Metro government shifting focus to recovery efforts

Tuesday, May 4, 2010 at 1:56pm

With floodwaters receding across Davidson County, Metro officials say they’re transitioning from a response phase to one of recovery.

Flooding of the Cumberland River crested last night between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., and experts anticipate it to lower below flood level before the end of the week.

The number of deaths in Davidson County from the flooding remains at 10. Some 3,500 Nashville Electric Service customers still lack power, down from 42,000 outages earlier in the week.

“We are now officially beginning to transition from the response to the recovery stage of this disaster,” said Mayor Karl Dean, adding the city is “looking at a long recovery period.”

Assessment teams are in the process evaluating the damage from the weekend of flooding. So far, teams have focused on southeast Davidson County, completing 10 percent of the countywide assessment. Once the assessment is complete, Dean said, the city will begin the clean-up phase. Figures, including the number of damaged buildings and cost projections, have not been tallied.

“We don’t know right now what the full extent of the damage is,” Dean said. “We know it’s great. You can go to huge portions of our city and see no damage at all, and then you can go to areas like north Nashville or Bellevue or downtown, and you see a lot of damage.”

Public Works Director Billy Lynch said by this weekend he should “have a pretty good picture” of the extent of damage along roads, bridges and sidewalks. He said his department is employing a “comprehensive debris disposal plan,” and he asked people to place all trash from the flooding on the curbside, creating separate piles of metal, vegetative and other wastes.

Between May 1 and May 3, Dean said Metro police officers have gone to 9,194 homes, Metro fire has responded to 1,897 phone calls, and ambulance workers have responded to 540 calls.

Police Chief Ronal Serpas said he expects the demand for police services to increase as people try to move back into their homes once the water recedes. Serpas said between 60 and 70 roads remain closed in Nashville, with around 30 to 40 being manned by police officers.

Gov. Phil Bredesen has applied for federal assistance in 52 counties. Dean urged Nashvillians to hold onto their receipts from damage expenses to seek insurance and other compensation. He warned people to be on the watch for imposters who claim to be associated with local, state of federal agencies.

As the city move towards the recovery phase, Dean has asked citizens to check on elderly residents in their homes and for businesses to donate large quantities of generators, diapers and cleaning supplies.