Nashville City Paper: Alexander, Cooper offer response to national flood report release

Posted on January 12, 2011

Sen. Lamar Alexander and Rep. Jim Cooper — the Tennessee members of Congress who likely took the most assertive stances following May’s historic flood — expressed both concern and encouragement in response to a National Weather Service flood report released Wednesday.

“The National Weather Service report confirms the breakdown in communication during the historic flooding last year,” Cooper, a Democrat who represents Tennessee’s 5th District, said in a release. “We can’t stop the rain, but we can and must do a better job at warning people of the potential for dangerous flooding. A few hours of warning could have saved lives and prevented millions of dollars in damage.”

Cooper has been outspoken in his request for information regarding government agencies' handling of the flood.

Alexander called the report “an important step” toward making the agency’s flood warnings more like its tornado predictions.

“During our Senate hearing in July, I urged the National Weather Service to do as good a job with flood warnings as it does with predicting tornado activity,” the Republican senator said in a release. “This new system for predicting water levels and communicating flood warnings is an important step in that direction, at first in Nashville, but eventually nationwide. Tornadoes can be devastating, but flooding causes three times as much damage nationwide each year as all other disasters combined.”  

A copy of the report can be read here

On July 22, 2010, at Alexander’s request, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development (of which the senator is a member) held a hearing called “Lessons from the 2010 Tennessee Flood.” The hearing investigated what went wrong during the flooding and what could be improved related to predicting water levels and communicating flood warnings to the public.