News: Corps pledges its support for Davidson County Unified Flood Preparedness Program
Story by Leon Roberts
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District pledged its support today to join an effort to develop a “Unified Flood Preparedness Program” during a joint press conference at the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County.
Nashville Mayor Karl Dean said collaborating on flood solutions is the next logical step in the area’s recovery from the May 2010 flood that devastated properties and affected the citizens of Middle Tennessee. “It’s critical to move forward with this program immediately, and not wait for the federal government to do it for us,” he said.
District Engineer Lt. Col. Anthony P. Mitchell told the mayor and reporters that the Corps of Engineers stands committed to Metro Nashville and the region as the team seeks to improve flood preparedness, improve public safety, and protect the environment and cultural resources.
“This collaboration further illustrates the Corps of Engineers commitment to flood preparedness and damage reduction that provides a pathway for long-term solutions,” Mitchell stressed.
The effort is a joint effort, and is made up of representatives from Metro Government, including the mayor’s office, Metro Water Services, the Office of Emergency Management and Metro Public Works. The Corps of Engineers is a key partner with Metro, but the process also includes partnerships with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, and Tennessee Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Engineering firm Barge Waggoner Sumner & Cannon, Inc., has been hired by Nashville Metro to serve as project manager, along with AMEC, which specializes in environmental projects. City officials also said the collaboration effort to develop this program will include key stakeholders from across the county including critical service providers, environmental groups, the business community, and the public at large.
“It has been nine months since the devastating May flood that affected over 10,000 properties in Davidson County and caused $2 billion in damage,” Dean said. “What we experienced in May has been called a 1,000-year flood. But that doesn’t mean we won’t see another flood like that for 1,000 years. We have to assume it can happen again.”
The process for developing the Unified Flood Preparedness Program will involve reviewing the “Lessons Learned” from the May 2010 flood, including the vulnerabilities along the Cumberland River and its main tributaries, and developing flood risk reduction alternatives to address them. Flood solutions that will be considered in the program may include additional floodwalls or levees, flood proofing, channel improvements, and water storage and diversion. The program will also consider additional flood mitigation measures such as building elevation levels, and flood forecasting and warning systems.
During the press conference, Mitchell also explained that shortly after the May 2010 flood, the Corps of Engineers and Nashville Metro initiated a study under the Planning Assistance to States Program to develop tools for a comprehensive flood preparedness plan in Davidson County.
Corps personnel are already sharing useful information from this study that will be utilized in the collaborative effort announced today.
“Those tools include Geographic Information Systems and Automated Warning Systems,” Mitchell said. “These systems will assist Metro in defining flooded areas and depths during storm events and help the team better understand the impacts of the forecasted flood.”
Mitchell added that the Corps is focusing on updating stream models and inundation mapping for a range of potential floods on the six streams affected during the May 2010 flood. “We will develop tools necessary to better predict and display potential inundation and depth, and collaborate with Metro employees to use the tools and interpret the results.”
Scott Potter, director of Metro Water Services, said that at the conclusion of the study, “We will have developed a prioritized project list from which we can seek partnership in funding from local, state and federal agencies, and other partners, to construct projects that will include long-term protection of flooding for Nashville and Davidson County.”
Potter said Nashville is building a coalition with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and initiating this process because the typical process for developing a flood protection program would take three to four years. “We want to accelerate that planning process as much as possible,” he stressed.
The program team kicks off its work this month. The development of the program is expected to take approximately 10 months.