Rev. Harold Love Jr., pastor of St. Paul AME Church, 3340 W. Hamilton Ave., wasn't sure how much devastation had occurred throughout North Nashville on May 3, just after severe flooding wracked the city. But he wanted to do something for those in need.
After talking with friends from the Prince Hall Masonic District, they decided on a cookout at the church, a combination aid and social affair.
"We started cooking and looked up, and there were people coming from everywhere," lodge member Reuben Dobson recalls. "We didn't realize how much help something as simple as a hamburger, a hot dog and some chips could be to people who had lost everything. Then the radio stations got involved, both WVOL-AM (1430) and WQQK-FM (92.1) began broadcasting live, and eventually this became the first flood relief site in North Nashville."
Since then, St. Paul has become a community hub for flood-relief information and assistance with food, supplies and clothing. It has also brought needed attention to the Bordeaux area, where residents openly wondered when their losses would get the same attention as those in Bellevue and Franklin.
"People were just glad to see some action happening in their neighborhood," adds Gary Dennis Jr., another lodge member. "We sent out a text message to 25 of our lodge members that we needed their help, and everyone came and brought what they could."
To aid the community, St. Paul established flood relief headquarters from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays. Political figures such as Metro Councilman-at-large Jerry Maynard and Councilman Lonnell Matthews arrived to inform and update the community on flood relief efforts, as well as lend a hand.
"Media attention was slow to arrive, but once the mayor found out what was happening in North Nashville the response was good," Maynard says. "He came and toured the neighborhood. He spoke at Hadley Park. Public works officials came and are now doing the necessary maintenance throughout the area. The police response has been good."
Rev. Love says he received a call about the situation from Bishop Vashti McKenzie, the first woman bishop in the American Methodist Episcopal Church. The national AME church has now gotten involved in helping North Nashville flood victims.
"We've had people come in and tell us their stories, and we're getting them the information and access that they need," Love says. "The need was there and it was the church's duty and responsibility to step up in a time of great stress."
For more information or to contribute, call 615-876-7219.