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Nashville flood: The South's self-help disaster

While the Nashville, Tennessee, flood will bring federal aid, some complain the area became the nation's hidden disaster. But many Tennesseans are happy to clean up the mess on their own.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano listens as Ruthie Hostetler describes the flood damage done to her home in Nashville, Tenn. Hostetler's husband, John, holds their daughter, Ariana. Napolitano visited Nashville to view the flood damage and talk with homeowners and cleanup workers.

Mark Humphrey/AP

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The deadly flood that soaked Nashville, including iconic music dives like the Grand Ole Opry, may become the worst disaster to hit the state since the Civil War, and one of the worst non-hurricane disasters in US history.

So where was the 24-hour blitzkrieg news coverage of a major US city under water?

With the Gulf oil spill and the Times Square bombing attempt dominating the news cycle, maybe the relative lack of coverage and attention can be chalked up to disaster overload or the lack of a broader political and social narrative of the kind that drove hurricane Katrina coverage.

But one Facebook group still wondered, "Pardon us, did you notice Nashville is drowning?"

Fortunately, it turns out anonymity suits many Tennesseans fine. Chalk up the ambivalence about the relative lack of national coverage and attention to good old country grit – and a city's determination to take care of its own.

"A large part of the reason that we are being ignored is because of who we are," writes Patten Fuqua on the hockey blog Section 303. "Did you hear about crime sprees? No … you didn't. You saw a group of people trying to move two horses to higher ground. [We] weren't doing anything to draw attention to ourselves. We were handling it on our own."


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