Volunteers still cleaning up Mill Creek, a year after the floods
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) – It’s been just over a year since devastating flash flooding destroyed homes and scattered trash all around the Mill Creek area of South Nashville.
A year later, you still wouldn’t guess what washed ashore in Whitsett Park. “A car’s bumper, a license plate,” said volunteer Jay Renfro.
“Oh, it’s an air freshener, it looks like it has chloride in it,” said Kathleen Dennis, director of the Mill Creek Watershed Association. “You know it’s just sitting here seeping into our surroundings.”
Some of this trash is just everyday trash, but a large majority is from the April 2021 flood. “There was a warehouse that flooded,” Dennis said.
On April 14, 2021, flash flooding passed RJ Schinner, a restaurant supply warehouse, leaving Mill Creek masked in plastic. Hands on Nashville and other volunteer groups have worked over several weekends to get as much as possible and have made great progress. Yet, more than a year later, parts of the creek bank still appear untouched. “It feels overwhelming,” Dennis said.
That’s why Dennis brought together members of the Mill Creek Watershed Association and students from Vanderbilt University to try to make another dent in the mess. “We all really need to adopt the attitude that we are stewards of our ecosystems and we are stewards of our clean water,” Dennis said.
Already they are seeing examples of wild animals, like crayfish, being strangled by plastic. “It’s the only house this body has,” she said.
It will take many more cleanups like this to fully restore Mill Creek. “It’s a problem that people will see on the news or hear about and then let others deal with it, but it’s really our problem,” Renfro said.
But if you ask these volunteers, one less waste is one step closer to their goal. “We have so much work to do, but I think it’s valuable and we will make a difference,” Dennis said.
You may remember that RJ Schinner sued his insurance company to cover the full cost of cleaning. This process – is always linked to legal proceedings.