Flood Safety Awareness Week: How to Prepare for the Unexpected




Duane Phillips is the Director of the Nashville Emergency Communications Center.  Previously he served as a Lieutenant with the Metro Nashville Police Department.   He has spent more than half his life protecting and serving the citizens of Nashville


In May of 2010, Nashville TN was hit with a devastating flood, covering the city in more than 17 inches of rainfall and causing the Cumberland River to crest at 51.86 feet (12 feet above flood stage).  Nashville residents were forced to evacuate their homes, seeking shelter for their family members and pets, while having to leave all of their possessions behind.

March 12-16 is National Flood Safety Awareness Week in the US.  The National Weather Service encourages all residents to take notice of the weather related threats that could occur at anytime across the country.  When residents are in danger, their first instinct is to dial 9-1-1 for help.  But in extreme situations, normal rescue procedures can’t always be used and it is in preparation for these types of events that citizens should take the time to plan ahead.

When the Nashville flooding began, the Nashville Emergency Communication Center received many 9-1-1 calls for assistance.  Because of the rapidly increasing height of the water, in some cases higher than mailboxes and even street signs, descriptions of houses became increasingly important.  If you think about it, when in an extreme situation, could you accurately describe your home?  What color it is, what the roof looks like, and what materials it is made of?  These are important details to make note of ahead of time.  Write them down and take a picture on your phone for a record.

imagefor The Nashville flood occurred in just two days, leaving little to no time for individuals to plan their evacuation.  If residents were physically able, they could evacuate themselves, but there were many citizens who needed to call for help because they had a disability or medical condition that prohibited them from leaving their home easily.  It is cases like these where having as much information about that citizen as possible benefits both the responders and the citizen.

Nashville implemented Smart911 in August of 2010, enabling all of our residents to create a Safety Profile for their household that is available to our 9-1-1 call takers during an incoming emergency call.  We encourage all citizens to create their profile and include not only their personal and medical information, but also details on their home, their pets and even their vehicles.  In the event of a flood or another natural disaster, it is exactly these details that can help us save lives.

The Nashville Flood by the Numbers (courtesy of www.nashvillerecovery.com)

· nashville Flood 2Rainfall exceeded 17 inches, the highest amount in more than 140 years of recorded history. 13 inches of rain fell in 36 hours, more than doubling the previous two-day rainfall record set in 1979.

·  The Cumberland River crested in Nashville at 51.86 feet, 12 feet above flood stage.

·  According to Metro Planning and Metro Codes, the flood resulted in an estimated $2 billion in damages to private property.

·  11 people died as a result of the flood.

·   In the year following the flood, 25,000 volunteers gave more than 330,000 service hours to recovery and rebuilding efforts.

·  The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce reported 2,773 impacted businesses with 14,499 workers at the time of the flood. Of those jobs lost, 1,528 are considered unlikely

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