Natural Disasters in Tennessee

Natural Disasters in Tennessee

When it comes to natural disasters, it’s easy to think it’ll never happen to you. However, the reality of it is, Mother Nature treats everyone the same. Tennessee is at risk of multiple natural disasters and its history includes floods, tornadoes, and earthquakes. They say history repeats itself, so it’s important to take natural disasters in Tennessee seriously.

Flood Safety

In May 2010, Nashville and middle Tennessee were victims of mass flooding. Within a 36 hour window, nearly 14 inches of rain covered the city. The damage was estimated at $2 billion for private properties and $120 million for public buildings and structures. Fortunately, you can help protect yourself, your family, and your home by understanding the following information:

Floods and Flash Floods

It’s easy to think floods and flash floods are the same things, but the truth is, they are very different. They both create devastating results, but the reason for the flooding is the differentiating factor. Floods occur when an area of land is flooded due to a waterway being overflowed and is a long-term event that may last days or weeks. A flash flood occurs from excessive rain and generally occurs within six hours.

What causes a flood?

Rains, river overflow, and ice/snow melts are just a few flood-causing factors. Recently, climate change has led to widespread flooding. A strong current can carry cars, trees, and even people while destroying most of what’s in its path. Some floods can recede quickly, but others may take several weeks or months to drain completely- especially if it continues to rain after the initial flood. There is no way to know if a flood is about to occur, so being prepared is essential.

Preparing for a Flood

Floods are unpredictable and the destruction can be severe. If you want to lower the risk of damage, there are numerous steps you can take to practice caution. Keep an emergency kit and flood emergency plan in an easily accessible area. If you have the space, store bottled water, and canned food in a dry area. If you have important documents or family mementos, consider keeping those in a waterproof safe or safety deposit box. Lastly, be prepared to leave at all times. The best option is to have a go-bag prepared. We recommend packing clothes, basic hygiene products, non-perishable food items, and water. However, it is equally effective to have a set plan for what you would grab during a flood. Remember: flash floods occur quickly, but with a general flood you have a bit more wiggle-room.

What to do during a flood

During a flood, it’s important to remain calm. Flash flood safety is equally important, but general flood safety is a bit different. Since general floods form slower than flash floods, you have more time to respond and make smart decisions. Do not walk, swim, or drive through waters. If you see barricades, turn around immediately. If you are stuck inside of a house and flood waters continue to rise, go to the highest floor. Do not go into an attic, as rising waters can leave you trapped. If you do not have a second floor, go onto the roof. This will also make you easily spottable by emergency personnel.

Tornado Safety

In 1933, Davidson County was victim to an F3 tornado. Winds during F3 tornadoes can range from 159-206 mph. This tornado grew from 200 to 400 yards, destroying everything in its 3-mile path. Tennessee has seen its fair share of tornadoes. Did you know in 1988 thirteen tornadoes hit middle Tennessee in a single day? Tornadoes are unpredictable and can destroy your home in seconds. Understanding what causes a tornado, how to prepare, and what to do during a tornado is essential to protecting your home and family.

What causes a tornado?

Tornadoes are formed when warm, moist air mixes with cool, dry air. This creates instability in the atmosphere and winds work together to form a funnel cloud. Tornadoes can form during any time of year but are most common in Tennessee from March through May. Tornadoes are most common in Tornado Alley (Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, and Louisiana). Tennessee is technically not in Tornado Alley but is still considered a tornado common area.

Preparing for a tornado

Tornadoes can happen anytime and anywhere. It’s important to always be prepared for tornados no matter where you are. Have a tornado action plan for your most visited places (home, work, etc.). During severe weather, pay close attention to your news sources, they will let you know if a tornado warning or watch is taking place. A tornado watch means the weather is favorable and a tornado warning means a funnel cloud has been spotted.

What to do during a tornado

If you are caught during a tornado, stay calm but act fast. If you are inside a building, go to the lowest level and innermost rooms. Cover yourself with blankets or place furniture around you. Keep a radio close by to listen to the news or weather stations. If you are driving and see a tornado, do not try to outrun it. Your car cannot exceed the speed of a tornado and the tornado can change direction any given second. Leave your car immediately and look for a small ditch. Make yourself as flat as possible and put your hands over your neck and head. Do not hide underneath an overpass or bridge. A tornado can destroy bridges without hesitation and falling concrete can cause severe injuries or even death.

Earthquake Safety

Tennessee borders the New Madrid Seismic Zone. What does this mean? Tennessee is at risk for a severe earthquake. This seismic zone has produced the largest four earthquakes in US history. Scientists predict there is a 20-30 percent chance of an earthquake causing significant damage in Tennessee within the next 10 years. When it comes to earthquakes, it can be important to expect the unexpected by preparing and knowing what to do if one occurs.

What causes an earthquake?

Deep below us, tectonic plates are always moving. Sometimes the friction is so strong the edges of these plates get stuck. The release of this tension is what we feel as an earthquake. Thankfully, scientists are able to track earthquakes and can be so minor we don’t even feel it. All of this information is being used to better understand the ground beneath us and earthquakes as a whole.

Preparing for an earthquake

Your house may look secure, but you may never know the weaknesses your house had until after the damage already occurred. Accessing and updating any structural issues within your home can help lower the risk of damage. Common examples include foundation issues or weak crawl spaces. While the structure is important, so are the contents inside of your home. Heavy or expensive objects should be mounted appropriately. This helps lower the chance of damage to your home and the chance of items falling on you. Objects to keep in mind are water heaters, bookcases, and anything hanging on the walls or ceilings. It is also important to identify the safest places to take cover in each room. Lastly, always have an emergency supply kit in a safe, easily accessible location.

What to do during an earthquake

If you are inside a building, take cover in the predetermined space as discussed. Drop, cover, and hold on! If there is a sturdy table or desk nearby, take cover under that. By staying on your knees and bending over, you are protecting your vital organs and keeping yourself from losing balance. Once an earthquake is over, remain in this position – aftershocks can occur seconds or minutes later. If you are in a vehicle, stop in an area that is far from buildings, trees, over/underpasses and power lines.

Protect your home and family

Natural disasters can form fast and without warning. Purchasing home and auto insurance is a small price to pay for peace-of-mind. In 2017, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that natural disasters caused over 306 billion dollars in damage. If you are interested in exploring coverage options that are specific for your needs, fill out this form or contact us at 615-964-5250 to speak with a top agent!


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