Tennessean: Alexander to ask for better flood warnings

Posted on July 19, 2010

WASHINGTON — Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander believes people should be warned a flood is coming much the same way they're warned about tornadoes.

In a conference call with reporters last week, Alexander repeated earlier statements that he wants to find out if weather services and the media can collaborate on flood warnings the same way they do in sounding the alarm on tornadoes.

"Ten years ago, we didn't do a very good job about letting Americans know about approaching tornadoes," Alexander said. "Flooding is a different phenomenon, but I suspect we can do a lot better transmitting reliable and speedy information about floods."

Alexander said he hopes to get some answers when the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development holds a hearing on Thursday on the May flooding in Tennessee. He also lauded the way federal officials and Tennesseans reacted to the floods, which did more than $1 billion in damage.

The hearing will include discussion of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' "after action" report on the flooding — an analysis of the causes and response. Representatives from the National Weather Service, the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency have been invited to the hearing.

Alexander said he will ask whether improved flood warnings would require new technology or just better use of what exists.

Local government and business officials in Tennessee, including Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, have been invited to the hearing.