Nashville introduces new disaster website www.privateofficer
Dean said the Nashville Emergency Response Viewing Engine, or NERVE, will allow residents to type in an address and see where roads and schools are closed, how to evacuate an area and where emergency shelters and food, water and clothing distribution centers are located.
“During the flood, the public really sought out road closure information, and it was challenging to provide real-time updates using our traditional communication tools,” the mayor said. “If you are trying to seek shelter or reconnect with family members during an emergency, the last thing you need is to get blocked by road closures or to spend time figuring out detours.”
The program, which also will include a Twitter feed and news releases, is available at maps.nashville.gov/NERVE. Mobile and iPad versions will be available later this year, the mayor’s office said.
Dean introduced the program during a news conference at the Metro Emergency Operations Center in advance of the second anniversary of the 2010 flood, which dumped more than 13 inches of rain on the city in two days, killing 11 people and damaging $2 billion worth of property. Dean once again praised the response by government officials, nonprofit groups, neighbors and volunteers.
“I’m proud of the way our community came together in the days after the flood, and I am proud of how far we’ve come since then,” he said.
The mayor said city officials also have developed software that helps them predict when and where flooding will occur by using rainfall data, river levels and sophisticated mapping. Called Situational Awareness for Flooding Events, or SAFE, the program helps Dean and other emergency responders make decisions in the Emergency Operations Center’s “war room.”
Nonprofit officials also spoke, led by Ellen Lehman, president of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. Lehman said the foundation, which has been criticized at times for not giving out charitable donations for flood recovery efforts quickly enough, has now distributed or committed all of the $15.04 million it received.
She said the money, which came from more than 20,000 donations, has helped repair 11,978 homes and rebuild 592 while providing 1,239 people with rental or mortgage assistance and removing 143 tons of debris from waterways, among other accomplishments.
“Tennesseans and their families were able to restore their lives,” she said.
She said the Flood Recovery Network canvassed more than 5,400 flood-damaged homes last December to see where people still needed help. It found that 4,954 of the homes were repaired and occupied, but 80 needed additional repairs and were offered assistance by the network. The rest appeared to be vacant, had been demolished, were for sale, were occupied and in the process of being repaired, or were impossible to assess for safety reasons.
Lehman encouraged people who still need help to call 615-567-3232.
Loretta Owens, executive director of The Housing Fund, said Metro’s We Are Home program, designed to help flood victims obtain gap financing to help rebuild their homes, has established new programs in recent months. Those can help owners of damaged rental properties; victims of landslides and mudslides that occurred during the flood; people who need to elevate their homes; people working to make a down payment on a new home after accepting a buyout; and people who want to buy flooded homes that have been vacant or foreclosed upon “so we can continue the recovery of the neighborhoods.”
We Are Home’s website is at http://www.thehousingfund.org/floodrebuildassistance.html.
Dean also announced that Metro government has combined its community hotline and 311 line to handle citizens’ calls more efficiently during emergencies. 311 is now the one number to call.
Eric Dewey, president of United Way of Metropolitan Nashville, said 211, a community services help line, also played a critical role in the days after the flood. It received more than 20,000 calls in the first 10 days, allowing United Way to plot on a map the areas that needed the most help.
Dewey said that information helped United Way decide where to put its six Restore the Dream centers, which provided long-term case management for flood victims who were working to get their lives in order. He said United Way officials who had been through natural disasters in South Florida and Louisiana flew to Nashville in the days immediately after the flood and helped the local staff devise a case management system that could look beyond the first 30 or 60 days.
“We might have been months behind on case management if we hadn’t done that,” Dewey said in an interview after speaking at the news conference. “We were doing the immediate term and the long term at the same time.”
The Restore the Dream centers, operated in partnership with several other nonprofit organizations, ultimately helped more than 1,200 families.