Dam Day Afternoon

There is a lot of controversy this week about the Army Corp of Engineers. Now that waters have receded and we all are eyeballing the sky with newfound respect and a bit of trepidation, the one thing leaders are doing is looking at mistakes that were made. The issue came up earlier this

Old Hickory Lock And Dam

week when Rep. Jim Cooper basically asked what was going on in an article in The City Paper.

You know the old saying, “those who don’t learn from the mistakes of the past are destined to repeat them” which we as a state don’t want to go through again when it comes to flooding.

There is a lot of water in this state and because of that, there are a great deal of dams. Sen. Roy Herron is wanting inspections of dams that are exempt from inspection. Honestly, when I first hear that there were dams exempt I questioned this. Basicially my response was “WHY THE HELL AREN’T WE INSPECTING THESE DAMS??” Well, there were more curse words, but that is a PG-13 dramatization of what I basically said. And Herron is absolutely right.

Even the New York Times has an article from late yesterday questioning why the Army Corps released water during the worse part of the actual flooding. Of course the Corps is saying that the dams are more for energy than they are for flood control. I guess my question is why not both? I’m no engineer but I do think that mistakes were made. Betsy Phillips at Pith in the Wind questioned this brilliantly yesterday. This isn’t the first flood.

Across the state, there has been flooding before as well. West Tennessee sits on the mighty Mississippi River. The Tennessee River flows with wild abandon.  Look at how many rivers are in this state. It’s pretty massive. To be a landlocked state, we have plenty of rivers. Just look at the list. Back in the 70s, much attention was given to the Forked Deer River on channelization from politicians from West Tennessee. The Obion River floods quite a bit, even in off years. The Buffalo River or even the The Duck River, that is the only river we have that runs 240 miles and is the longest river that exclusively in the state where the Normandy Dam is located. (Incidentally the history of the Duck River is pretty interesting.) And of course, the Cumberland River which is the focus of the criticism of the Army Corps. The list of rivers for this state, however, goes on and on and on.

One thing we’ve spoke about a great deal here at STP is that there was a lack of communication that occurred on many levels since May 1. The Associated Press has a story regarding that not only that element was happening for common citizens, but between the entities who needed to be communicating. In other words, there was a mess.

A National Weather Service hydrologist says the extent of flooding in Nashville could have been more accurately predicted if the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had kept them up to date on how much water it was releasing into the Cumberland River.

“That’s the information we used to put out the forecast for Nashville,” Jim Noel said. “If we had information that was several hours old, that’s the information that we worked off of.”

At a joint news conference on Thursday, officials from both agencies described communication problems during the recent flooding that killed 22 people in Tennessee and caused more than $2 billion in damage in Nashville alone.

I think it’s obvious that there should be an investigation on what worked during those first fateful first days of May, and what didn’t.

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