Tuesday, May 4, 2010


It's kind of surprising that the situation in Nashville hasn't gotten more attention: the city and surrounding communities are experiencing a 500-year flood. At least 10 people in the city have died as a result of the severe storms that swept through the region over the weekend; people elsewhere in Tennessee and in Kentucky and Mississippi also lost their lives. At the time of this writing, the city's historic district, landmarks such as the Grand Ole Opry, and other neighborhoods are still flooded. Recovery will likely take years.

At present, it's hard to tell just how badly the city's archives and other cultural heritage institutions have been affected by the flood. Parts of the city are still off-limits to everyone except emergency personnel, residents are being encouraged to stay off the roads, and many archivists, librarians, and curators are focused -- and rightfully so -- on making sure that their loved ones are safe or on salvaging what they can from their flood-damaged homes.

Word is starting to get out via e-mail and the Web sites of repositories in the area:
However, at this time, the status of many cultural heritage institutions in the area remains unknown. Some might have escaped the floods with little or no damage, but some may have been devastated. I'm really hoping that the Grand Ole Opry Photo Archives is not housed in the now-flooded Grand Ole Opry complex, but my outsider's suspicion is that it is. Other institutions and music venues whose business records warrant permanent preservation are likely affected as well; some legendary clubs have suffered extensive damage.

Wondering how you can help? A number of reputable organizations are accepting donations earmarked for flood victims, and the Society of American Archivists' National Disaster Recovery Fund for Archives provides financial support for disaster recovery activities.

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