- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 5, 2010

NASHVILLE, Tenn. l Rescuers feared even more bodies would emerge Tuesday as muddy flood waters ebb from torrential weekend rains that swamped Nashville, much of Tennessee and two neighboring states, killing at least 29 people.

The Cumberland River that submerged parts of Music City’s historic downtown began to recede Tuesday after being swollen by heavy rain and the flooding creeks that feed into it.

Residents and authorities know they’ll find widespread property damage in inundated areas, but dread even more devastating discoveries.

“Those in houses that have been flooded and some of those more remote areas, do we suspect we will find more people? Probably so,” Nashville Fire Chief Kim Lawson said. “We certainly hope that it’s not a large number.”

Businesses along Nashville’s riverfront lost electricity early Tuesday. Laurie Parker, a spokeswoman for Nashville Electric Service, said a main circuit failed before dawn, knocking out power to downtown businesses in a 24-square-block area, including the 33-story AT&T Building, a Hilton hotel, the arena where the Nashville Predators NHL team plays and honky-tonks in the country music tourism district.

Miss Parker said the power in that district would be out the rest of the week.

“It will be Friday at the earliest,” she said, “depending on how fast the water level falls.”

Thousands of people have fled their homes and hundreds were rescued by boat and canoe over the past two days, but as the floodwater began recede, bodies were recovered from homes, a yard, even a wooded area outside a Nashville supermarket. By Tuesday morning, the flash floods were blamed in the deaths of 18 people in Tennessee alone, including 10 in Nashville.

By Tuesday, rescue operations of stranded residents were winding down in Nashville, though emergency management officials were checking a report of a house floating in a northern neighborhood, trying to determine whether anyone was in it.

It remained unclear how many people were still reported missing. Communications and power had been cut in several areas of Nashville and outlying counties, and authorities were requesting residents to alert them if they believe someone might be missing.

In one neighborhood west of Nashville, residents scoured through debris, trying to determine how much they’ve lost.

About 50 Nashville schools were damaged and floodwater submerged hundreds of homes in the Bellevue suburb alone, including Lisa Blackmon’s. She escaped with her dog and her car but feared she lost everything else.

“I know God doesn’t give us more than we can take,” said Miss Blackmon, 45, who lost her job at a trucking company in December. “But I’m at my breaking point.”

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