How Tennessee's coping with flooding

Floodwater is pumped back into the Cumberland River along River Front Park in Nashville, Tenn.

Director of the Country Music Hall of Fame, Kyle Young at a benefit concert for the Country Music Hall of Fame at the Sommet Center in Nashville, Tenn.


Kai Ryssdal: The heart of country music is slowly getting back to business today. Nashville, Tenn., was pelted by 13 inches of rain over the weekend. The Cumberland River topped its banks and left large parts of downtown under water.

Kyle Young is the director of the Country Music Hall of Fame right there in Nashville. Mr. Young, it's good to have you with us.

Kyle Young: Thank you, Kai, happy to be here.

Ryssdal: How badly was the hall of fame and museum hit by these floods?

YOUNG: Well, you know, it was a pretty tense couple of days, but all things considered we came out of it in pretty good shape, Kai.

Ryssdal: Give me some specifics. How are you doing? Have you lost any exhibits or performance spaces?

YOUNG: Well, I'll tell you, our collection is about 70 feet off the ground. When we were designing this building, we were designing to withstand a 100-year flood, and I think that's just what we had. So throughout the whole ordeal we were not worried at all about our collection or our exhibition. We did sustain some damage. You know, what happened to us is on the east side of our building, which is the lowest elevation of the whole building, water came in and collected in a mechanical room, you know, about five feet of water, and it ended up moving out of there and into a performance space here at the museum the Ford Theatre. You know, at one point there was a foot, foot-and-a-half of water in the Ford Theatre. It's dry now and we're already moving through the remediation programs.

Ryssdal: You know, you guys have a great district there in downtown. It's bars, and music performance spaces, and all kinds of good stuff. Is it going to be tough to get that back to where you need it to be?

YOUNG: Well, you know, you're describing an area downtown, lower Broadway, which is actually a block from where we are, and Honky Tonk is already open. There is power in most of those places. And last night, there was music coming out onto Broadway. We, in fact, would be ready to open here as soon as the city restores the grid.

Ryssdal: The electrical grid.

YOUNG: The electrical grid. We're without electricity now but NES was just out, and they're saying Thursday, definitely Friday.

Ryssdal: For the Nashville Electrical Services, yeah?

YOUNG: You got it.

Ryssdal: Folks holding up pretty well?

YOUNG: Well, yeah everybody is pretty tired. And a couple of days we went through are unlike any two I've ever been through because the one thing that you really learn is that the river kind of keeps moving, it's inexorable, it just kind of moves toward, gets closer and closer, and at one point, again, on the east side of our building, there was about 4.5 feet of water out there. Pretty harrowing, actually.

Ryssdal: Kyle Young. He's the director of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tenn. Mr. Young, thanks a lot for your time.

YOUNG: You're welcome, Kai.

Director of the Country Music Hall of Fame, Kyle Young at a benefit concert for the Country Music Hall of Fame at the Sommet Center in Nashville, Tenn.

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Wow! You ran this by itself? This is really insulting to the people of Nashville. Hundreds of homes were totally underwater until yesterday and many thousands more had significant flood damage. Our symphony hall was destroyed, along with many valuable musical instruments. The one of a kind Opryland Hotel is basically gone. But we are back to business as usual because the Country Music Hall of Fame didn't suffer much damage?

We did not have looting or riots, so this is what we get. Incredible.

I’d like to start by letting you know I love your show. It keeps me sane during my commute home from work every weekday.

At the beginning of your show last night (Wed. 05/05/10), I was excited to know that a loud national voice such as Marketplace would be reporting on the flooding in Middle Tennessee when few other national sources are. But I have to admit… the interview with Kyle Young, the director of the Country Music Hall of Fame, left me hurt and disappointed.

While I’m glad the CMHF is getting this back together quickly, that isn’t the case for the many, many people that have been affected. Unlike Mr. Young’s statement, there is not power in “most downtown locations.” Many are without power and will be through the end of the week, downtown and all around the metro area. Many of Nashville’s landmarks have suffered massive amounts of damage – not to mention all the homes and farms in Middle TN that have been hit and hit hard, along with the roads that have been torn up and are not accessible. Damages in the Nashville area alone are estimated to top the $1 BILLON mark.

The mass devastation that Middle Tennessee has suffered is not getting the attention it needs to help recovery efforts. If anyone really wants to know what’s actually going on here, all they need to do is look at the pictures posted on the websites of our local news outlets. Here are a few: NPR Nashville (http://wpln.org/home.php), The Tennessean (tennessean.com), ABC Nashville (wkrn.com), CBS Nashville (newschannel5.com), NBC Nashville (wsmv.com).

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