TODAY   |  May 05, 2010

As floodwaters recede, more feared dead

The death toll from torrential rains and tornadoes that stormed through the South stands at 29, but could climb higher. NBC’s Ron Mott reports from Nashville, Tenn.

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>> the hour. here's meredith .

>>> the floodfloodwaters may be receding but this morning the death toll is rising from the record breaking storms that dumped more than a foot of rain on parts of the south in just two days. nashville , the capital of country music , has been particularly hard hit. that's where nbc 's ron mott is this morning. ron , good morning to you.

>> reporter: hey, mir daeredith, most of the lights have returned here to downtown nashville but there is still block after block of darkness along the cumberland river which is receding, though leaving a huge mess in her wake. overhead, the flood 's destructive and deadly reach was obvious tuesday. airplanes sat grounded under water . so did the grand ole opry and opry land hotel . the expansive opry land which could be shuttered for months is key to convention and tourism revenue here, host to 3,000 hotel rooms just at this location now closed for repair. on the ground in neighborhoods, the toll is harder to quantify yet easy to see as residents anxious to check their damaged homes are left to wait for the coast to clear. some who returned could only watch, still seemingly stunned by what happened over the weekend so quickly.

>> nobody knew that the water was going to come down this way. we didn't hear no sirens.

>> reporter: jorge at least got inside his house wading through ankle- deep water but didn't find much to salvage.

>> everything we have in there is -- it's bad. we have to dump everything.

>> reporter: like many families, the family doesn't have flood insurance . nor does this couple. no time really. they just moved in.

>> i lived in that house over there. that's the worst thing i ever seen, man. we just moved there friday.

>> reporter: downtown, scores of businesses remain closed while flooded streets slowly resurface as the cumberland river steadily drops. now that the clean-up is under way, city leaders are already trumpeting a comeback.

>> we are looking at a long recovery period. at the same time, i want to reassure everyone that nashville will fully recover and continue to be the great city that it is, a great place to live and a great place to visit.

>> reporter: back in this section of town, a great reunion by kayaks. found, safe and sound , if not a bit chatty. one of the bright spots that we saw here yesterday. now last night president obama declared parts of tennessee a major disaster , opening the flow of federal funds to aid in the recovery which is expected to take place in time, meredith .

>>> let us head over to