NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Feb. 25, 2022) The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District held a remote statewide flood workshop in preparation for this year’s flood season.
The workshop covered a variety of flood related topics presented by the Emergency Management Office and Water Management Section, such as the Nashville District’s plan of action in case of a statewide flood event and the methods of communication currently in place within the district and with local emergency response agencies.
“It’s important that we highlight how we communicate the process, the structure, and the products needed to be fully prepared for an ever-changing flood season,” said Lt. Col. Joseph Sahl, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District commander.
The workshop covered emergency response and how it could affect Nashville District personnel, construction and operational projects, as well as technical and material resources available to combat a flood.
Since the Corps of Engineers works closely with the State of Tennessee during natural disaster recovery, the workshop also touched on preparation for a 12-month action plan that would allow all agencies to be on one accord during emergency response.
Jerry Breznican, chief of Emergency Management, explained the preparedness phases of the Emergency Management Office and how they monitor potential floods, initiate response teams, and provide emergency resources to help local communities who are directly affected by flooding.
“When we respond to natural disasters like tornados, hurricanes, wildfires and floods, we monitor the process very closely from beginning to end so we can give the best help available in the quickest time frame, utilizing the most successful recovery methods,” said Breznican.
With assistance from the Emergency Management Support Team, the Emergency Management Office can simultaneously run several recovery missions like FEMA debris missions, TEMA flood response missions, infrastructure assessment, temporary roofing, and urban search and rescue missions.
“We can execute two missions at the same time with the help of our EMST, which is an important aspect to highlight because it helps us do our job quickly when time is of the essence,” Breznican said.
Flood scenarios were presented by Water Management Section Chief Anthony Rodino, who touched on historical trends and potential threats facing the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers during the flood season.
The Water Management Section provides support to the Cumberland River Basin through the Water Management Program which oversees data collection programs, reservoir system operations, and water quality data collection that allows USACE to gather pertinent information and work proficiently during recovery efforts.
“We run reservoir system operations 365 days a year, and since we are in the wet season now, our primary focus is flood risk management,” said Rodino. “Since the 2010 flood, we’ve developed a lot of important capabilities like the Corps Water Management System Model which is run daily and ingests rainfall data from the National Weather Service and uses it to help us project water levels in our reservoirs, determine release plans from those reservoirs, and create inundation maps when necessary.”
The workshop covered the four primary water storage revisors on the Cumberland River: Wolf Creek Dam, Dale Hollow Dam, Center Hill Dam, and J. Percy Priest Dam. These reservoirs allow the Corps to reduce damages caused by flooding along the Cumberland River which could impact local communities.
“When rainfall occurs, having the ability to store water within these four flood risk management projects is essential to our mission to maintain water levels on the Cumberland River and mitigate potential flooding,” Rodino explained,” since we don’t have the ability to store water at locations like Cordell Hull, Old Hickory, and Cheatham Dams, where the rainfall occurs is just as important as how much rainfall occurs.”
When responding to a flood event, both Water Management and Emergency Management can activate up to a 24/7 operating status to provide personnel assistance and flood risk management operations oversight. These departments maintain constant communication with other District offices, and Federal State and local emergency management agencies who inform local communities so they can be well prepared.
“In 2019, we had record setting rainfall, which pushed the system to store a record amount of water behind our dams,” said Rodino, “by using data collected during that year and other prior year’s, we are able to develop more accurate scenarios in our workshops and be better prepared for emergency response ahead of time.”
The workshop gave further guidance to District employees who will be directly involved with emergency flood response and reinforced structured practices that are already in place, while also introducing new methods of emergency response. Employees were able to ask questions, give feedback, and get a closer look at how other sections conduct their emergency response processes.
“It’s important we go above and beyond as a District when it comes to emergency preparedness and response. Through this workshop, we are able to brainstorm on the most effective ways to prepare the Nashville District for what’s to come,” said Sahl.
(The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on the district’s website at www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps.)