Alexander: Tennesseans Working Together to Recover from 1,000-Year Flood Is “Inspiring”

Says One Reason for Lack of National Media Coverage Is That “Tennesseans Have Been Busy Cleaning Up and Helping Each Other, Instead of Complaining”

Posted on May 10, 2010

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today made the following remarks on the floor of the U.S. Senate regarding the flooding in Middle and West Tennessee:


  • “There is no bigger, no more heart-wrenching, no more inspiring, story today than what happened in the 48 hours in Nashville on May 1st and 2nd over the weekend when two to four inches of rain was expected and up to 17 inches came.  As a result of that, from the Opryland Hotel outside Nashville to the Millington Naval Station near Memphis, all across Tennessee there have been devastating floods.  It is, according to the weather service, a thousand-year flood.”


  • “Some people say to me, ‘Well, there’s not been so much news about this Tennessee flood.’  I can tell you two reasons for it.  One there has been a lot of other news.  Greece has been collapsing.  A bomber tried to blow up Times Square.  There’s turmoil over immigration in Arizona.  There’s the Gulf oil spill which threatens to be the worst in history.  But it’s important for the American people to know that the Tennessee flood last weekend is by far the largest disaster in our country since President Obama came into office, except for the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  And it may be that the Tennessee flood affects more people than what’s happening in the Gulf of Mexico.  The other reason we haven’t heard so much about it is this: Tennesseans have been busy cleaning up and helping each other, instead of complaining and looting.  But people are hurt.  Thousands of people are hurt, but they’re going about their business helping themselves and helping others in remarkable and inspiring ways.”


  • “According to the Tennessean, the American Red Cross recorded more than 1,300 volunteers by Friday.  Whole congregations showed up on Sunday en masse at places like Cross Point Community Church, which has more than 1,600 members . . . If you go through Nashville today all the way down to Memphis, you see thousands of front yards just littered with damage from the basements of homes.  FEMA has been on the ground from the beginning and I thank them for their prompt response.”


  • “As we look forward, this is not a time to complain.  I didn’t hear anybody complain this past week in Tennessee.  As I said before, maybe that’s why there’s not so much news about this.  But as we look ahead, I want to make sure that in the future, we make sure that we do the best possible job on handling floods.  Particularly that we have clear and correct information about the rising water and that we communicate it as broadly as we should.  We’ve learned how to do that with tornadoes.  Using the media, we can tell you whether a tornado is coming across your house in fourteen minutes in a remarkable act of cooperation between the national weather service and the media broadcasters.  I’ve asked Chairman Boxer and Ranking Member Inhofe of our Environment and Public Works Committee to look into it, and perhaps hold a hearing on how well the Army Corps of Engineers and others are delivering accurate, clear information to businesses and individuals who might be hurt by the rising water.”


  • “I thank the Congress for approving my request over the last few years for additional funding to make two [Center Hill and Wolf Creek] of the eight dams on the Cumberland river safer.  If they hadn’t been made safer, their water levels could have been lower and tons more water would have been poured into the Cumberland river creating millions of dollars more in damage—and perhaps lives.”


  • “I’m very proud of Tennessee. From Nashville to Memphis, there’s been no bigger, more heart-wrenching, more inspiring story than these thousands of Tennesseans who suffered a 1,000-year flood, thousands of whom have losses that they understand will not be fully made whole.  But they’re not busy looting or complaining, they’re cleaning up and they’re helping one another.”