"How Government Decisions Left Tennessee Exposed to Deadly Flooding"

"Choices about building rules, insurance programs, flood maps and more put residents at higher risk, according to climate and disaster experts."

"The floods that killed at least 20 people in Tennessee last weekend arrived with shocking speed and force — seemingly a case study of the difficulties of protecting people from explosive rainstorms as climate change gets worse.

A closer look at what happened in the days, years and even decades before the storm reveals that a series of government decisions — where and how to build, when to update flood maps, whether to join the federal flood insurance program and how to warn of dangerous floods — left residents more exposed to flooding than they had to be.

Record rainfall, at times exceeding three inches an hour, swelled rivers and creeks in Middle Tennessee on Saturday, destroying homes, cutting off power and cellphone service and washing away bridges. Among the dead are 7-month old twins, a 15-year-old girl and an Army veteran who died after helping his wife and daughter escape.

It’s impossible to say whether any single action could have prevented those deaths, especially given the ferocity of the flooding. But interviews with climate and disaster experts and a review of state and federal data show how governments have been slow to adapt to growing threats and failed to take steps that, together, could have lessened the damage."

Christopher Flavelle reports for the New York Times August 26, 2021.

Source: NYTimes, 08/27/2021