From the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Tennessee Valley and on to the Nashville Basin and Mississippi River, our state has incredible natural beauty. It’s also prone to get a bit unruly at times with storms, tornados, and flooding.
The Tennessee Valley Authority, created in 1933, was established to help manage water along the Tennessee River Valley. But storms and heavy rainfall still pose major flooding risks throughout our state.
In this article, we rank the top cities at risk of flooding and provide insight on insurance coverage as well as what to do now to protect your home.
Top Tennessee Cities at Risk of Flooding
The 2020 First National Flood Risk Assessment (FNFRA) estimated that 383,200 properties are at substantial risk of flooding in Tennessee. This is considerably above the FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps that identify 101,400 properties at risk.
The FNFRA assessment takes into account areas that FEMA hasn’t yet mapped, adds precipitation as a separate risk, and includes current climate data. The FNFRA study also identifies 495,300 properties at risk over the next 30 years. This includes 135,500 properties with a 99% chance of flooding at least once during that time.
Here are the top 10 cities.
|City||Total properties at risk||Percentage|
Our Hometowns’ Flooding Risks
Digging deeper into the FNFRA assessment, we’ve provided a bit more insight into the locations in Tennessee where we have offices.
Nashville ranks number one in the ranking above for flooding risk. If we expand this review to include the 14 counties in the Nashville Metropolitan Area (Cannon, Cheatham, Davidson, Dickson, Hickman, Macon, Maury, Robertson, Rutherford, Smith, Sumner, Trousdale, Williamson, and Wilson), we find 77,817 properties at risk of flooding. That’s a stunning 254% more properties than the FEMA listing of 22,012.
Chattanooga, at number three on the list of cities, is in Hamilton County. Reviewing the county data we find that the FNFRA study shows 37,916 properties at risk versus the FEMA maps showing 6,450. That’s a 488% difference.
Knoxville is ranked fourth on the city ranking. If we expand the review to take in all of Knox County, that brings the total properties at risk of flooding to 20,184 in the FNFRA assessment compared to 3,363 in the FEMA study. The FNRFA assessment shows five times the number of properties at risk.
Flood insurance can be a wise choice. FEMA estimates that just one inch of water in a 5,000-square-foot multi-story home can cause $47,110 in damage to the home along with $6,344 in damage to personal property.
More than 157,000 home and property owners in Tennessee have made FEMA flood damage claims since 2000. The largest number of claims have come from Davidson, Hamilton, Shelby, Sumner, and Williamson counties.
Note that it’s best to purchase separate flood insurance. Homeowner’s insurance covers damage only from internal sources of water, such as leaking or burst pipes. This type of insurance does not cover damage from external sources caused by rain, storms, or flooding.
Flooding Protection for Your Home
- Slope Your Landscape Away from the Foundation. In addition, make sure the gutters and downspouts are clear. Use downspout extensions to move the water well away from the foundation.
- Waterproof Your Basement or Crawl Space. Add an internal drainage system along with a sump pump with battery backup. This will prevent any leaks before they can develop into serious flooding.
- Install Flood Sensors. These sensors can detect rising water and alert you at once. They can be added to your security system or connect with a smartphone app.
- Add Flood Vents. These actually allow water into your basement or crawl space to alleviate the buildup of water pressure against the foundation walls. This mitigates the greater damage of collapsing walls.
- Install Backflow Valves. Make sure any drainpipes entering your house have backflow valves to prevent sewage from backing up into your home.
- Use Flood-Resistant Drywall and Insulation. This not only reduces the damage from flooding but also allows easier cleanup.
- Raise Utilities. Water heaters, washing machines, and dryers can be raised above the expected flooding levels. Likewise, electrical outlets and wiring can also be permanently moved higher.
- Move Valuables. Store your valuables in waterproof containers. When possible, store them on an upper flow or at least move them when flooding appears imminent.
In case of flooding in your home, make sure you protect your family. Move to a higher floor or evacuate the premises if you’re in immediate danger from rising waters.
Preparing Your Home
Working through the list above is a good start toward preparing your home for flooding.
We also recommend that you consult the professionals at AFS Foundation and Waterproofing Specialists for a free inspection and repair estimate to identify any issues with your basement or crawl space that need attention in preparation for heavy rains and flooding.
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