MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Half a dozen city, county, and state agencies worked together quickly and efficiently Thursday to prepare for this year's flood season. Historic May floods in 2011 displaced thousands of people in Shelby County. Emergency workers say the biggest challenge they faced last year was communication between different agencies.
The coast guard coordinated Thursday’s field exercise. Memphis fire, police, Shelby County tactical unit, and even special ops were in the Mississippi River simulating rescue procedures. They say they'll be ready next time.
It was May 9, 2011 when the Mississippi River rose 14-feet above flood stage. In Shelby County alone, more than 2,800 homes flooded. Thankfully no one lost their life. That's due in part to emergency responders who know training is key. More than 60 came together to refine their skills.
"We feel that this is very important. It saves lives every year,” said U.S. Coast Guard Lieutenant Brian Miller, coordinator of the training exercise. “Last year we deployed five times and when we're on standby we train hundreds of responders. The year before last when Millington flooded, just my team we pulled 70 people out of their homes."
The group went through a number of scenarios, including rescuing people from flooded homes and even handling a levy failure. The goal: be ready for the real thing.
"We are testing our equipment and personnel and we're practicing an inner-agency cooperation and communication,” said Lt. Miller. “There's a lot of renewed interest in flood response operations because of last year's historic high water."
The Army Corps of Engineers is currently working on levees damaged from last year's floods in the Mid-South. The federal government is helping to pay for those repairs. The corps says the repairs are costing nearly $10 million.