For one area family, a long-awaited vacation became a trying experience.
Brazil resident and Clay County Deputy Auditor Haley Bechtel, along with her mother, aunt and four sisters left for Nashville, Tenn., April 29, in hopes of having a "girls' weekend" of fun.
While able to visit the Grand Ole Opry and some of the other sights early during the trip they had planned for about four months, little did they know Mother Nature would dictate the rest of their itinerary.
"It rained all day Saturday (May 1), and continued throughout the day Sunday while many tornado warnings were in effect," Bechtel said about the flood that hit Tennessee this past weekend, which dropped a record 13 inches of rain in Nashville alone.
As the rain constantly fell, the options to leave quickly became limited.
"We could see the water slowly rising and we couldn't get out of the area or check out of where we were staying," Bechtel, who was staying at the Wyndham Resorts in downtown Nashville with her family, told The Brazil Times. "Water was starting to cover Interstate-40, and once it started covering some of the cars and storm drains Sunday (May 2), we moved up to the second floor of the condo with other girls who were staying there."
On some level, the slowly rising flood water reminded her of the June 2008 flood in Clay County, but Bechtel said the emotions were completely different.
"The flood in 2008 didn't really affect me much because I was at home and felt safe," she said. "This time, we were all a little scared of what was happening."
Having a larger vehicle, Bechtel's three older sisters (Sarah Hatch, New Harmony, Regan Brown, Seymour, and Sandy Burnette, Indianapolis) left Nashville early Sunday morning, and she, her mother (Teresa Bechtel), aunt (Nancy Marlow) and younger sister (Stephanie Bechtel), who all are all Brazil residents, waited it out.
Knowing the water level was continually rising, Bechtel's car was moved to a higher area of the parking lot, but it was not enough to save it.
Initially, emergency response personnel were waiting until the rain slowed down before starting a rescue effort in the area, but an unseen circumstance pressed the issue Sunday afternoon.
"We were lucky because we were in the only building of the condos that the water didn't reach the first-floor windows, but there was a fire a couple buildings over from where we were staying," she told The Brazil Times. "You could smell gas in the air, and the rescue boats arrived within 30 minutes of us being told they were coming."
The majority of the possessions taken with the family were also lost during the flood, as Bechtel said they were only allowed to take what they could carry in their hands.
"We were fortunate not to have to climb out of the windows or walk through the water to get to the boat," she said. "The gate area where the stairs were at the condo was large enough for the boat to fit right in. All we had to do was come down a few stairs and we were able to climb right in the boat."
Bechtel said they were then taken to a larger boat, which transported them to an area of dry land in Nashville, where a bus took them to the Marriott Hotel to wait for a ride back home.
"My brother-in-law drove down from Indianapolis and picked us up about 5:30 p.m.," she said. "He drove us to Southport, Ind., where my father and uncle picked me, my mom and aunt up, and we got back home about 1:30 a.m., Monday morning."
For Bechtel, the damage done by the flood was unlike anything she had ever seen in person.
Although they were more than 200 miles away from home, technology helped Bechtel and her family remain in close contact.
"We updated our Facebook profiles through our cell phones to let everyone back home know what was going on and how we were doing," she said. "It was by the grace of God that we were able to make it home alright."
Even though it is an experience Bechtel said she would never forget, or want to go through again, she said the willingness to come together in a stressful time was memorable.
"We didn't have much to drink or eat, and we weren't able to go out to get more, but it was great to get help from so many people we didn't even know," Bechtel told The Brazil Times. "From the people who let us stay in their room on the second floor of the condo to the people on the boats coming to get us, it was just amazing how well everyone came together."