ours (the county’s) is the contents of the library and the district court,” Windham said.
Mayor Larry Dunaway’s staff has been trying to figure out the cost of repairs. “The roofs will be somewhere between $150,000-$170,000,” he says. “That’s the estimates I’ve gotten so far.”
That doesn’t include all the damage done to the inside of the buildings, like computers, floors, ceiling tiles and insulation. “I haven’t even figured that in yet. I’ve got the adjuster working on that.”
Walking up to the police department, the door suddenly opens and Police Chief Amy Marion, wearing work clothes, hurries out with a garbage can sloshing with water and dumps it on the parking lot.
“The hail storm damaged the roof, and since then we’ve been fighting leaks every time it rains,” she said.
A quick tour of the PD offices and the district court show the extent of the damage. There are gaps in the suspended ceiling where there used to be tiles. The furniture and computer equipment are covered in plastic, trying to keep them dry.
Even so, people can still get to the police officers when they need them. “It hasn’t affected the day-to-day officers responding to calls,” Chief Marion said, as she quick-steps outside with another trash can full of water.
Nicole Eudy is on staff at the library. “We had multiple leaks spring up all over the room. I counted 25 total, but I’m not sure that was all of them.”
The library started flooding and ceiling tiles started falling. “It was an absolute mess in here,” she adds.
The leaks were patched (again) this past Friday, but then the rain came back over the weekend, bringing on two new leaks.
All in all, since the first leaks appeared almost a month ago, more than 1,700 books have been damaged.
Eudy summed up the general attitude this way: “There’s a whole lot of work to be done before we can get back to normal, but we will get it done.”