09 May 2010

Nashville Flood put Grand Ole Opry Stage 2 Feet Underwater

Associated Press

A group of 10 to 15 workers moved precious memorabilia safely away from the Grand Ole Opry House even as flood waters rose, officials said Friday.

Opry president Steve Buchanan gave details Friday on how they moved instruments, tapes and other important pieces to higher ground before flood waters swept through the Opry house Sunday night. He did not give specifics, but country music lovers had worried about costumes and set designs.

"The difficult part is we didn't know how high the water would get," Buchanan said.

But he said many items were not moved. Buchanan said restoration companies have been hired to try and restore damaged materials and hopes for no significant losses.

"It breaks your heart, but it's our responsibility to be sure that that building comes back to life, and it will," Buchanan said.

Gaylord Entertainment officials confirmed 2 feet of water covered the stage, which will have to be replaced. But a 6-foot circle of wood brought over from the Opry's longtime former home appears to be salvageable, a hallowed piece from a show where country music stars have performed for decades.

"It is in remarkably good condition," Buchanan said of the circle. "We will ultimately need to replace the stage. But we replaced the stage every few years, but not the circle. The circle will be back center stage very soon."

Gaylord Entertainment officials first shared details about damage to the Opry house during a Friday conference call with investors. For now, The Opry's shows have been moved to other venues.

The Gaylord Opryland Resort, the hotel next to the Opry house, was hit with up to 10 feet of water. Its first floor, power plant and technical hub were flooded. The resort won't be taking bookings from now through October so extensive repairs can be made.

CEO Colin Reed said the damage is likely to exceed the company's $50 million insurance coverage.

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