POTTER: We really didn’t expect the plant to go. And it was, it was from an engineering perspective and from a personal perspective it was horrifying. It was horrible to see it. And you know it was hard then for me to tell people how I felt and I still really can’t express it. It was just horrible. So, we didn’t plan for the plant to go under water. My guys though, when they saw that it was coming they did everything they could to get that plant in a safe position as possible before they evacuated. That means they shut the plant down properly, they discontinued power to the plant, and they protected what they could and if they didn’t do what they did it would not have been a 28 day recovery it would have been a six month recovery. So, people talk about heroic acts, you know heroism I think involves saving people’s lives, but from an engineering perspective and from a plant perspective and from their personal, professional responsibility perspective, they did heroically.
BLACKMAN: Thank you. And you mentioned Kevin Penney and once Metro, the head of departments got together on that Saturday and you all came together to work through this. Part of this project will look at how we responded as a city and our government and Kevin mentioned to us yesterday that one thing that he regretted was not being able to be out in the field and to actually see and how it was different being in, up on the hill as opposed to out on the streets. Talk to us when you were out assessing or when you were out what was going on through you.
POTTER: I can understand Kevin’s issue. He, everybody wanted to help. They wanted to do something. You know, Kevin’s job was to be OEM and he did a great job and he needs to understand that. One of the things in the Navy that we’re trained over and over and over and over is to believe your indications, believe what your eyeballs are telling you. Because a lot of times you’ll see something and you’ll say ‘that can’t be right’ and you’ll react how you wish what you were seeing was instead of what you were seeing. And I was finding that as I traveled around I was seeing things I didn’t believe and I’m, like ‘that, that can’t be happening’ and then my training would take over and it would be like ‘yes it is, so respond’. Seeing things that just did not make sense. Seeing things you would thought was not possible. So prioritizing the response to a thousand bad things was the biggest problem. You know what do you do when you’re faced with a thousand horrible problems. And one of the things that my senior staff did really well was keep priorities proper. And I think the city did a really good job of that in maintaining life safety as fundamental and almost exclusive until we were able to transition to a other than life safety perspective. The city I think did a great job of recognizing that the stuff can be replaced but the people cannot. And that was what I’m most proud of is that the city, the first responder police officers, fire department, OEM, helicopter pilots, you name it, whoever was doing anything, they all responded to their training properly, they all maintained their composure, they did the right thing. And it was a testimony to I think their individual and collective ability.
U.S. and international copyright laws protect this digital content, which is provided for educational purposes only and may not be downloaded, reproduced, or distributed for any other purpose without written permission. Please contact the Special Collections Division of the Nashville Public Library, 615 Church Street, Nashville, Tennessee, 37219. Telephone (615) 862-5782.