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Flooding hits Tennessee, nearby US states

NASHVILLE, Tenn., May 3 (Reuters) - A weekend deluge pushed rivers and creeks out of their banks across Tennessee and neighboring U.S. states on Monday, leaving at least 15 people dead and forcing thousands to evacuate homes and hotels.

The overflowing Cumberland River that courses through Nashville shut down bars and clubs, forced 1,500 guests out of the Opryland hotel and closed schools and businesses.

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean urged residents to conserve water because one of the city’s treatment plants had to be shut down after more than a foot (30 centimetres) of rain fell.

“There are lots of flooded streets and highways, and road damage,” across central and western Tennessee, said Missy Marshall of Tennessee Emergency Management.

Eight people died in Tennessee, including one in a tornado. Two died in Kentucky and five in neighboring Mississippi, state officials said.

Some victims were found in submerged vehicles or inundated homes, while others were swept away in flooding that officials said was the worst in the area in decades.

Hundreds of residents had to be rescued, many by boat.

Several state buildings in Nashville were closed, and weakened or leaking levees led authorities to evacuate some neighborhoods.

Farther south, the fast-rising Loosahatchie River spilled out of its banks and led to evacuations in Waverly Farms, Tennessee, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal on its website.

Millington, Tennessee, was also hard hit, with 500 evacuated from two housing subdivisions, a trailer park and a nearby U.S. Navy base.

Mississippi was hit by violent spring weather for the second weekend in a row after 10 died in a powerful tornado that tore through Yazoo City.

Meanwhile, state officials made coastline preparations for oil from the Gulf spill.

“That’s three disasters,” said emergency management spokeswoman Nikki Presley. (Reporting by Pat Harris in Nashville and Andrew Stern in Chicago; Editing by Doina Chiacu)