By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Any spring night could flip into an evening to remember.
The unstable weather across most of the United States is a product of the atmosphere transitioning from winter to summer. The battle of cold and warm fronts will eventually produce storms, tornadoes and even floods.
That was the case almost 10 years ago for Millington resident Andrea Hayes. Her home at 7703 Tecumseh, she shared with her son Kelby and twins Kolby and Kelsy would soon be evacuated. Also calling the house in Indian Meadows home were Hayes’ mother Gail Carr and sister Amber.
“April 30 I had watched the news,” Hayes recalled. “I knew there were going to be storms but not to that extent. Kelby got up that morning because he had a trip for AAU. He got up at like 6 o’clock. I said to him, ‘You’re not going.’ I had my TV on. ‘It’s tornado watches everywhere.’”
Kelby, who was a freshman at Millington Central High School at the time, went to investigate the situation for himself.
“He went outside and came back in and said, ‘Mom, water is really everywhere,’” Hayes said. “I said, ‘Boy go to bed.’ Water was on Kiowa and my neighbor Jeff Browning said the water is really raising.
About an hour later I got up and everybody started coming outside,” she continued. “Normally it would flood on that street but it would go down. But this time I told Kelby to go next door because it looked like their car is about to be under water. We were still just looking at it because it was all shocking.”
Hayes, her family and neighbors were literally in the middle of the May Day Flood of 2010.
“We were out there about an hour then the police came to our street,” she recalled. “They told us at least you’re not under water yet. That was about 8 going on 9 a.m.
“We thought it was starting to get serious but not serious enough to leave,” she added. “Then the water started to rise and it came up to my thigh. I went back inside. About 15 minutes later we got a knock, ‘You have to get out.’”
Right next door was Hayes’ cousins Barbara and Yolanda Gray. They started to make their own evacuation plans.
“It was about 9:30, 10 o’clock, it was like the water came out of nowhere,” Hayes said. “We did get out. My cousin and her family came and got us. They live in Pleasant Place. But I actually was going to try to drive out but got stuck. The water came up to the door of my van. We actually were able to drive out with them and went to Pleasant Place. “
It was Nanda and Kevin Rhodes to the rescue for Hayes and her family. Feeling safe for a moment, tornadoes hit that night.
Once the storms moved east and the weather threat was gone, Hayes began to try to wrap a mind around what just happened.
It was four days after the Saturday storms before Hayes and her children returned to 7730 Tecumseh. The water line in her house reached as tall as 7-feet.
“When I got back home, my children were so distraught because we has lose everything,” she said. “Kelby was the only one with something else to where because he had a backpack on with stuff in it. I had to really keep the faith for my children even though it broke me.”
Hayes faced a quick decision at that moment. She had to keep a brave appearance for her 14-year-old and pair of 11-year-old children.
“I really had to pretend I was strong for the children because they said they had loss everything,” she recalled. “In the back of my, ‘We don’t have anything. We have nothing.’ I actually went to my grandmother Mary Lee house who lived on Kerrville.
“I read the book of Job that Sunday,” Hayes continued. “I read it and gave me an insight. He lost everything and gained it back. I actually gained double back plus more. I had to show my children here today and gone tomorrow. These are just material things.”
Fast forward 10 years, Hayes is not an administrative assistant at MCHS. All three of her children competed in athletes as Trojans. She was a vital member of the booster club for Trojan Basketball when her sons played.
She wrapped her life around all she had left after the flood – her family.
“Since the flood, I’ve held on to the insight of losing things doesn’t bother me anymore,” she said. “When it comes to material things, I totally have a different outlook. I lost everything but the stuff I had on.
“Me and my babies all we had were the clothes on our backs,” Hayes continued. “We lost books, photos… everything just totally gone. Everything we’ve ever had – gone.”
Hayes remembers the relief effort of Life Church during the weeks after the flood. She noted how the city rallied around the residents who lost their homes. Donations came in from many places the months after the flood.
“I still live in Millington, but not in that neighborhood,” she noted. “I didn’t move out of Millington but when storms come I am ready to go. But my faith is stronger now. The most recent storm that came through, I slept through it completely.
“I recovered more than what I loss,” Hayes concluded. “You put your trust in God. Material things come and material things go.”
By Thomas Sellers Jr.