Flood waters cover River Ford Road (louisville)

Floodwaters cover River Ford Road near Tuckaleechee Pike April after heavy rains. Data from the First Street Foundation published Monday shows 6,143 more Blount properties may be at risk for flooding than formerly estimated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

A new report on U.S. flooding risk factors shows the town of Louisville has one of the highest proportions of properties in the state that may be vulnerable to flooding.

The First Street Foundation’s 2020 flood risk assessment model was published Monday and shows 40% of Louisville properties — 1,032 total — are at risk for flooding in 2020.

The town is third in Tennessee areas ranked for the greatest proportion of at-risk properties. Kingston ranked second at 41% and Chattanooga ranked first at 42%, according to the report.

However, over the next three decades, the risk for Louisville is expected to only increase by 1%.

First Street’s report broadly concludes that millions more properties are at risk for flooding than previously thought in the U.S.

It compares its own findings with those of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The agency’s risk estimates often are far lower that those First Street published.

For example, of 63,148 properties in Blount County, First Street data shows 7,752 are at risk for flooding. FEMA data only shows 1,609, a difference of nearly 382%. That number increases by more than 300 properties come 2035.

First Street’s conclusion about the nationwide flood risk in an article published Monday was that “5.9 million properties and property owners are currently unaware of or underestimating the risk they face.”

The reason for this discrepancy is that First Street Foundation used current climate data, mapped precipitation as a stand-alone risk and included areas that FEMA has not mapped, the report explained.

In Tennessee alone, the report shows 281,800 properties more than what FEMA has reported are currently “at substantial risk.”

That’s 3.8 times the number of properties FEMA has reported as facing this same level of risk in the state, according to First Street’s data.

Many Louisville properties border Fort Loudoun Lake and smaller bodies of water.

First Street Foundation is a nonprofit research and technology group whose data tool can be found at floodfactor.com. Monday’s publication was the first of its kind.

Follow @arjonesreports on Facebook and Twitter for more from city government reporter Andrew Jones.

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