Clarksville Leaf Chronicle: Alexander pledges support in wake of flooding

Posted on May 8, 2010

Sen. Lamar Alexander paid his first visit to Clarksville Friday to survey the damage done by the recent flooding.

Alexander, who visited with Congressman Marsha Blackburn, pledged his support and questioned local leaders on the details of the flooding and the community's response to the disaster.

"If you have obstacles, part of our job is to help," Alexander said.

James Chavez, president and CEO of the Economic Development Council said "(Small Business Administration) lending for a lot of folks might not be available," a hefty concern for many local business owners.

Alexander said they should still file paperwork with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, available online at www.fema.gov, and by telephone.

"The most important numbers to know are 1-800-621-3362 (FEMA)," Alexander said.

Chavez also expressed concern that Montgomery County was ignored in the wake of worse flooding in Nashville and surrounding areas.

"We're the silent story," Chavez said.

Alexander again pledged to do all he can.

"If you get the sense things are going to the back track, we need to work on that," he told Chavez.

"If I find any evidence that you've been ignored, I'll be the first to say so," Alexander told reporters after the meeting.

Alexander said response from President Barack Obama's administration has been "very good."

On Thursday, Alexander pointed to a possible area of improvement to potentially prevent such a disaster from happening again. He told the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works the Army Corps of Engineers needs to distribute "clear, correct and consistent information" about water being released from dams across the state.

"It's too early to say whether the information we did receive was unclear, incorrect or inconsistent, but we should address whether more information about the rise of floodwaters on the Cumberland River to the community might have saved millions of dollars in damages," he said.

Alexander and Blackburn both praised the response from local emergency officials.

"Everyone knew exactly what to do and they did it," Alexander said.

Blackburn said Tennessee could have created a model for other communities to follow in future disasters.

"They've not waited for government to show up, they did exactly what they did here in Clarksville," she said. "It's neighbor to neighbor."