A team of federal, state and Metro officials led by Mayor Karl Dean Tuesday kicked off the long process of compiling recommendations to help guide the creation of a new citywide flood preparedness plan.
The launching of the Unified Flood Preparedness Program, which could take 10 months to complete and years and tens of millions dollars to actually implement, comes more than nine months after May’s historic flood in Nashville. Under the initiative, Dean and Metro agencies such as the water and public works departments are to team with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build a countywide, comprehensive list of recommended projects needed to steer clear of catastrophic flooding in the future.
“When people say, ‘It was a 1,000-year event. You’re out of the woods.’ Well, you’re not,” Dean said at a press conference Tuesday. “The probability of it happening does not mean it’s just contained within another 1,000 years. It could happen tomorrow.
“It’s incumbent upon us to move forward and plan and do whatever we can to protect the citizens of Davidson County,” he said.
Dean, who called the plan “the logical next step” in Nashville’s flood recovery process, said the idea is to consider “all options” for protecting Nashvillians from a similar event that wreaked havoc in neighborhoods across the city. He said the study is to consider projects from “county line to county line.”
The engineering firm Barge Waggoner Sumner & Cannon Inc., which piloted a study for Gaylord Entertainment Co. on flooding near Opryland Hotel and Resort, will serve as project manager for the new preparedness program. Dean estimated the project could cost more than $500,000.
Some solutions, Dean said, could include additional flood walls or levees, channel improvements, water storage and diversion. Organizers will conduct a series of community meetings to solicit public input.
“When the program is completed, and projects we will pursue have been determined, we will begin an implementation process that centers upon areas of prioritization, available funding, and local state and federal agencies that need to be involved,” Dean said.
Scott Potter, who heads Metro’s water department, said one area that could use levee improvements is near MetroCenter, pointing out that it protects an important concentration of businesses. He said the priority list would be put together according to a “very complex matrix,” which considers transportation, public safety, cost and the amount of personal property damage.
Other partners in the new program include the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. Besides government agencies, Dean said the plan is to reach out to other stakeholders including environmental groups, the business community and the public at large.