. DISASTERS: FLOODS : UNITED STATES: STATES: TENNESSEE, KENTUCKY: Volunteer State Earns Name as Flood Victims Pull Together Volunteer State Earns Name as Flood Victims Pull Together May 7, 2010 3:54 p.m. EDT CNN US <http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/weather/05/07/tennessee.flooding/>Nashville, Tennessee (CNN) -- Tennessee is living up to its Volunteer State moniker as residents grapple with the aftermath of deadly flooding that left widespread damage and an untold number of displaced residents in its wake.
Neighbors are rescuing neighbors. Strangers are chipping in to clean up devastated homes and businesses. Although many have lost everything tangible, their optimism remains intact.
"I'm alive," Ronnie Coleman said. "Everything else, the rest of my life, if I have to fight cancer or whatever -- hey, man, it's going to be a piece of cake to what I went through."
After two days of torrential rain, Coleman waded through chest-high water this weekend at his home in the Whites Creek suburb of Nashville -- a daunting task for a man who can't swim.
His neighbor, Willie Mae Stricklandjordan, whose every belonging was ruined in the flooding, described what happened when Whites Creek overflowed: "The water just gushed in -- and it had a force to it."
Another neighbor, Evelyn Pearlbell, said she had to be rescued."They put this rope around me and pulled me through this water," she said. "Scary. Phew, I was so scared."
As of Friday morning, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency said that 21 people had died, one from natural causes. Davidson County was hit the hardest, with 10 fatalities.
The federal government has declared 27 counties major disaster areas, the agency said.
Aid and supplies were flowing in to Tennessee, including 167 truckloads of water. Country singers, who hold Music City USA dear, pledged monetary donations, and some converged on Nashville to help with the cleanup.
Reports of rescues emerged from the Coast Guard, local rescue teams and average citizens as helicopters and boats canvassed the region for survivors.
Nashville's police and fire departments were going door-to-door, making sure homes were evacuated. They tied yellow caution tape to the doors of places that had been cleared.
Ben Perkins said he and his son, Will, searched for survivors for about seven hours in Bellevue on Sunday, rescuing people from the River Plantation subdivision and from stranded cars on a nearby highway.
They initially took their boat to Will's great-grandmother's house, but she had been rescued, so Perkins began looking for others in need. Will manned a cellular phone, acting as a "control center" during the 15 to 18 rescue trips, his father said.
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