Alexander Previews Senate Hearing on Tennessee Flood

Says Hearing Will Stream Live Online, Encourages Tennesseans to Submit Questions

Posted on July 15, 2010


WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) told reporters today that the Senate hearing next week on the 2010 flood in Tennessee would help “find out the facts of what happened and what lessons can be learned as we prepare for future floods.”

“This will be a thorough, straight-down-the-middle hearing to find out the facts of what happened and what lessons can be learned as we prepare for future floods,” Alexander told reporters this morning.  “The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will present its after action report on the flood for the first time at the hearing.  I expect that the report will summarize what happened at dams in Middle Tennessee and lessons we can learn from their operation, and especially, how we can better communicate with citizens during a major flood.”

The public hearing of the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, of which Alexander is a member, will be held on Thursday, July 22, 2010, at 9:30 a.m. ET in room 192 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C.

Alexander said that the hearing will be streaming live online and there will be a link available to view it through his website –  He also encouraged Tennesseans with questions about the flood to submit them through his website or Facebook page—“I’ll ask some of those questions at the hearing and submit others to the witnesses in writing for their answers.”

“My goal would be to help the federal agencies that have information about flooding to do as good a job communicating that information to those who might be affected by the flooding as they now do with tornadoes,” Alexander continued.  “Ten years ago we didn’t do a very good job letting Americans know about approaching tornadoes.  Today, the alliance between the National Weather Service and broadcasters is able to let you know if a tornado is 15 minutes away and which side of the street it’s coming down.  Flooding is a different phenomenon, but I suspect that we can do a lot better in transmitting reliable, speedy information about floods.  As dramatic as tornadoes are, flooding is even more of a problem.  Three out of four federally-declared disasters during the last 5 years have involved flooding.” 

“Tennesseans know painfully well how much damage flooding can do,” said Alexander.  “The May floods caused 46 counties to be declared disaster areas, and the federal government has already approved nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in federal assistance since the president issued a major disaster declaration on May 4th.  Nearly 64,000 Tennesseans have registered for help with FEMA and people are still cleaning up and helping each other.  I’m especially proud of Tennesseans who’ve really gained a national reputation for our response to the flood by helping one another and cleaning up instead of looting and complaining.  What I hope to do at this hearing is to find out exactly what happened, what lessons can be learned, and as a result of it, how we can better emulate the success we’ve had with making speedy and reliable information about tornadoes available to citizens in how we deal with information about flooding.”

Following opening remarks by members of the Tennessee congressional delegation whose districts were impacted by the flood, the following have been invited by the Subcommittee to testify at the hearing:

  1. General John Peabody, Commander of the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  2. Gary Carter, Director of Hydrologic Development at the National Weather Service
  3. James Bassham, Director of the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency
  4. Mayor Karl Dean, Nashville
  5. Mayor Richard Hodges, Millington
  6. Whit Adamson, President of the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters
  7. Bert Mathews, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Nashville Chamber of Commerce