Thursday, November 02, 2006

Ask Bob Krumm: Is It Time to Relocate Parts of Nashville?

Before running for the Tennessee Senate, Bob Krumm raised the question after Katrina hit New Orleans in '05 whether the Big Easy should be rebuilt at all. He joined a chorus of post-disaster voices on the right, including controversial Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert. That chorus prompted me last year to raise the history of catastrophic flooding in Nashville and to remind my readers of what we would have lost had leaders chosen not to rebuild parts of Nashville instead of constructing a series of sophisticated dams and flood control measures that have since saved us from further catastrophe.

The Tennessean raised a Katrina-like prospect for Nashville this morning with news of the potential failure of Kentucky's Wolf Creek Dam. It's time to ask proponents of letting flood-prone communities die whether those of us who live in North Nashville should relocate since their post-Katrina question would apply to us in the wake of a catastrophic dam failure along our waterways.


  1. flood-prone communities

    This from wikipedia:
    The city of New Orleans has the lowest elevation in the state of Louisiana, and the third lowest point in the United States, after Death Valley and the Salton Sea.[12] Much of the city is one to ten feet (0.3 to 3 m) below sea level...Because of the city's high water table, most houses do not have basements. In the cemeteries, most crypts are above ground.


    Nashville lies on the Cumberland River in the northwestern portion of the Nashville Basin. Nashville's topography ranges from 113 meters (370 ft) above sea level at the Cumberland River to 227 meters (746 ft) above sea level at its highest point.[3]

    Flood-prone areas?

    So, I guess Eric Rudolph's Atlanta pipe bomb and the Hiroshima bomb were both "bombs".

    Look, I think we should do everything possible to rebuild N'awlins. But we should be honest about the incredible challenge it will be, if we are to do it right.

  2. A better analogy: the flood prone parts of Nashville are to the Cumberland River as the flood prone parts of New Orleans are to the Gulf and the Delta.

    Parts of Tennessee (including parts of Nashville) had catastrophic floods before technology was used to keep those at bay. If we can build such a sophisticated system for the benefit of those areas of the Tennessee Valley that flood, then we can do so for New Orleans, too. When the dams were built in KY and TN, I'm sure it was no less an incredible challenge as New Orleans faces now with advances in flood control technology.

    Besides, we all now know that a higher and stronger levee would have saved the Lower Ninth Ward. That was no challenge at all.

  3. The breached levees were found not to be reinforced. There are engineers who maintained that if the levees had been hardened (reinforced with concrete and steel), then they would have withstood Katrina's floods; you're speculations not withstanding. Let's build the hardened levees, see if they stand or fall, and then agree on your as yet unproven, untechnical conclusions.

    Some parts of Nashville are safer; some parts are not. Some parts of New Orleans (Market District, for instance) are safer; some are not.