Improvements to flood preparation continue 5 years after devastating flood

News / May 1, 2015

By Davis Nolan
Published: May 1, 2015, 2:22 pm  Updated: May 1, 2015, 3:27 pm

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Five years ago, Nashville residents witnessed the beginning of 2010’s historic flooding when Mill Creek inundated Interstate 24 near Bell Road.

Cars were covered to their roofs, with motorists barely escaping to safety. Even a portable classroom from Lighthouse Christian School floated down the interstate and disintegrated before our eyes. Many improvements have been made since 2010 to prevent motorists from driving into such a life-threatening situation again.

“Since the May 2010 flood, the United States Geological Service has partnered with the city of Nashville to add additional stream gauging in some of the problem areas that come up, including here at Mill Creek and the Nolensville Road area. And this will help give some lead time to hopefully prevent an incident like we had on I-24,” said James LaRosa, hydrologist for the National Weather Service.

A camera was installed at this location and will be used by the Metro Office of Emergency Management and Metro Water Services to monitor Mill Creek.

“We can see in the field what the conditions are now, we can feed all this information into a model and we can predict what’s going to happen next and what the peaks will be. We can send out state police to block the interstate, if that’s looking like what is going to be necessary,” said John Kennedy, Deputy Director of Metro Water Service. In addition, TDOT cameras and message boards will be used to warn motorists of impending danger.

James La Rosa explained the partnership between agencies: “This is really a partnership between the USGS and the city of Nashville, and we’ve taken that to establish flood stages here and gather impacts here and all up and down Mill Creek,” said LaRosa. The hope is that new technology and coordination between all agencies involved will keep travelers on a federal interstate out of danger.