Nashville Pays Flood-Prone Homeowners to Move

The city of Nashville sits on an enormous and ancient flood plain. The soil, while rich and nourishing for trees and flowers, is also undermined with clay hard pan, so when the rains descend the water has nowhere to go and begins to pool up in a matter of minutes. For residents on higher ground, this has never been a problem; but for those lower down on the floodplain, where housing has been built since the 1920’s, it means that nowadays they can expect a flooding event about every five years.

Memphis authorities, rather than argue over whether the abundant rain and flooding is caused by global warming or not, have decided instead to fund the evacuation of the most serious flooding risk areas in town. Homeowners in those areas are being offered current market prices for their homes, which are then boarded up and are awaiting the bulldozer. In their place will be public parks and wildlife areas.

The problem now is that while many homeowners have accepted the city’s offer to take the money and run to higher ground, funds for turning the abandoned homesteads into parkland have hit a funding snag. In a word, Nashville has run out of money to do anything at all to the abandoned homes. They now sit decaying and flooding, and the building materials are decomposing and contaminating the surrounding area.

One city council member, speaking anonymously, summed it up by saying: “I guess no good deed ever goes unpunished.”

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