NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Lawyers familiar with the actions of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the National Weather Service during the records rains in early May think there is a federal case to be made because of the huge flood damage to Nashville's Opryland Hotel complex.
The attorneys spoke on the condition of anonymity because of potential involvement, but they believe a case can be made against the Corps and the Weather Service citing "mismanagement, lack of communication and inaccurate information" from those agencies.
Gaylord Entertainment CEO Colin Reed stoked the potential brew of legal action Wednesday during a conference call with investors and reporters.
He confirmed that because of an estimated $200 million flood repair bill at Gaylord's Opryland Hotel, the company "has retained hydrologists and legal support to look at what remedies might be available."
The Corps of Engineers and the Weather Service came under fire first from flooded residents near the Opryland Hotel the night of May 1 when there were claims of too much water released downstream from nearby Old Hickory Dam.
The Corps and Weather Service work in concert in making river crest predictions based on forecasts.
In the following days, politicians, including U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander and Nashville congressman Jim Cooper, issued calls for hearings into the actions of the Corps and the Weather Service.
Most of the questions raised dealt with proper warnings, predictions and if the Corps needed to unleash so much water that it knew would cause downstream flooding.
"We now know the accuracy of information certain government agencies proved unreliable," Reed claimed in his conference call.
The CEO has pointed to flawed information from the Corps and Weather Service that said the nearby Cumberland River would crest two feet below the levees near the Opryland Hotel.
What Gaylord could have done differently had they had more accurate predictions of flooding will likely be an issue if the matter goes to court.
Soon after the Corps starting getting the criticism, it pointed out in numerous media appearances that it believes its careful water releases from filled up reservoirs behind area dams kept the Cumberland River from cresting four feet higher than it did.
On May 20, the Corps and the Weather Service held a joint news conference to offer a step-by-step account of their actions.
They believe appropriate warnings were issued, but no one could have predicted the effect of the rainiest weekend on record when at least 13 inches fell.