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News Wrap: 22 Dead, Thousands Displaced by Flooding in Southeast U.S.

May 3, 2010 at 12:00 AM EST
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In other news Monday, the death toll reached 22 after severe flooding from weekend storms in Tennessee, Mississippi and Kentucky. Also, a boil-water advisory continues for nearly 2 million people around Boston after a water main break.
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JEFFREY BROWN: And still to come on the “NewsHour”: the attempted bomb plot in New York’s Times Square; the nuclear showdown at the United Nations; an airline mega-merger; and Poland’s future after its tragedy — but, first, the other news of the day.

Here’s Hari Sreenivasan in our newsroom.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The death toll reached 22 today from weekend storms that hit Tennessee, Mississippi, and Kentucky. The worst was in Nashville, Tennessee, where more than a foot of rain sent the Cumberland River surging into the streets.

The new day brought startling scenes of the heavy damage in Nashville. There was enough water in places to float an entire dumpster down a street. Portions of the historic downtown area were evacuated as the Cumberland River crested 11 feet above flood stage. Businesses were closed, and thousands of tourists took refuge in shelters. The deluge piled cars atop one another and carried some vehicles down submerged streets.

Thousands of homes and businesses were damaged, including schools and hospitals. Nashville Mayor Karl Dean urged people to conserve water, after one of the city’s two water treatment plants flooded.

KARL DEAN, mayor of Nashville, Tenn.: We are asking all Davidson County residents and residents in the city of Brentwood to use water for drinking and food preparation only. The K.R. Harrington Water Treatment Plant is submerged in water and will be closed, at the minimum, for several days.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Water also engulfed roadways and several major interstates in the Nashville area, grinding transportation to a halt. Train and bus service were suspended indefinitely. Authorities said the Cumberland might not start receding for 24 hours. Cleanup efforts may take weeks.

Late today, Nashville officials reported the Grand Ole Opry House has several feet of water in it. The site has been home to the Opry since 1974.

Nearly two million people in and around Boston spent a third day having to boil water before they could drink it. A break in a 10-foot main was repaired over night, but it could take up two days to confirm the water is safe for human consumption. The pipe ruptured on Saturday. That forced officials to divert untreated water from an open-air reservoir to local — and local ponds just to maintain pressure.

In Mumbai, India, a Pakistani man was convicted of murder and other charges in the terror attack there in 2008. Mohammed Ajmal Kasab was the lone survivor among the attackers. He was photographed walking through Mumbai’s main train station carrying an AK-47 rifle. The three-day attack left 166 dead and severely damaged two hotels, the train station, and a Jewish center.

North Korea’s reclusive leader, Kim Jong Il, may be on his first trip abroad since an apparent stroke two years ago. News crews in China today filmed a man in sunglasses who appeared to be Kim as he arrived on a special armored train.

Later, a convoy of limousines took him to a five-star hotel. China invited Kim to visit, as it tries to get North Korea to resume talks on ending its nuclear program. The talks have been stalled for a year.

Greece got a boost today in its battle to stay out of bankruptcy. Germany agreed to supply nearly $30 billion over three years, part of a larger international bailout totaling $145 billion. The Germans had held back on helping Greece, but Chancellor Angela Merkel said it is time for action.

ANGELA MERKEL, German chancellor (through translator): This reaction with a law doesn’t only mean that we assist Greece, but it will also help the stabilization of the euro as a whole, and, therefore, help the people of Germany, because a stable European currency is extraordinarily important.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Germany made its move after Greece agreed on Sunday to deep new cuts in public spending.

April was kind to automakers in the U.S. Ford and Chrysler reported sales were up 25 percent from a year ago. Toyota was up 24 percent. And General Motors sales rose about 6.5 percent. Despite the gains, sales were actually much slower than in March, when incentives attracted buyers in droves.

Wall Street rallied on upbeat reports from consumer spending and factory activity. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 143 points to close above 11151. The Nasdaq rose 37 points to close at 2498.

Actress Lynn Redgrave died last night, after fighting breast cancer for years. She joined her family’s acting dynasty and burst into public view as the title character in “Georgy Girl” in 1966. She earned one of her two Oscar nominations for the film.

In 2002, Redgrave performed in the musical “Company,” part of a salute to Stephen Sondheim at the Kennedy Center in Washington.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Redgrave also earned three Tony nominations for Broadway roles over the years, and more recently, she appeared in a number of television shows.

Lynn Redgrave was 67 years old.

Those are some of the day’s main stories. I will be back at the end of the program with a preview of what you will find tonight on the NewsHour’s Web site — but, for now, back to Jeff.