May 1, 2017 marks the 7th anniversary of a natural disaster that devastated Nashville, mourned 11 lives lost, saw $2 billion in damage, and ultimately brought our community closer together. Out of the rain that fell seven years ago – 13.5 inches in 36 hours – was born a greater resiliency, an engaged citizenry and stronger social cohesion.
Some 29,000 Nashvillians, many led by nonprofit Hands on Nashville, volunteered with flood remediation for homes, businesses, and natural areas. Many felt that a sense of community bloomed once the flood waters receded. Neighbors helping neighbors made a tragic event easier to bear.
In the storm’s aftermath, the city’s Chief Service Officer under Mayor Karl Dean’s administration developed the “Stormbusters Blueprint” to help cities across the country implement volunteer led flood mitigation and other climate resiliency efforts, based on the work Nashville accomplished post flood. Learn more here.
Hundreds of thousands of citizens pitched in to conserve water in the days and weeks following the flood, as the city’s water purification plants were under strain. When city officials requested that residents conserve water, Nashvillians happily obliged to ensure sufficient safe drinking water for all. Learn more about conserving water at home and in the office from Socket.
Land Use Decisions
In the aftermath of the flood, the city worked towards mitigating further flooding by converting floodplain areas to greenspace and non-residential uses. Metro conducted a buyout of properties in flooded areas. These areas now help to buffer waterways, reduce polluted runoff, and lower the possibility of loss of life and property damage in the case of a flood. In, many cases, the new green areas are community assets, providing education and recreation areas to area residents.
(The Hands onNashville Urban Farm is a great example of flooded land being re-used as green infrastructure and also volunteer and education site)
Nashville is a quickly growing city with new residents and infrastructure being added each day. In response to this rapid growth, city leaders passed regulations to deal with stormwater runoff.
One example is ORDINANCE NO. BL2014-910, requires that residential construction, if creating significant additional impervious surface, “shall include provisions for the management of the first inch (1”) of rainfall runoff from an impervious area equal to the net added impervious area.” In other words, these structures can use rain barrels, rain gardens, pervious pavement, and other catchment techniques to slow and purify rain water before it makes its way into the Cumberland River. More information here.
Nashville’s award-winning Low Impact Development plan details exactly how to achieve this management of the first inch of rainfall. More information here.
Public awareness is key to the city’s preparedness. Now in its 5th year, the city hosts the “Urban Runoff 5K,” a run/walk to boost awareness of stormwater issues. Our very own Socket mascot was one of the race contestants last year!
In an effort to keep our water clean for all, city agencies work to educate the public about water pollution. Recently, Metro Water Services partnered with Metro General Services to place these signs on storm drains throughout the Fulton Campus.
Signs were also installed to designate Fulton Campus bioretention areas, which capture and purify rainwater, resulting in less polluted runoff during a flood event.
Residents have access to a rich suite of informational resources to help manage risk and protect lives and property in the event of a natural disaster.
Metro Water Services provides a webpage with flood risk information, including maps and links to vital data. One such tool is NERVE, or Nashville Emergency Response Viewing Engine. Available on the Web and in mobile apps, NERVE shows which roads are closed, where emergency shelters are open, and where water and food distribution centers are located. Another program is Nashville SAFE, which allows Metro to monitor actual and forecasted river stages and acquire information that can be used to dispatch resources and respond more efficiently when the water rises to a hazardous level. A National Weather Service page contains an array of rich data related to the Nashville flood of 2010.
Now, in 2017, because of our volunteer spirit and our investments to prepare for the worst, if and when an historic flood affects Nashville again, our city is more resilient and better prepared to spring back even stronger. Indeed, We Are Nashville!