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Corps gathers community input for Harpeth River feasibility study

Judi and John Larson were most concerned about solutions and prevention of future flooding events. Their new home is located between the 500-year and 100-year flood plain at Morton Mill and Harpeth Mill located in the Bellevue area. Reports indicate that water rose to 5 inches in their home during the flood, which has since been gutted and restored. 

They are studying the map with Engineer Dan MacDonald. 

The May 2010 flood that ravaged surrounding areas for 48-hours with 18-20 inches of rain has brought together the Army Corps of Engineers and three cities as partners in a feasibility study of the Harpeth River Watershed.
Last night, the Corps held a community meeting at Harpeth Valley Elementary School in Nashville to obtain input from residents about the study in partnership with the cities of Brentwood, Franklin and Nashville, as well as Williamson County. A previous community meeting was held in Franklin. 
The feasibility study will assess flood-risk management and ecosystem restoration in the basin. The cost will be approximately $1.4 million. 
The May 2010 flood, also referred to as the 1,000-year flood unleashed devastation at a historical level, causing about $480 million in damages to the areas in its path, shared Craig Carrington, project manager with the Corps.
According to reports, about five homes were demolished and rebuilt in Williamson County, while 243 homes were demolished in Davidson County due to extensive damage caused by the storm.  
At the yesterday’s meeting, Corps representatives received written comments from residents in Williamson, Davidson and Cheatham counties about their experiences during the event. 
Participants were asked to post their concerns about flooding on special-categorized easels divided into the categories of “flooding,” “recreation,” “ecosystem,” and “other.”
Anonymous citizen comments regarding their “concerns” included the following:
“Massive and persistent amount of flood debris still in river.”
“Maintenance of canoe access points in high recreation areas …”
“Road to Meadows Nursing Home, ” and “Don’t restrict development based on a 500-year flood/rainfall event.”
“Community meetings like this provide a framework to address the problems and concerns of citizens,” Carrington said. 
“We will compile and analyze the data we receive tonight and incorporate the information into our report. We don’t pretend to be the smartest in the room. We want to hear from the public who have personal experience.”
Partnering with neighboring cities and counties will prove beneficial, Carrington added.  
“This is a rare opportunity for the Corps and communities to look at the (Harpeth river holistically without political boundaries and without a concern about lines,” he said. 
Franklin Planning Commissioner Roger Lindsey, who has served as a flood plain and stormwater manager for Metro Nashville’s water department for the past 10 years, attended the event.
“The scope of this project will allow us to evaluate the problem areas within the Harpeth area river system in a way that lets us define solutions that are cost effective,” Lindsey said. 
He also added that many homes in the Bellevue and Franklin areas that were hardest hit by the storm were built to accommodate 100-year flood plain ordinances. 
“The issue was the magnitude of the storm,” he said.  
“We will never cure or build anything that prevents an event like the May 2010 flood,” Carrington said during discussions.
However, there are ways to reduce the impact, Corps representatives in attendance explained, such as managing storm water flow by evaluating tributaries and significant run-off spots to reduce damage to homes, roads and the ecosystem.
“For example, if there is a driveway at a nursing home that floods, which could affect ambulance access, please let us know. We want to look at that,” Carrington said. “If there is a canoe access point that needs to be looked at, please include your comments.”
The Harpeth River watershed reaches about six counties in Tennessee.
“We want to find ways to reduce the impact, especially upstream, south in the Harpeth River basin and slow down water during significant flooding events,” Lindsey said.

Posted on: 12/20/2013


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