13 Years Ago: The Grand Ole Opry Re-Opens After Devastating Flood
Thirteen years ago today (Sept. 28, 2010) was a day of celebration for the city of Nashville, following several months of heartache: It was on that date that the Grand Ole Opry re-opened its doors, after being closed for repairs for five months due to damage from the devastating 2010 Nashville flood.
On May 1-2, 2010, more than 13 inches of rain fell on Music City, causing massive flooding all across the area. The Cumberland River, which runs close to the Grand Ole Opry, overflowed, resulting in severe destruction at the Opry as well as at the nearby Opryland Hotel, which evacuated all 1,500 of its guests. To keep performances on schedule, the Opry relocated shows to several other locations, including the Ryman Auditorium, the Nashville War Memorial Auditorium, the Nashville Municipal Auditorium and Lipscomb University's Allen Arena, among others.
“While we ourselves are shaken by the impact of the flooding of the Opry House and throughout the area, it is important that Nashville’s most treasured tradition continues with this week’s shows,” then-Grand Ole Opry Vice President Pete Fisher said following the flood. “We look forward to coming together, both as the Opry family and as a great American city, just as we have every week for nearly 85 years. Our hearts go out to all of those affected in the Middle Tennessee area.”
Although the Opry House was submerged under two feet of water and suffered plenty of losses, including vintage guitars and other memorabilia, the stage's famous wooden circle remained intact.
“We were elated,” Steve Buchanan, president of the Grand Ole Opry, said at the time. “It is in remarkably good condition. We’ve taken it up and are taking it out for some TLC, so it will be fine. We have it sequestered for special attention, and then it will be back in place. We will ultimately need to replace the stage, but we do that every few years. But the circle will be saved … and it will be center stage when we open back up.”
More than $20 million went into restoring the Grand Ole Opry House, and its re-opening brought back plenty of Opry members, including Little Jimmy Dickens, who praised the finished product.
“It is very touching for me to see what all they have done out here,” he said. “I really look forward to coming to the Opry each week, not just to perform but to see and visit with my friends.”
Added Brad Paisley, “For me, I always look for a silver lining when something like this happens. I think the silver lining for this is what they have done here to the Opry House. I think an extensive renovation like this would not have happened without the flood last spring.”
Plenty of stars turned out for the big celebration, including Martina McBride, Bill Anderson, Keith Urban, Mel Tillis, Dierks Bentley, Montgomery Gentry and Ricky Skaggs, among others. The evening began with all of the stars convening onstage to sing "Will the Circle Be Unbroken."
Twenty-six people died in the 2010 Nashville flood, which caused 10,000 people to be displaced from their homes and more than $2 billion in private property damage.
The Grand Ole Opry Through the Years