Spring Valley man heads for flood-damaged Nashville

By Matt Russell

The Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

As the death toll rises amid heavy flooding, Gary Peterson is flying from Rochester to Tennessee this morning to assist with Red Cross relief efforts in the Nashville area.

Peterson, of Spring Valley, is scheduled to work three weeks as a liaison between the Red Cross and city, county and state government officials, keeping in touch with their needs and letting officials know what help the Red Cross can give.

"We make sure that we're servicing the people who need the assistance," said the 67-year-old retired TV news director.


The Nashville area is familiar to Peterson, who went there two years ago in the aftermath of a tornado. The seven-year Red Cross veteran said he developed friendships and connections during that trip that will serve him well this time.

Peterson said he's heard reports of heavy flooding along the Cumberland River and in downtown Nashville, including 10 feet of water inside the Grand Ole Opry. Experience has taught him that the real picture won't emerge until he arrives at the scene, he said.

"They always seem to take on a life of their own when you get there and it's worse than you thought," he said.

The flooding, which followed heavy rainfall last weekend, has reportedly resulted in at least 29 deaths in Tennessee and Kentucky. It's possible more volunteers from the Rochester area will join the relief efforts, Peterson said.

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