Reported By Chris Bundgaard, Reporter - bio | email
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -
A U.S. Army Corp of Engineers spokesperson said flood control is a top priority this weekend as soggy weather is expected to move through Middle Tennessee Saturday and Sunday.
The Corp, which oversees the series of locks and dams on the Cumberland River system in Tennessee and Kentucky, was often criticized and sued for its controversial role in the Nashville area's devastating flood of 2010.
"We are taking no chances," said Corp civil engineer Randy Kerr who has been in and out of meetings all week with the National Weather Service.
They don't anticipate a "major event" this weekend, but Kerr said he will be one of several Corp workers on duty to monitor what could be a lot of rain.
During the 2010 flood, reviews of the Corps performance in managing the Cumberland system were often critical because it was understaffed that May weekend.
"It looks like about three inches this weekend," added Kerr. "That amount is manageable, but if it got to six inches of rain, then we might have a different story."
Last weekend, rains shot Percy Priest Lake up by almost seven feet, which left water cascading over normally dry walkways.
"That's more water than we like to have in there," added the Corp spokesperson. "So since Tuesday at 3 a.m. we began releasing water through all four spillway gates at the dam."
With the predicted three inches this weekend, the Corp would like to have some room for the additional rain so it can prevent flooding downstream.
In 2010, water levels at storage reservoirs like Percy Priest became part of the controversy with fingers pointed at the Corp for not lowering the levels enough to contain the heavy rainfall without causing downstream flooding.
Nearby Old Hickory Dam became the linchpin when water almost spilled over its top forcing the Corp to leave its gate wide open, but that sent the Cumberland downstream into the streets of downtown neighborhoods and low lying neighborhoods or industrial areas near the river.
The Corp spokesperson said 4,300 cubic feet per second (cfs) is shooting out of the Percy Priest Dam's four spillway gates "with another 4,600 cfs going through the generator for a total discharge of 8,900 cfs.
Reporter Chris Bungaard will have the story on Nashville's News 2 at 6 p.m.