Waves of Change by Pamala Hernandez-Kaufman LMFT, MJ Plaster, and Dr. Melissa Riley

Waves of Change, Memoir of Tennessee's 1000 Year Flood

“I lost my virginity (figuratively) with FEMA. I was not one of the first to ask for help because the thought of taking government or any other assistance appalled me. …”

“During the limbo phase, I adopted a Scarlett mindset, not worrying about anything today that I could putt of until tomorrow. Southern women seem to have a bit of Scarlett in them, so this was my Scarlett moment, my moment to conserve my strength and pace myself through dealing incrementally–frankly, dealing with as little as possible at any moment.”

~ MJ Plaster,
Waves of Change


Do you wonder what it would be like to live through a natural disaster, to survive a flood, hurricane, tornado, or other weather event? In the early morning hours of May 2, 2010, Tennessee experienced the worst and most costly non-coastal disaster in the history of the United States, dubbed the Thousand-Year Flood. 

Waves of Change portrays the struggles and triumphs of a flood survivor, a rescue and recovery professional, and a family grief counselor as their lives intersected during the aftermath of the flood. You’ll laugh at their tales, weep at their frustrations, and leave with a sense of empowerment, secure in the knowledge that natural disasters, in all their fury, are just a milestone along the path of life.

 (Synopsis and image via Amazon)

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My Thoughts:

Waves of Change provides a window on the tragedy of the 1000-year flood which occurred in Tennessee in 2010. This window has three panes.

First is the pane through which MJ Plaster sees and survives this experience. MJ is a writer with many credits to her name as you’ll read below. Her writing skills brought to the page the gravity of this disaster through the eyes and ears of any one of us. Just the ordinary citizen who finds herself caught in the nasty grip of something over which she can exert no control. MJ is at the mercy of swirling, muddy waters flowing through her condo development and finds herself suddenly homeless with dozens hundreds of other people.

Then there is Melissa Riley who shows us what it is like to be an emergency responder in a disaster like the 2010 flood. Melissa is well versed in aiding in the rescue of people and animals. Her experiences take the reader into first-hand situations assisting victims and saving lives. Her grasp of emergency situations pulsates from the page, and I found myself cheering her on!

And last of the three survivors who wrote this amazing chronicle is Pamela Hernandez-Kaufman, a bilingual marriage and family therapist, who finds herself in the middle of this massive flood while her husband is out-of-town. Pamela and her family, consisting of two children, a husband (did I mention he was out-of-town?), and family pets had just three weeks earlier moved to the Nashville area from Southern California. Needless to say, Pamela was ready to return to California.

Fate brought them together through various contacts and resources, and the three decided they had a story to tell that could help others weather the storms of life.

What their combined stories provide are invaluable resources to meet safety to psychological and counselling needs in the course of surviving any kind of disaster. A handbook for survival by three women who faced the storm and rose above all that it presented them.

* * *

My Recommendation: 

Anyone will find this a helpful guide to surviving crises that we face and which extend beyond our control. These can include weather crises, life crises or traumatic accidents. I recommend it for families to read and especially those who know they live within an area susceptible to quick weather changes and storms, such as flooding, hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes.

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Meet the Authors:

Pamala Hernandez-Kaufman, LMFT, is a bilingual licensed marriage and family therapist with 14 years’ experience working with individuals, couples, adolescents, and children in English and Spanish. Most of her work is with PTSD, grief, loss, and trauma recovery, and she deploys regularly for crisis intervention and disaster relief work. Her private practice office is in Brentwood, Tenn.

MJ Plaster, survived Nashville’s Thousand-Year Flood. She has been a technical writer, instructional designer, instructor, speaker, and freelance writer for more decades than she would like to recall, with newspaper, magazine, anthology, corporate, online, and agency writing to her credit. In addition to writing, she has served as managing editor for several association and special publications, including the Florida Turf Digest since 2006.

Melissa Riley, Ph.D., WEMT-IV, is the state coordinator for the Tennessee Disaster Crisis Counseling Program. She volunteers as the K9 coordinator for Tennessee Task Force 2 State Urban Search and Rescue Team (USAR), the Wilson County Sheriff K9 Search and Rescue Team, and as the technical rescue coordinator for the Wilson County Disaster Animal Response Team (DART). She is a flight instructor, a FEMA CCP Instructor, and instructs for the University of Phoenix. She is also a wilderness emergency medical technician, firefighter, emergency planner, and has over two decades of experience in emergency services as a responder and an instructor.

(Bios via Amazon; no images available)

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Publication Date: May 29, 2013
Publisher: Waves of Change LLC
Genre: Memoir
Kindle edition: 328 KB
Printed edition: 204pp
Source: Authors

I received a copy of Waves of Change from the authors in exchange for a fair and honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.


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4 thoughts on “Waves of Change by Pamala Hernandez-Kaufman LMFT, MJ Plaster, and Dr. Melissa Riley

  1. thenovellife1 February 11, 2014 at 3:41 pm Reply

    What an experience for these individuals and families ~ how devastating to go through. Thanks for sharing this novel that sounds like must read for anyone working with people surviving natural disasters


    • Sherrey Meyer February 11, 2014 at 7:21 pm Reply

      Glad you stopped by and appreciate your comments. Hope you’ll make a return visit.


  2. tpolen February 11, 2014 at 5:54 am Reply

    I remember this flood very well since we live only an hour from Nashville. I can only imagine what they went through and the devastation they saw.


    • Sherrey Meyer February 11, 2014 at 3:15 pm Reply

      Teri, I had no idea you lived that close to Nashville. I was born and raised in Nashville and only moved to Oregon in 1983. I still have family in the Lebanon and Mt. Juliet areas as well as in Brentwood and Franklin. The flood was a devastating time in the history of the area.


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