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Presson: A Tale of Two Cities

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times …
– Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven … a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them.
– Ecclesiastes 3: 1-5

Monday, May 21 was a very different day for the cities of Nashville and Moore, Okla.
“To those here and the thousands not here who brought this building out of the ground, every pipe, every concrete pad, every beam and panel were placed with skill and precision.”
Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the grand opening of the Music City Center
“This is ground zero. This is hallowed ground.”
Mayor Glenn Lewis, viewing the rubble of twisted metal and splintered wood of Plaza Towers Elementary School, one of two schools obliterated in Moore, Ok., by a monster tornado. Seven children were killed inside the school. Seventeen additional deaths and hundreds of injuries add to the grief and misery.

The completed erection and May dedication of the Music City Center is certainly a triumph as it rises above some of the same ground that was submerged by the 1,000-year flood in May 2010.

Last month’s killer tornado in Moore evoked memories of another May day in Moore’s history that residents have long tried to forget but never will: the tornado that ripped through Moore on May 3, 1999 and took the lives of 36 people.
Moments after the ribbon-cutting, Mayor Dean announced that the Music City Center had met its goal of booking 1 million hotel room nights before it opened.

Norman, Okla., hotels are accustomed to filling their vacancies. Whether it’s graduation weekend at the University of Oklahoma or just another Sooner home football game, hotel managers are accustomed to crowds; and travelers know that rooms in a college town aren’t easy to come by.

But weeks ago hundreds of hotel managers in/outside Oklahoma City found themselves confronted by an unexpected crowd: thousands of Moore residents displaced by a massive tornado. Said Stephen Koranda, head of the Norman Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It’s like when we’re sold out for a football weekend. Only, this weekend is going to last for 60 to 90 days.”
With its five levels the 2.1 million-square-foot Music City Center was built at a cost of $585 million and covers several city blocks.

The Level 5 tornado, 1.3 miles in width, packed winds of 200 mph and churned everything in its path while on the ground for 17 miles.
The Music City Center broke ground in March of 2010 and took three years to complete.

The 2103 Moore tornado was the ground for 39 minutes and destroyed 13,000 homes.
A study projecting the economic impact on metro Nashville estimated that an additional $135 million will be infused annually into the local economy as a direct/indirect result of the Music City Center.

State officials and insurance experts estimate the damage from the May 20 tornado will reach or top $2 billion.

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and Gov. Bill Haslam agree that what is good for Nashville is good for Tennessee, predicting that the positive force and impact of the Music City Center will reach far beyond its Davidson County home.

Several meteorologists claimed that the energy and force released from the tornado was several times that of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
A fiscal study estimates that 1, 500 new jobs will be created by the Music City Center.

“All these people who have jobs and live in the area where they work, now have nothing.”
Moore, Okla., commercial property manager, Lisa Talley

Mayor Dean insists that the opening of the Music City Center is just the beginning of Nashville’s call to explore great opportunities, meet important goals, and address significant needs and challenges in the community as the city moves toward its future.

“We will rebuild. We know how to do it. We’ve done it before.”
Norman, Okla., Mayor Glenn Lewis
Author and therapist, Dr. Ramon Presson, is the founder of LifeChange Counseling and the Marriage Center of Franklin, Tenn. He can be reached at

Posted on: 6/10/2013


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