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WZTV FOX 17 News, Nashville

How Nashville’s Restaurant World Is Responding One Week After Tennessee’s Deadliest Flood

Pinewood Kitchen and Mercantile and its home farm were total losses in the flood. Meanwhile, Nashville residents and restaurants respond to the deadly flood.

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Last week’s record-setting deadly flooding in Hickman, Humphreys, and Dickson counties has also taken its toll on numerous restaurants, like Mee McCormick’s Pinewood Farms Kitchen and Mercantile, as relief efforts continue. Meanwhile back in Nashville, several restaurants and residents, well familiar with devastation over the last 18 months, have stepped in to help once again.

American Red Cross personnel, local disaster responders, and volunteers have spent the last week on the ground in Tennessee’s Hickman, Humphreys, and Dickson counties, assessing the damage and assisting survivors of the historic flooding that took place August 21. The tri-counties received nearly 17 inches of rain in 12 hours and the event has been named the deadliest flooding event in Tennessee history, with 20 known fatalities at this time (an anonymous donor paid for funerals for all 20 flood victims).

The flooding forced the closure of Pinewood Farms Kitchen and Mercantile — its farm in Hickman County (about 40 miles from Nashville) was a total loss following the flood. Mee McCormick and her husband Lee McCormick have owned the longstanding restaurant and general store and restaurant for the last seven years. The destination restaurant was a fixture in Hickman County, and thousands reacted via comment and came out to visit the restaurant a final time on Saturday after McCormick announced the closure via social media.

“It is with a heavy heart that after severe flood damage to the farm that supports this restaurant. We have decided to close Pinewood Kitchen & Mercantile permanently,” said McCormick in the post.

Supporters showed up in droves for the restaurant’s final day of service, and McCormick streamed much of the bittersweet day on social media.

A handful of restaurants were also forced to close temporarily due to extensive damage or outages, including Jen’s Steak and Seafood, Bella Blak, and China Buffet at Waverly Plaza.

On the ground, a caravan of cooks, mobile pits, kitchens, and volunteers with Operation BBQ Relief camped out for five days in Waverly, providing hot barbecue meals daily for the community. Waverly Cafe has been serving free meals to the community and collecting donations since the flooding occurred. The cafe was approached by World Central Kitchen but chose to decline with a poignant email (shown below).

For relief efforts in Waverly, Humphreys County Sheriffs Office social media is a great resource for volunteer efforts and other needs, while American Legion Hall and local churches around town are still accepting donations. Gatorade, sunscreen, bug spray have all been mentioned as current needs at Dollar Tree’s collection site as cleanup efforts continue.

Back in Nashville, Hermitage’s Nash Dogs fired up the hot dog-focused food truck and set out to feed the community, asking other local food trucks to join in their efforts in a Facebook post.

Fundraising opportunities are popping up around Nashville restaurants, too. The owners of CBD-centric coffee shop and café Anzie Blue have “adopted” a family in Waverly who lost their home and car in the devastating flood. Marcie Van Mol and her team at Anzie Blue are raising funds to help Mariah King and her daughter Ember to pay rent, get a car, and replace their misplaced belongings. King described the tragic event: “When I had Ember she was 1 pound 7 ounces. She fought for over 295 days in the NICU and now I am clenching onto her for dear life as I place her on my mattress. I watched helplessly as my car was swept away. After a few minutes, I heard voices and knew we would be rescued. However, we lost everything. We did not have renters insurance. I would love to find a place to rent, purchase a car, and start to rebuild my life with my daughter.” The family is accepting donations through such avenues as GoFundMe, Amazon wishlist, and Venmo (@mariah-king-87).

When Anzie Blue shared King’s story on Instagram, it gained the attention of fashion-lifestyle brand Kendra Scott, which quickly launched a fundraiser, running from Sunday, August 29 through September 1, donating 20 percent of each purchase to the relief fund. Offer is valid at any Tennessee Kendra Scott location (Knoxville, Nashville, and Memphis) or online with code: GIVEBACK-AMQBZ.

Julia Turner (formerly of Christie Cookie) now calls Nashville home but grew up in Waverly — and she jumped to action as soon as she saw the news. Turner loaded up 34 cases of water into her SUV and headed to her hometown. Her best friend’s parents’ home was a total loss, and she set out to purchase totes to residents who’d lost homes to try and salvage some belongings. Turner said that with limited stores in Waverly resources will quickly run out, and suggests gift cards to places for online purchase as great current ways to help as so many rebuild their lives. A talented home cook who pivoted to selling homemade chorizo and pot pies from her home during the early days of the pandemic, Turner grew up cooking with her mother at home and her father managed Minnie Pearl’s Country Dairy for the Cannon family. Turner also collected funds for ingredients and cooked all night until 5 a.m. to make home-cooked meals for families affected, of which she quickly learned she knew many, personally. “It all just makes me so sad. I just couldn’t sit there and do nothing. That’s my hometown,” said Turner.

From now until September 3 between noon and 8 p.m. daily, Hattie Jane’s Creamery is hosting a flood relief drive for diapers, pull-ups, and wipes. Anyone who brings a donation to support Waverly flood relief efforts will receive 15 percent off their order that day. Drop-off locations include Hattie Jane’s Creamery Columbia (16 Public Square), Hattie Jane’s Creamery Franklin (3078 Maddux Way Suite 100), and Hattie Jane’s Creamery Murfreesboro (116 N. Church Street).

Nashville’s Community Resource Center has once again updated its Amazon wish list with updated needs.