May 4, 2010— -- At least 29 people are dead from the record-breaking flash floods in Tennessee, Mississippi and Kentucky.
In Nashville, the Cumberland River is slowly receding. But the damage is done -- homes are ruined and the city is a mess.
Families are trying to clean up and salvage anything they can. "You just pick up a box, you just pick an item and say, 'Is it savable?'" says Woody Hall.
But so much of it is not. Hall and his family are trying to cope with the damage. Treasured items, including things from his childhood, are now destroyed.
"My son's playhouse, we watched it float away," he says. "My grandfather, myself, him, built it when he was little kid. It's just traumatizing."
Across this city, the reality of the damage is just beginning to sink in.
This morning the Cumberland River crested at a 70-year high -- twelve feet above flood stage.
"You know you see it on TV all the time, but you never expect to live it," says Hall.
At least 19 people in Tennessee have been killed.
In Nashville, city officials are asking residents to cut their water use in half, after flooding shut down one of only two water treatment plants.
Even the heart of country music is still underwater. The Grand Ole Opry, along with the Country Music Hall of Fame, are both flooded. No one has been able to get in to see if the priceless music memorabilia including recordings of stars like Hank Williams, Patsy Klein and Dolly Parton are still intact. It may be months before anyone sings at the Opry again.
"The history of Nashville, it goes so far back," says Paul Overstreet, a country music singer and songwriter. "It's like the roots of country music are right here...The instruments that people played, you know, all the great bluegrass artists and the country artists, historical artists and all their instruments, their clothing are in these halls."
Those roots are strong and people like the Ron Davis say they will draw on that strength.
"We're not looking weeks or months, we're looking at years," says Davis, "But we'll survive this."
Five feet of flooding overwhelmed the Davis home. Twelve years after building their house, they have to start over.
"It's just devastating how much damage can actually come through, you wouldn't think that water could carry that much force," he says. "I mean, you lose everything."
The governor has declared over half the counties in Tennessee disaster areas. Damage teams started their assessments today, but we may not know the full extent until sometime next week.