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Flood Hits Nashville Pro Audio Community

By Clive Young. New York (May 4, 2010)—Heavy flooding after a weekend of torrential downpours has had a devastating effect on much of Nashville’s pro audio community.

Rehearsal/pro audio vendor facility Soundcheck
Nashville is flooded under 9 feet of water.
By Clive Young.

New York (May 4, 2010)—Heavy flooding after a weekend of torrential downpours has had a devastating effect on much of Nashville’s pro audio community.

A record 13 inches of rain fell in Tennessee over two days, resulting in 19 deaths across the state, with four in Nashville alone. Rivers across the region flooded, but perhaps most prominently, the Cumberland River ,which goes through the city’s downtown area, rose to just shy of 52 feet Monday night—roughly 12 feet above the city’s flood stage, and the highest flood point since 1937.

As a result, many area buildings like Soundcheck Nashville, a popular rehearsal facility/vendor complex, are deeply submerged underwater. Companies with regional offices inside Soundcheck include Shure and Meyer Sound. Buford Jones, Meyer’s touring liaison manager, estimated that based on water levels visible outside the building, “the water looks to be about 4 feet deep inside the building. It’s down one foot since last night, so it’s about 9 feet above flood level. They’re telling us it’ll be probably Friday before we’ll be able to walk inside there, so for Meyer, we can’t do anything but wait until we can get in and evaluate the building.”

Much of the MetroCenter section of Nashville, too, has flooded, prompting police to block off the area. As a result, area pro audio businesses like Trew Audio, a sales and rental house specializing in location sound, don’t know when they’ll open their doors. Trew Audio’s Josh Harper simply said, “We’re closed again today. I’m not sure what damage–if any–there is to the office as police have all roads blocked leading in from Rosa Parks Boulevard. Hopefully we’ll re-open tomorrow.”

Likewise, many venues and facilities are damaged. As of Monday night, the Bridgestone Arena’s set-up facilities, locker rooms, loading docks and more were submerged; even the arena floor, where local NHL team the Predators played hockey the previous week, was under a foot of water. Similarly, LP Field, where the Tennessee Titans football team plays—and where the annual CMA Music Festival’s main stage is typically located–was under four feet of water at the field level.

The Schermerhorn Symphony Center had a near-miss situation, where its basement and coat-check areas flooded, but the hall remained dry with the waters cresting just inches below the hall level. Regardless, grand pianos and the organ console are reportedly ruined, and officials expect they will be unable to host concerts for at least a month, perhaps longer.

Some of the most dramatic visuals to come out of the Nashville area are from the center atrium of the deeply flooded Opryland Hotel, home to nearly 2,900 of the area’s hotel rooms—roughly 12 percent of the city’s hotel room inventory, accounting for 20 percent of all hotel taxes collected in the area. The nearby Grand Ole Opryhouse reportedly has water above its stage at this point; going with the credo that the show must go on, the Grand Ole Opry’s Tuesday Night Opry will be held at the War Memorial Auditorium, while this coming weekend’s Opry performances will be held at the Ryman Auditorium.

At Creation Audio Labs in Hermitage, TN, staff
salvaged tools and documentation, but now have to
find a new home for the business. Photo: Alex Welti

Of course, there’s far more areas hit by flooding than just Nashville. In Hermitage, TN, Creation Audio Labs was flooded out by the Stones River, a 20-foot-wide, 4-foot deep waterway that usually sits half a mile away from the company’s offices. After removing tools, documentation and gear on floats, Alex Welti, vice president of Research & Development, reported that the company is looking for quarters ASAP. “All our families are safe and dry, but the business is homeless for now,” he said. “I am confident this will work out for the best.”

Trew Audio

Meyer Sound Labs

Creation Audio Labs