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Commissioner Mainda Urges Tennesseans to Rethink Flood Insurance on Tenth Anniversary of Nashville Flood

Thursday, April 30, 2020 | 11:13am

Ten years ago, Nashville and the surrounding areas were devastated by a flood whose magnitude will never be forgotten. As the floodwaters invaded Nashville, took lives, and damaged property and public infrastructure, we all watched with immense disbelief and sadness. Immediately following that, we pulled together, volunteered to help each other, and helped the city recover. With the recent series of tornadoes across Tennessee simultaneous with the spread of the global COVID-19 pandemic, we have again faced unbelievable sadness and devastation, but it seems that there is truly nothing that Tennesseans cannot face and eventually overcome.

Flooding is the most common and costly natural disaster in the United States. According to the National Weather Service, over 13 inches of rain occurred during the 36-hour period surrounding the 2010 flood. In addition to the personal cost, trauma, and damage, the flood cost billions of dollars in damage throughout Music City including to longtime local staples like Opry Mills and the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. Additionally, thousands of Nashvillians were displaced from their homes and around 27 individuals lost their lives.

Of course, as the Volunteer State always does, Tennesseans came together as one to help our neighbors as we cleaned up endless piles of debris and tried to put Nashvillians lives back together; just as many did again this year during the Tennessee tornadoes. As an example, one community non-profit, Hands On Nashville, provided thousands of service hours to the community in an effort to rebuild our devastated city.

The importance of a resilient Tennessee that helps each other during times of need is vital to a strong Tennessee in the future. While, we cannot prevent another flood from occurring, we can have a state that is financially prepared for the damage when it hits.

Purchasing or renewing flood insurance is one of the most important steps you can take to financially prepare for a disaster. It’s important to note that just one inch of water in the average-sized home can cause more than $25,000 in damage. The cost of having flood insurance is a drop in the bucket, compared to the cost of flood damage. In 2019 nationally, the average flood insurance claim payment was $53,301 and the average flood insurance premium payment was $674.

Some folks assume that if there is a disaster, the federal government will come in and rebuild to the prior standard they were at before the flood. However, this does not happen in every case — only when a flood is big enough, and the damages high enough that the state will request a presidential disaster declaration and be granted the request from the Federal Government.  Flood insurance is vital for flood preparedness because aid can take months and it may not be enough to cover the costs of rebuilding a home in the aftermath of a flood.

As Tennessee’s insurance regulator, I want to remind Tennesseans of the reality they will face when that next flood pours into their communities. First, traditional homeowners’ insurance does not cover flood damage. Therefore, you should consider buying flood insurance sooner rather than later because you must hold the policy at least 30 days prior to when a flood occurs.

Whether you live in a home or own a business in a flood zone or not, I am asking Tennesseans a decade after the Nashville Flood, to rethink having flood insurance for the sake of their families and businesses. I also encourage community leaders across Tennessee to participate in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). For more community guidance and regulations on the NFIP, please visit FEMA’s webpage https://www.fema.gov/participation-national-flood-insurance-program. As a Tennessee consumer, if your municipality does not participate, please contact a licensed insurance agent and ask about purchasing a private flood policy.

Tennessee, let’s volunteer to be better prepared by taking the right steps to protect the life you have built and your property. Preparedness starts with you: individuals, families, and communities. Take steps today by speaking with your insurance agent to review and renew your policy and visit FloodSmart.gov to purchase a new flood insurance policy because where it rains, it could flood.

Hodgen Mainda serves as the Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance and the State Fire Marshal.