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Flooding in Tennessee

The May 2010 flood damaged and forced the temporary or permanent closings of 2,773 businesses, which affected at least 14,499 employees and cost at least $3.6 billion in annual revenue. In 36 hours, an average of 14 to 15 inches of rain fell over much of Tennessee. Some areas received 20 inches.

"As many as 40% of small businesses do not reopen after a major like a flood, tornado or earthquake. These shuttered businesses were unprepared for a disaster; they had no plan or backup system." (American Red Cross)

Floods are the most common and widespread of all natural disasters. According to NOAA, flash flooding is the leading cause of weather-related deaths in the U.S. According to FEMA; flash floods and floods happen in all 50 states. Everyone lives in a flood zone.

The Department of Homeland Security says that flood damages can be difficult to predict and are heavily influenced by local terrain and urbanized developments; and past history does not necessarily predict future event outcomes.

Before Katrina, hundreds of thousands of businesses from Florida and the Gulf Coast to the Appalachian Mountains went more than a week without power. Some went weeks before power was restored. This was all the result of Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne. These were the four hurricanes that struck the Southern and Southeast United States. Tens of thousands of buildings were damaged or destroyed by flooding. Roads were washed out and scores of lives were lost.

Katrina destroyed 60 percent of New Orleans' small businesses, according to a study the Institute for Southern Studies, leaving a gap in the city's recovery efforts. Mary Lynn Wikerson, director of the Louisiana Small Business Development Centers says that 110,000 businesses in Louisiana were destroyed or severely impacted by Katrina and Rita. Around 18,700 have closed permanently since the storms.

We have yet to see what will be the final result on businesses from the flooding in Tennessee. Disasters are going to happen. The business owner cannot predict the time or the place a disaster will take place, whether it is a natural or man-made disaster.

"Every year emergencies take their toll on business and industry – in lives and dollars. But something can be done. Business and industry can limit injuries and damages and return more quickly to normal operations if they plan ahead. Whether you operate from a high-rise building or an industrial complex; whether you own, rent or lease your property; whether you are a large or small company you must prepare." (FEMA Publication 141)