MetroCenter Fared Well During Flood

Nashville experienced the worst flooding in memory last month. All around the city, businesses and homes thought to be safe from flooding were damaged. MetroCenter sits on the banks of the Cumberland River. It survived the flood undamaged thanks to a system built into the site to handle flood waters.

The recent flood event represented the worst condition that has tested MetroCenter’s flood protection system. The river quickly rose higher than the lake, ultimately cresting at record levels, preventing the lake from being able to drain into the river. We also had a record rainfall event in a 48-hour period. What happened to MetroCenter? The levee around MetroCenter worked. It did not leak at any point. Water did not flow over it at any point. Officials from storm water management and independent consultants engaged by them checked the levee every day during the May 2010 flood. At no time did the river threaten to spill over the levee next to the river.

An inspection of the levee on May 12, 2010 showed that the river never got closer than approximately 5 feet from the top of the levee.
No sandbags were placed on the levee. A short, low wall of sandbags (about 60’ long by 3’ high) was placed under an overpass on I-65 to the south of MetroCenter (not on the levee) as a precaution. However, flood waters never reached the sandbags. This was done to prevent water that was backing up into the property on the South side of I-65 from flowing under the overpass.

The retention ponds and canals in MetroCenter worked as they are designed to work. Water levels in the retention ponds and canals in MetroCenter did rise – as they are designed to do when it rains – as these ponds and canals collect the rainwater than falls in MetroCenter. No water from the Cumberland River overflowed into these retention ponds and canals. We estimate that the water level reached somewhere between elevation 403 and 404, collecting on MetroCenter streets in a few places where there was a low spot in the street for drainage. Again, this was rainwater that fell in the MetroCenter storm water basin, not water from the Cumberland River.

No building was flooded. No water – neither rainwater from the retention ponds and canals, nor river water from the Cumberland – entered any building at MetroCenter at any time. Some water seeped through the earth berm supporting I-65. However, it was easily
handled by the drainage system.

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