BLACKMAN: Mentioning downtown and how quickly the downtown businesses and other businesses sort of went back up quickly after the flood and I know you spoke with the convention business bureau and so forth. How do you think tourism or that aspect of business helped the city as far as its recovery efforts?
DEAN: Well there are really two or three aspects to it. The first aspect is the financial one to discuss. Nashville is, our number two industry in terms of private employment is hospitality. So it’s an enormous part of our economy, 54,000 people are employed in the hospitality industry. So you add in the tourist sites and restaurants, the hotels, that’s a lot of jobs and a lot of people. And we have events planned always way, way off into the future, and the big event that was looming over the flood was the CMA music fest coming up in June, which is a huge economic shot-in-the-arm to the city, a big, big thing and people had been working on it for months and months. So it was very important for the city in the sense of financially but also in the sense of building morale for the city and getting the word out that we were open for business. I mean, you know, huge portions of the city were totally undamaged. Downtown, which is obviously a source, a major part of the venue for the country music event were flooded. LP Field where the concerts are held, the bowl was flooded. Broadway was flooded, portions of Broadway and First Avenue. So responding quickly was important. And I give a ton of credit to everybody involved. The Hall of Fame got hit, they were open within a week or so, a week and a half. Y’know, the honky tonks never closed, you know you could get a beer if you wanted a beer during all this at any point down there. Other restaurants and businesses got open real quick. And so we were able to say to the country music fans of America and the world that we were gonna have our festival and it was gonna be better than ever. And it was. It was the best attended one ever. And it was vitally important that we get the word out ‘cause people on TV and the rest of the country were seeing stories about Nashville and what they were being shown was flooded downtown, they were shown the scene of that parts store on Charlotte where the waters knock open the door and the cash register gets- y’know, so people weren’t seeing that we were coming out of this thing and we had to get the word out. And then you had whole issue surrounding Gaylord going down too, I mean Gaylord is a huge part of our economy and a huge part of the country music festival too and they were out and people were seeing that and we had to convince people we could handle that and we could.
BLACKMAN: And I think it was impressive working downtown to see all of the people back so fast. It was part of our initial effort to start this project to just go out and see –get the posters and you know hence now get the stories and it was amazing to see how Nashville evolved, downtown Nashville sort of cleaned up really fast.
DEAN: There was a lot of pride in that. I mean I think when you started putting up the posters saying we’re open for business and you know the Fourth of July is also a big time for us, come to Nashville. I mean there was a lot of pride that we’re gonna be all right and we’re gonna get this thing turned around and the city really did.
BLACKMAN: Do you have any final thoughts or any final comments that you would like to say as we finish, wrap up this segment of this interview?
DEAN: I mean, to me if I had to, thinking back on the whole experience which is not over yet , I mean it really doesn’t, recovery from a flood of this magnitude takes a year or more and you know it will be a year anniversary this May. But there are still people who aren’t in their homes and there are still issues we have to work our way through and will be working our way through them for years. But the story to me of the flood is the people of Nashville, which I’ve mentioned. I mean the story to me of the flood is we had all these volunteers, all these people doing the right thing, all these people looking out for themselves but also looking out for their neighbors, their friends, and strangers. And just basically taking care of themselves, I mean to me that’s the story of the flood and that’s why we did better than people would expect. Because we just, people set about working and knew what to do and knew how to do it and cared about the city and that speaks very highly of our citizens I think.
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