Group asks Tennessee Legislature for statewide flood plan

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) – A flood awareness group is asking state lawmakers to create a plan to prepare rural communities for future floods.

The Rhe group, including members of Flood Ready Tennessee and the TN Renewable Energy & Economic Development Council (TREEDC), met with several elected officials on Thursday. They are calling for a statewide plan to help rural counties with small budgets.

“It’s more than you really realize how much damage flooding really does,” said Dwain Land, former mayor of Dunlap and chairman of TREEDC.

Dunlap is right next to the Sequatchie River. Land said residents are used to flooding, but businesses are still damaged.

“Our town is just over 5,000 people,” Land said. “Our property tax is just over $750,000 a year. Our policing budget alone was over a million dollars. We fund it with sales tax, of course. no money for small towns and small counties to get together to bring somebody in and make a plan.”

The group appealed to PEW Charitable Trusts.

“Unfortunately some of the most economically vulnerable communities are the most vulnerable from a flood perspective,” said Zachary Bartscherer, who works for the charity group.

“It’s the most common and costly disaster across the country. In Tennessee alone, flooding last year cost $240,000,000 in damage,” he said.

The state commissioned a report on severe weather and natural disasters which was released in 2020. It shows that the state is likely to see an increase in severe weather in the future.

It also found that the state could benefit from flood mitigation of up to $12 per dollar spent.

Land said many smaller counties can’t afford to hire outside experts and there aren’t enough staff to spend a lot of time creating their own solutions.

They hope lawmakers will create a plan in 2022.