Nightly News   |  May 04, 2010

Nashville flood’s steep financial, human toll

As flood waters recede in Tennessee, officials believe they may uncover more fatalities. Damage to property is believed to be in the tens of millions of dollars. NBC’s Ron Mott reports.

Share This:

This content comes from a Full-Text Transcript of the program.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: From New York City , we turn our attention to Nashville , Tennessee . Tonight, the death toll there is staggering. We know at least 29 people are dead from those torrential rains and tornadoes that stormed through the South over the weekend; and now, as the water recedes, that number could get even higher. The financial loss still unknown, but it, too, will be staggering. Our own Ron Mott remains in hard-hit Nashville tonight. Ron , good evening .

RON MOTT reporting: Brian , good evening to you. Officials say they will continue looking for possible victims from this widespread flooding as the swollen Cumberland River behind me finally retreats, leaving behind a huge mess. Overhead, the flood 's destructive and deadly reach is still obvious, airplanes grounded underwater, so, too, the Grand Ole Opry and Opryland Hotel . The financial losses around Nashville expected to reach tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars. The expanse of Opryland , which could be shuttered for months, is key to convention and tourism revenue here, close to 3,000 hotel rooms just at this location now closed for repair. On the ground in one neighborhood, the toll is harder to quantify, yet easy to see as residents anxious to check their damaged homes are left to wait for the coast to clear. Today, Jorge Barriga at least got inside his house , but didn't find much to salvage.

Mr. JORGE BARRIGA: We lost everything; but anyway, I'm happy because I have my family .

MOTT: Like many families, the Barrigas don't have flood insurance.

Unidentified Man: I live in that house over there, and it's the worst thing ever see, man.

MOTT: Nor does this couple. No time, really. They just moved in.

Ms. JENNIFER ALLEN (Flood Victim): We just moved in here Friday. And then Sunday night the police drove up and down here saying, `You need to evacuate.'

MOTT: Downtown, scores of businesses remain closed while flooded streets slowly resurface. And now that the cleanup is under way, city leaders are already trumpeting a comeback.

Mr. KARL DEAN (Nashville Mayor): We're going to get over this as -- relatively quickly. It's not going to be easy. It's going to involve a lot of money , it's going to involve a lot of work, but we'll get it done.

MOTT: And one of the things they would like to get done is to restore power to about 3500 customers downtown. It may take days before they can do that, Brian .

WILLIAMS: What a tragedy for that great city. Ron Mott , thank