Group asks Tennessee legislature for statewide flood plan

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Posted at 6:26 PM, Jan 13, 2022

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

The group, including members of Flood Ready Tennessee and TN Renewable Energy & Economic Development Council (TREEDC), met Thursday with multiple elected officials. They're asking 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 President of TREEDC.

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

"Our city has a population of a little over 5,000," said Land. "Our property tax is a little over $750,000 a year. Our police budget alone was over a million dollars. We fund with sales tax, of course. There's just no monies for the small cities and the small counties to put together to have someone come in and do a plan."

The group brought in help from PEW Charitable Trusts.

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

"It's the most common, costly disaster across the country. In Tennessee alone, flooding last year cost $240,000,000 dollars in damage," he said.

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

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

Land said many of the small counties can't afford to hire outside experts and there isn't enough staff to spend a lot of time creating their own solutions.

They hope lawmakers will create a plan in 2022.