The Grand Ole Opry Plays On Despite Floods

This appeared on - May 5, 2010

Come rain, come shine, the show must go on. Even major flooding didn't keep the Grand Ole Opry from opening its show.

Since the legendary Nashville venue has been flooded by the Cumberland River and its tributaries after heavy weekend rains, last night's show was moved to the city's War Memorial Auditorium.

The heart of country music never skipped a beat as Marty Stuart performed in front of hundreds of fans. U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander even joined in on piano for the "Tennessee Waltz."

"While we ourselves are shaken by the impact of the flooding of the Opry House and throughout the area, it is important that Nashville's most treasured tradition continues with this week's shows," said Grand Ole Opry Vice President Pete Fisher.

"We look forward to coming together both as the Opry family and as a great American city, just as we have every week for nearly 85 years," he added. "Our hearts go out to all of those affected in the Middle Tennessee area."

Four to six feet of water reached the Opry's stage, and the first floor of the Minnie Pearl building was flooded over the doors, said Rita Helms, a customer service representative. The Acuff Theater had four floors flooded, and the Gaslight Theater also was under water, she said.

While it may be too soon to tell when the Grand Ole Opry or the nearby Opryland Hotel, which was evacuated earlier this week, will reopen, some reports say they could be closed for up to six months.

The Cumberland River also deluged some of Nashville's most important revenue sources: the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center, whose 1,500 guests were whisked to a shelter, and the Opry Mills Mall.

Floodwaters also edged into the Country Music Hall of Fame and LP Field, where the Tennessee Titans play, though the Ryman Auditorium - the longtime former home of the Grand Ole Opry - appeared to be OK. It was not immediately known how much damage the Hall of Fame or LP Field received, though the Titans' logo, which had been submerged by floodwaters on Monday, was once again visible on the stadium's field Tuesday.

At least 29 people were killed in Tennessee, Mississippi and Kentucky by either floodwaters or tornadoes.

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