NES, TDOT hit hard by flooding

Monday, May 3, 2010 at 1:16pm

Whether you're talking about powerlines and substations, or state highways and bridges, the fate of each is as murky as the floodwaters that cover great swaths of Nashville. According to state and local officials, the extent of the damage is unknowable until the floodwaters recede.

The Cumberland River has yet to crest, and the water in many areas continues to rise. Many of the smaller tributaries that feed into the now swollen river have nowhere to go, Tennessee Department of Transportation spokesman John Hall said, and may not reach their highest until tonight or tomorrow.

"The situation is going to change 30 minutes from now," Hall told The City Paper. "Some of the roads I say are open will be closed. Some of the roads I tell you are closed may be open as the water rises and falls.

"This is a really bad pun — and it's not meant to be a pun — but it's a really fluid situation."

A bridge that was fully submerged at I-24 and Mill Creek has been deemed passable today, and TDOT crews will be inspecting and re-inspecting the bridge throughout the day. Stretches of Highway 70, I-24 and I-40, however, have been submerged for some time now. Until the water recedes, road crews will be unable to determine what, if any, repairs are needed, Hall said. For an exhaustive list of state roads and highways with flooded conditions in Davidson County, visit http://www.tdot.state.tn.us/tsis_org/region.asp?region=3.

State highway crews aren't the only ones bracing for the damage retreating floodwaters may reveal. Nashville Electric Service infrastructure was dealt a devastating blow over the weekend. Some 20 poles have been broken. The west substation and service center were submerged, along with 37 utility trucks and roughly a third of the equipment they'll need to restore power to some 13,000 NES customers who are currently without it.

Hardest hit have been areas served by the McCrory substation off of McCrory Lane, Wanda Drive, Edmonton Pike, Antioch and Bellevue. NES spokesperson Laurie Parker estimates power will be restored to most within a day or two. In the meantime, NES has brought on 30 contract crews to assist the 25 intact NES crews who'll be working 12-hour shifts until power is restored. It's impossible to estimate how long it'll take NES to bring power to areas of Nashville that are completely submerged.

"Some of it is still up in the air," Parker told The City Paper. "Until some of the floodwater recedes, we're not going to know how much damage we have."

Visit http://www.nespower.com/OutageMap/default.aspx for a map of service outages.