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Sunday, May 2

On same day massive flood rains hit Nashville catastrophic water main break shuts off clean water to Boston

Disasters converge on two American capital cities: Nashville, Tennessee and Boston, Massachusetts

Tennessee

  • At least five people killed as between 6-10 inches of rain fall in 12 hours in the Nashville area causing "extremely dangerous" flooding

  • "This is one of the most severe rain events Nashville has ever experienced," said Nashville Mayor Karl Dean

  • Record flooding at Mill Creek, near Antioch, Tennessee

  • Two levee breaks displace at least 2,000 people near Memphis

  • Rain expected to continue into Sunday morning;
  • Nashville is the capital of the U.S. state of Tennessee and the county seat of Davidson County. It is located on the Cumberland River in Davidson County, in the north-central part of the state. The city is a major hub for the health care, music, publishing, banking and transportation industries, and is home to a large number of colleges and universities.

    Nashville has a consolidated city-county government which includes seven smaller municipalities in a two-tier system. The population of Nashville-Davidson County stood at 626,144 as of 2008, according to United States Census Bureau estimates. This makes it the second most populous city in the state after Memphis. However, the 2009 population of the entire 13-county Nashville Metropolitan Statistical Area was 1,582,264, making it the largest metropolitan area in the state. The 2009 population of the Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Columbia combined statistical area was estimated at 1,666,566. [Wikipedia]
    May 1, 2010 10:27 p.m. EDT
    At least 5 dead in Tennessee flooding; tornado warnings in Arkansas
    By the CNN Wire Staff

    (CNN) -- Severe flooding killed at least five people in central Tennessee on Saturday, officials said, as floodwaters inundated roads, highways and homes in and around the Nashville area.

    The National Weather Service also said 33 of 75 counties in Arkansas are under a tornado warning, and 25 counties in Tennessee are under a tornado watch.
    [...]
    Between 6 and 10 inches of rain has fallen in 12 hours in the area, causing "extremely dangerous" flooding, the National Weather Service said.

    "This is one of the most severe rain events Nashville has ever experienced," Nashville Mayor Karl Dean said in a statement.

    Dean said more than 50 water rescues had been conducted Saturday, and more were underway.

    "I urge all Nashville residents to stay home and stay off the roads," Dean said.

    At least 2,000 people were displaced after two levees broke in Millington, a small city near Memphis, Millington Police said.

    Video from CNN affiliate WZTV showed more than a dozen vehicles submerged in several feet of swift-moving water on I-24 in Nashville.

    Rescue workers helped drivers escape as water surrounded their cars, CNN affiliate WSMV reported. The floodwaters pushed a home off of its foundation and into the middle of I-24.

    Video from WZTV showed a school annex building floating down the interstate before breaking into pieces.

    WSMV: Section of I-24 closed by massive flooding

    Officials are advising residents to stay off roads, as many have become impassable.

    Janel Lacy, a spokeswoman for the Nashville mayor's office, said that in addition to I-24 in Davidson County, 20 other local roads were closed.

    CNN iReporter Andrew Ellis sent in a video of a "raging river" of water rushing over an open field where people usually play soccer and golf in Lexington, Tennessee.

    "The flooding brought the town to a standstill. No one could get in and no one could get out," he said. "Many homes, vehicles and entire neighborhoods either were or still are under water."
    [...]
    Lacy said one shelter had opened at Lipscomb University, and officials planned to open others.

    The rain is expected to continue into Sunday morning, she said.

    Heidt said floodwaters were expected to crest around 11 p.m. CT (midnight ET) Saturday.

    The weather service has reported record flooding at Mill Creek, near Antioch, Tennessee.
    Massachusetts

  • ‘Catastrophic’ rupture hits Greater Boston's water system

  • 8 million gallons per hour gush from huge Weston pipe

  • Backup reservoirs tapped; 2m ordered to boil water

  • “This is everyone’s worst nightmare in the water industry"

  • Best-case scenario is break will be repaired in days, not weeks
  • Boston ... is the capital and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is sometimes regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact. Boston city proper had a 2008 estimated population of 620,535, making it the twenty-first largest in the country. Boston is also the anchor of a substantially larger metropolitan area called Greater Boston, home to 4.5 million people and the tenth-largest metropolitan area in the country. [Wikipedia]
    May 2, 2010
    Michael Levenson and Beth Daley, writing for the Boston Globe

    Nearly 2 million residents of Greater Boston lost their supply of clean drinking water when a huge pipe abruptly burst yesterday, prompting authorities to declare a state of emergency and to impose a sweeping order for homeowners and businesses to boil the untreated water now flowing from their taps.

    Governor Deval Patrick said residents in Boston and 29 other communities east of Weston should boil water for at least a minute before drinking it to avoid the risk of getting sick. He also asked bottled water companies and the National Guard to help make clean water available to residents in the affected communities.

    The crisis began around 10 a.m. yesterday when a 10-foot-wide pipe in Weston sprang a leak, which worsened throughout the afternoon and eventually cut off Greater Boston from the Quabbin Reservoir, where most of its water supply is stored.
    [...]
    “This is everyone’s worst nightmare in the water industry,’’ said Frederick A. Laskey, executive director of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority.
    [...]
    Officials said they did not know how long it would take to restore clean drinking water to the region, but Laskey said he hopes it will be “days, not weeks.’’

    Officials also said they did not know what caused the relatively new seven-year-old steel pipe to break 20 feet underground, near Recreation Road by the intersection of the Massachusetts Turnpike and Route 128.

    Officials shut off the water supply into the pipe at about 6:40 p.m. Soon after, engineers discovered rubber gaskets floating above the leak, leading them to theorize that the pipe had ruptured at a sleeve connecting sections of the pipe.

    By 10 p.m., Laskey said engineers could see into the pipe. It was still half-full with water. But he said he was encouraged that the problem might be solved relatively soon because the sleeves could be fixed more easily than the steel pipe.

    “In a sense, it’s the most vulnerable point in the system,’’ said Tom Baron, an independent water systems engineer who formerly worked for the water authority.

    Officials said that if they cannot repair the pipe with a temporary patch, a new custom-made pipe might have to be built. Officials had been building a backup system for Greater Boston’s drinking water system, but it is three or four years from completion. Before water was shut off to the ruptured pipe yesterday, brown water had been roaring from a massive crater in the ground, sending more than 8 million gallons an hour rushing down a hill into the nearby Charles River.

    The state Department of Conservation and Recreation said the millions of gallons pouring into the river would not be a problem, even as the river’s elevation rose by 8 inches in some locations and its flow nearly doubled in a matter of hours.

    “Our dams can handle this,’’ said Wendy Fox, a spokeswoman for the agency.

    But Nigel Pickering, senior engineer and watershed modeler for the Charles River Watershed Association, warned that the water entering the river from the break could stir up sediment, harming fish. Laskey said it did not appear that sediments had been kicked up as of last night.

    Authorities said that contractors and engineers would know more about what went wrong today, when they have a chance to better inspect the pipe.

    “I really don’t want to speculate,’’ Laskey said at the scene of the break. “We’ve got to get there to know.’’ [...]
    See entire Boston Globe report for additional information on how the crisis is affecting the drinking supply for communities and how officials are responding.
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