PENNEY: Some things that benefited, some accomplishments that benefited the city unique to this situation that would make a, our response more effected ,more effective rather. One of them being, a few years ago Nashville applied for a very sought-after course in Emmetsburg, MD that’s sponsored by FEMA that’s fully funded that will train up to 75 local personnel on a scripted disaster in a table-top atmosphere in a classroom environment over a four day period. And we attended that course. I think there was about 65 of us. OEM led that and the Mayor agreed to do this and we dedicated just a multitude of local government personnel and officials, department heads, public safety department heads, other departments, utilities, non-profits, all together in one room to collaborate over what was scripted as a major flood disaster in Nashville.
BLACKMAN: And this is two years prior, a few years-
PENNEY: It was actually the year prior.
PENNEY: Yeah, I mean it was still fresh in everyone’s minds and so I would say that was very much a big benefit to the responders and for the people working in our Emergency Operations Center. We had previously gone through an upgrade in our Emergency Operations Center with equipment and technology that streamlined the process quite a bit. Continuous training and exercising on incident management systems with local departments, first responders and the community. I would say other systems that really proved beneficial was memorandums of understanding with non-profits such as the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee to coordinate our cash donation system which was extremely successful. This was the first time it had really been, well we had a disaster since ’98 tornado that the Community Foundation coordinated and I believe the amount is well into the millions of dollars. The key there is the money is raised locally and it stays local.
Another memoranda of understanding which was a successful system in place was with Hands On Nashville. And that agreement was basically, would turn the responsibility, or assign the responsibility to their organization to register and train and rapidly deploy a managed volunteer cadre to help citizens and they were remarkable. Early on in the flood when we couldn’t get another non-profit to staff an emergency shelter for about 200 people that were stranded from I-40 and they were stuck on a bus at the Home Depot parking lot in Bellevue at midnight . They had nowhere to go. Their cars were stuck on the Interstate, ‘cause it was flooded. We had to activate a shelter at Bellevue Middle School. And we didn’t have the other agency available to staff so Hands On Nashville stepped up to the plate and made it happen, and they actually, through their notification system got students from Trevecca College to staff that shelter. And I remember driving out there at four in the morning-there was a little break in the weather- to check on the shelter and I heard about 200 snoring, tired flood victims on cots in a big gymnasium and I was relieved that they were taken care of.