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Farragut flood elevation higher

Farragut Community Development director Ruth Hawk said this month’s earlier flash flooding demonstrated one inescapable fact — development has drastically raised the area’s base flood elevation.

“Staff met with a FEMA contractor a few months back, and they told us that our base flood elevation had risen three feet. We’re like, ‘Uh, no; it has not,’” Hawk told Farragut Municipal Planning Commission Thursday, March 17.

“Well, they were right,” she added.

The event that proved it was the heavy rains and subsequent flash flooding that occurred Monday, Feb. 28, and Tuesday, March 1. The flooding covered parts of Concord Road, Brook-lawn Street and Campbell Station and Virtue roads.

While the flash flooding did cover streets, walking trails and parking lots and while it flooded at least one building in Town, Hawk said the characteristics of a flash flood are that the water rises very quickly but also recedes very quickly. In this case, much of the water near Brooklawn and Campbell Station receded into the wetlands adjacent to Town Hall.

Hawk showed commissioners photographs taken by Town staff of the flooding throughout Farragut limits.

She said Farragut ordinances require construction to be three feet above FEMA’s base flood elevation — now the apparent new base flood elevation.

“And that’s a good thing, because they had to close [Pinnacle Bank off Brooklawn Street] because it was surrounded by water,” Hawk said.

“Fortunately, it tops out at Campbell Station Road before it would flood any of the buildings, but it is right at it,” she added.

She said Farragut’s floodwater ordinances might seem strict, but they were designed to prevent flood and property damage.

“This [flooding] illustrates why we require that buildings be elevated. Because our goal is to prevent property damage,” Hawk said. Parking lots and streets may flood, the pictures showed, but ideally, businesses and homes would not.

“That’s [also] why you have open space use in areas that flood. Flooding of a walking trail is very acceptable,” Hawk said.

Hawk said North Fork Turkey Creek (near the Brooklawn development) and Turkey Creek are being restudied by FEMA “because of the heavy development.”

“The last FEMA maps the Town adopted are officially dated 2007, but the studies were actually done in the late 1990s. The 2000s were really, really, really crazy and there was a lot of development,” Hawk said.

“And that makes sense — with more development, you get more impervious surface and you get more flooding,” she added.

Hawk told planning commissioners they could expect to adopt new base flood elevation guidelines for the Town as FEMA released its new statistics for Turkey Creek and North Fork Turkey Creek.


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