Weekly Column of U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.)

Thousand-Year Rain

Posted on May 7, 2010

Middle and West Tennessee have been hit with what Army Corps of Engineers officials tell us is a thousand-year rain event—in a thousand years, we wouldn't expect to have this much rain—and it is providing enormous hardship across much of our state.

Nashville has gotten the most attention from the national media, but it isn’t the only city in Tennessee to be devastated.  For example, Water Street and other parts of downtown Clarksville were badly flooded, Millington was heavily damaged and the mayor of Dyersburg has estimated over $9.5 million in damage to that city.  Governor Bredesen says that 52 Tennessee counties are impacted and President Obama has already designated 27 of those counties as federal disaster areas.  I expect other counties will be added to the president’s list soon.

On Tuesday, May 4, I toured some of the flood devastation in Nashville.  On Friday, May 7, I did the same in Clarksville.  My thoughts and prayers are with those whose lives have been lost or otherwise devastated by the storm and the flooding that followed. 

I congratulate Governor Bredesen, Mayor Dean in Nashville, and community leaders across the state for doing a first rate job in getting an application together for disaster assistance and getting it to the president, and I thank the president for acting quickly.  I was glad to help in that process. 

This is a major event. The Opryland Hotel—one of the biggest hotels anywhere in America—has had to empty itself, and 1,500 of its residents were forced to stay in a high school. We are told it may be several months before the Opryland Hotel is able to function again. We hope not because its tax revenues provide about 25 percent of all the hotel-motel tax revenues for Davidson County, and that would come at a difficult time.

Tennessee has come through tough times before, and, together we’ll make it through this, too.  A number of displaced Tennesseans were invited to join me and others last Tuesday night at the Grand Ole Opry – which was flooded and moved to War Memorial Auditorium for the evening – to let the world know that the music is still playing in Nashville.

For those who need assistance, please contact FEMA at 1-800-621-FEMA or online at www.fema.gov.  I’ve also compiled information for Tennesseans who need help or would like to volunteer to help others on my website at https://www.alexander.senate.gov.

I know people are suffering in Tennessee, and I know it will take a while for people to get back on their feet. But Tennessee will get back on her feet, and I’m going to do everything I can to make sure the federal government does its part to help.