Bipartisan group of lawmakers eye addressing frequent flooding issues

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Widespread flooding is becoming more common in Tennessee.

Recent flooding has caused damage to homes, businesses, and even costed some residents their lives.

Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill say addressing Tennessee’s flooding is a bipartisan issue, however, getting to a solution soon could be problematic.

According to the Tennessee Department of Health, seven people are dead following storms and flooding in March.

Rep. Mike Stewart, a Nashville Democrat, says the frequency of widespread flooding events deserves scrutiny.

“Fully study the changes in our climate and how as we’re seeing in Nashville what use to be known as a 100-year flood seems to be happening every 15 years,” Stewart said.

He adds Tennessee must meet the infrastructural standards of a changing climate in Nashville and elsewhere in the state.

“Many of those roads have insufficient flood control, many of them don’t have sidewalks where people can get up out of the flood and we need to improve those roads with an eye to the potential that we’re going to have more flooding and people need to be safe,” Stewart said.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson, also a Williamson County resident, says part of the solution is reaching out to federal partners.

“I have received numerous calls as I’m sure some of my colleagues have across the state that’s experienced flooding with the recent rainfall that we had and so I’ve reached out to Congressman Green, Mark Green’s office, as well as Congressman Blackburn’s office to see how we can facilitate some of those conversations.”

Johnson adds that there has been significant progress in responding to flooding events and more could be done.

“I think we do a better job now than maybe we did in the past and the technology is better and I think the mapping is better in regards to that,” Johnson said. “But certainly it involves stakeholders in all levels, local, county, state, and federal.”

However, any effort to move forward on a bipartisan, state-centered response to the increase in flooding-related disaster events could stall in the House as Speaker Cameron Sexton says climate change is a “federal question.”

“We’ll do what we can to protect the homeowners and certainly it’s something that is not really a partisan issue,” Lt. Governor Randy McNally said.

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