Skip to main content
Flooded City

About the Collection

During May 1-2, 2010, Nashville received more than 13 inches of rainfall, forcing the Cumberland River, and several others, over their banks.

Flooding devastated areas throughout Nashville and surrounding counties, taking lives and destroying homes, businesses, and roadways. A massive community response resulted in more than 25,000 volunteers helping with cleanup and repairs. Today, our city continues to feel the impact of these events, whether in the empty lots in our neighborhoods or the community spirit fostered through shared struggles.

Recognizing that this was an historically significant event, Nashville Public Library’s Special Collection staff began collecting materials to document the event immediately. In May, while the city began to mobilize relief efforts, staff struck out to collect ephemera from businesses affected by the flood and from organizations with events focused on flood relief. In October, Mayor Dean and then-Library Director Donna Nicely announced the next phase of the project - collecting stories from flood victims, volunteers, government officials, first responders, musicians, and artists.

The Special Collections Division, in partnership with institutions throughout the city, collected 174 oral histories. In these interviews, the contributors discuss their experience, volunteerism, rescue efforts, the rebuild process, and disaster relief. These interviews as well as many still images, text, audio, video, and documents of the aftermath became the Flood 2010 Collection and are housed in the Special Collections Division at the Main Library. Many of the items, including oral history excerpts and a digital collection of photos, can be viewed in Nashville Public Library Digital Collections.

Flood Timeline

Explore More

Explore our interactive map of flood impact throughout the city.

The Nashville Flood Digital History Project Flickr contains over 800 photos shared by community members.

In library use only. Access is available in the Special Collections Division during regular library hours. Some materials may be protected by copyright (Title 17 US Code). Some materials may be restricted. Please inquire with Special Collections Division staff for more information about specific items.