OLD HICKORY, Tenn. (April 9, 2014) – Local, state and federal agencies met at Old Hickory Dam today to collaborate and enhance partnerships being developed in the Tennessee Silver Jackets program, which promotes cohesive solutions and synchronizes plans and policies.
Russ Rote, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District Planning Branch chief, said in all there were 44 participants who received information about flood risk management from technical experts, and the group continued to benefit from relationship building.
“I think it was a very productive meeting,” Rote said. “We’re starting to see relationships being developed between people just being in a room together. Just being with other agencies is invaluable and those relationships will become important as we have real-world events that require us to coordinate and work together on behalf of citizens in emergency management situations.”
In the morning, Brenda Apple, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Office of Emergency Services director, and Alton Miller, Natural Resources Conservation Service Tennessee Emergency Watershed Protection manager, talked about their organizations’ roles and missions.
Ben Rohrbach, chief of the Nashville District Hydrology and Hydraulics Branch, then explained how the Corps of Engineers manages the Cumberland River System.
Robert Baker, an environmental specialist with TDEC Division of Water Resources, said with emergency preparedness, meeting with other agencies and networking is important from his perspective because the recovery and actions associated with recoveries still require regulatory oversight and review.
“So to the extent that TDEC can be prepared for those emergencies, contingencies and recoveries, and from a regulatory perspective be prepared to have a plan how it’s going to deal with that, then the community is better served because then (recovery actions are) not delayed through the regulatory process,” Baker said. “Just knowing someone that you can contact to find out information is a step ahead.”
Representatives from TDEC, NRCS, Federal Emergency Management Agency, National Weather Service, Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, Tennessee Department of Transportation, Tennessee Economic and Community Development, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Civil Air Patrol Tennessee Wing, Tennessee Valley Authority, Metro Nashville, city of Cleveland, Tenn., U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District, and state of Tennessee then toured the Old Hickory Dam hydropower plant and navigation lock and learned about their operations.
The Silver Jackets team also learned about the mobile command and control capabilities in a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Deployable Tactical Operations System. They toured the vehicle that serves the requirements of the National Response Framework to respond to civil emergencies and recovery missions.
James Sowell, a civil engineering technician in the Nashville District, talked to Silver Jackets participants about the vehicle he helps maintain and operate during contingencies. He said it was good to show and demonstrate the capabilities of the “Emergency Command and Control Vehicle” to the various agencies that have emergency response roles in Tennessee.
“Within 30 minutes our team can have this thing setup and you can have communications anywhere in the country,” Sowell said. “Our whole mission is to get it there on site and have it ready to go.”
The U.S. Army has 15 ECCVs, which are operated by the Corps and stationed regionally across the country. The vehicle, which is prepositioned at Old Hickory Dam, most recently provided command and control capabilities in New York during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. It also supported operations when USACE breached Birds Point Levee near Cairo, Ill., in May 2011 to reduce the swell of water on the Mississippi River.
Richard Flood, a hazard mitigation specialist with the FEMA Region 4 Mitigation Division, said coordinating between agencies at the local, state and federal level and meeting together really helps to collectively leverage the group’s disaster preparedness expertise.
“I was impressed. A lot was learned today,” Flood said. “The sharing of information and partnering – that’s what we should be doing across the board. That reduces the impact not only to our agencies, but also to the communities that we work with. I’m glad we’re partnering like this.”
(For more information about Silver Jackets, go to http://www.nfrmp.us/state/
. A Water Management Education Series is available on the Nashville District website at http://www.lrn.usace.army.mil/Missions/WaterManagement/EducationSeries.aspx
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