After several days of devastating flooding, Nashville has begun digging out, surveying the damage caused by dirty, rising water after a catastrophic downpour.
The Grand Ole Opry House is likely closed for weeks — maybe months — with water so deep that someone paddled a canoe over the seats, Marty Stuart told the Associated Press. The Country Music Hall of Fame, which has water in its Ford Theater, lost power and is running a generator to maintain temperatures inside the building to keep its fragile artifacts from being destroyed. A facility where Keith Urban was storing his concert equipment was inaccessible, and Keith believes he lost all of his guitars and amps.
“We have to wait and see to what extent the waters came up yet, but we know it is not good.,” Keith told CNN.
It’s a big loss, but Keith and his wife, Nicole Kidman, are blessed with large bank accounts. Many Nashville residents who were already struggling with a tough economic climate, have lost homes, cars, possessions — a few lost their lives.
Keith’s personal tragedy “pales in comparison, people have lost everything,” Keith said. “We are certainly financially helping, my wife and I are.”
While news stories have focused, rightly, on the tragedy, Nashville is not a complete loss. Just blocks from the Cumberland River’s overflow, people were working out at the downtown YMCA on Tuesday. The streets of Music Row were unscathed and the interstates are open once again. The city intends to recover — as does the Opry.
Though the Opry House is drowning, perhaps destroying significant stage costumes and memorabilia, the radio show itself moved to other quarters and kept on ticking on Tuesday night. The Opry’s music beamed from the stage of War Memorial Auditorium, which was briefly the home of the Opry 70 years ago. Tuesday’s lineup included Chris Young, Marty, Jimmy C. Newman, Restless Heart, Jack Greene and Jeannie Seely, who lost her home in the flood. Performing was part of her personal recovery.
“It’s not like I can stay home and watch TV,” she told the audience. “You can laugh about it or cry, and I don’t want to cry.”
“It needed to happen,” Chris told The Tennessean of Tuesday’s Opry. “They didn’t say, ‘Oh, the Opry House is flooded, we’re not going to do it.’ We pulled together, and we’re here to do it. That means a lot — as a region, it’s what we do.”
Several sites that play a key role in the CMA Music Festival are currently under water, but they’re expected to be ready for visitors by the time the event rolls around.
“We have every intention of holding the event as planned June 10-13 in downtown Nashville,” says Steve Moore, chairman of the Country Music Association board. “We cannot think of a better way to help our local economy at this time of great need than to continue the 39-year tradition of CMA Music Festival.”
Editor’s note — story update on 5-13-10:
GAC will air a benefit concert this Sunday, May 16 called GAC’s Music City Keep On Playin’ — A Benefit For Flood Relief. Airing from Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium at 8 p.m. ET, the fundraiser features Brad Paisley, Lady Antebellum, Dierks Bentley, Rodney Atkins, Kellie Pickler, Americana artist Will Hoge, gospel singer CeCe Winans and contemporary Christian performer Jaci Velasquez.