Tennessean: Corps says it welcomes hearing on actions during flooding

Posted on July 9, 2010

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials say they are looking forward to talking to a Senate subcommittee about the agency's actions during the unprecedented May 2010 Nashville flood.

The goal of the July 22 hearing, promoted by U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, is to see whether flooding could have been lessened in the early May disaster and how any future flooding levels can be better communicated to the public.

“The Corps is determined to objectively and dispassionately review the facts behind this event and transparently communicate the findings at the Senate hearing and to the public, and then work to improve our processes for the future,” a statement out of the Cincinnati office of the Corps said.

Two reports are underway, an “After Action” Review Report, which is expected in mid-July, and a more in-depth “Post-Flood” Report that could take months.

The first is being conducted with the National Weather Service to figure out what happened in terms of communications during the flood, and what lessons can be learned.

The weather service takes information from the Corps and many other sources to predict floods and flooding levels. Gaylord Opryland officials have been critical of the information they received on Sunday, May 2, when water rose more quickly than they say they had been told it would. They had a hotel full of people that had to be evacuated.

The "after action" review will also recommend improvements in the way the Corps operates Nashville area dams and communicate with partner agencies during floods in the future, the Corps statement said.

The Post-Flood Report is a more detailed technical, engineering report, covering meteorologic, hydrologic and hydraulic conditions. It and can be used for technical planning for future flood damage reduction efforts.

U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper had blasted the Corps after he said he learned that the second more in-depth report would not be done for financial reasons.

The Corps said in its statement that it is "developing a funding plan," to pay for the work. Officials so far have declined to give the estimated costs of such a study. Preliminary information has been taken for it to go forward.

The hearing will be before the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee.