NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The blazing fiddles and screaming
guitars at Nashville's famed downtown honky-tonks are a little
quieter as the city recovers from flash flooding blamed for 28
deaths in three states.
Elsewhere in Nashville, the Country Music Hall of Fame has
closed and the Grand Ole Opry - the most famous country music show
in the world - had to move its performances.
The Cumberland River, which winds through the heart of the city,
spilled over its banks as Nashville received more than 13 inches of
pounding rain over the weekend. The flash floods were blamed in the
deaths of 17 people in Tennessee alone, including nine in
Nashville. Other deaths were reported in Kentucky and Mississippi.
None of the deaths were in the city's entertainment district, a
five-block square of honky-tonks and restaurants downtown where
animated barkers often stand outside at night encouraging patrons
to step inside. But some businesses had to shut down - a blow to
Nashville's economy and reputation as a freewheeling town. The city
has more than 11 million visitors annually.
Floodwaters receded in many parts of the city Tuesday, although
the river was still over its banks. Residents who had frantically
fled their homes returned to find mud-caked floors and soggy
The water at the Country Music Hall of Fame was mostly confined
to a mechanical room and did not get in the exhibit area where 112
of country's greatest stars are chronicled in down-home tributes.
At the Opry, five miles northeast of the entertainment district,
performer Marty Stuart said he feared water had destroyed
instruments, costumes, audio tapes, boots and "just everything
that goes along with the Opry and Opry stars."
Singer Chris Young said a special Opry show Tuesday night at the
War Memorial Auditorium was a welcome diversion for many residents.
Hundreds of people turned out.
"A lot of people coming here have lost either their houses,
their possessions or their cars in the storm," he said.
Gaylord Entertainment CEO Colin Reed says it will be at least
three months before the massive entertainment complex that also
includes the Opryland Hotel and the Opry Mills Mall has guests
Rita Helms, a customer service representative at the Opry, said
some workers have been distraught.
"It's very sad for the employees and a few have even been in
tears," she said.
One of the downtown honky-tonks still open is Robert's Western
World - "Nashville's undisputed home of traditional country
music" as it proclaims on its website.
"There's not much that can shut us down," bartender Sammy
Barrett said in a telephone interview as country music blared in
The entertainment district is generally filled with a mix of
tourists and locals - all out for a hand-clapping good time. Some
people still milled around the area Tuesday.
"They like the vibe they get here," said Jimmy (The Governor)
Hill, who works for a downtown bar and a restaurant. "The bands
start playing at 10 in the morning; you don't have things like that
in every town."
Mayor Karl Dean also was undeterred. "We will go on being a
center of tourism and drawing people to our city," he said.
Some entertainment venues weren't damaged, including the former
home of the Grand Ole Opry, the 118-year-old Ryman Auditorium. A
Barenaked Ladies concert there next Monday is still scheduled.
On the other side of the river, LP Field, the home of the
Tennessee Titans, was drying out: The Titans' logo could once again
be seen from the air. A four-day country music festival will be at
the stadium in five weeks.
The production of country music in the city also seems have
survived unscathed from the more than 13.5 inches of rainfall that
fell Saturday and Sunday. "Music Row" - an approximately
four-square block area that houses recording studios, record
labels, song publishing companies and others on the business side
of the music industry - is a mile from the river and wasn't
The water swelled most of the area's lakes, minor rivers,
creeks, streams and drainage systems far beyond capacity. Much of
that water then drained into the Cumberland, which snakes through
The weekend's storms that spawned tornadoes along with flash
flooding also killed six people in Mississippi and four in
Kentucky. One person was killed by a tornado in western Tennessee.