Floodplain Management


Areas of McMinnville are subject to periodic inundation of flood waters which could result in loss of life and property, health and safety hazards, disruption of commerce and governmental services, extraordinary public expenditures for flood protection and relief, and impairment of the tax base, all of which adversely affect the public health, safety and general welfare.  Some of these flood losses are caused by the cumulative effect of obstructions in floodplains, causing increases in flood heights and velocities; by placing uses in areas vulnerable to floods; or constructing buildings that are inadequately elevated, flood-proofed, or otherwise unprotected from flooding.   

The State of Tennessee General Assembly has Title, 13, Chapter 7, Sections 13-7-201 through 13-7-210, Tennessee Code Annotated, delegated the responsibility to local governments to adopt regulations designed to promote the public health, safety, and general welfare of its citizenry.  The City of McMinnville has adopted regulations to manage construction in flood zones including limits on constructing improvements to a property, excavating, or placing earthen fill.    
See McMinnville Zoning Ordinance Appendix A Title 14 Chapter 8 for more information on regarding flood zone requirements.  

TDEC Floodplain Management Quick Guide
Floodplain Development Permit

A Floodplain Development Permit is required prior to the issuance of a building permit or any other development activity in a lot or parcel located within a designated Flood Hazard Area.  Application for a Floodplain Development Permit shall be made to the City Planner on forms furnished by the Planning Department.  Additional  documents may be required such as, plans in duplicate drawn to scale, showing the nature, location, dimensions, and elevations of the area in question; existing or proposed structures, earthen fill, storage of materials or equipment, drainage facilities.  In some cases, before a Floodplain Development Permit can be issued a floodplain study and/or an Elevation Certificate may be required.  
Elevation Certificate

An Elevation Certificate may be required prior to or during the construction stage.  For all new construction and substantial improvements located within or in close proximity to a flood hazard area, the permit holder shall provide to the City Planner an Elevation Certificate, possibly at various stages, of the regulatory floor elevation or flood-proofing level upon the completion of the lowest floor in accordance with the City's floodplain regulations or flood-proofing.  

** Always check on the floodplain status of your property before applying for a building permit or purchasing property.  FEMA Flood Map Service Center

Be Prepared

What should you do before a flood?

- Determine if your property is located in an area subject to flooding.

Property located in close proximity to the Barren Fork River are areas where flooding is likely.

A property located within a flood zone may not necessarily have flooding problems but your property may still be within a flood zone, as designated by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) maps.  Upon request, the Community Development Department - Floodplain Manager at (931) 473-1204, will make free flood zone determinations for properties within the City.  FEMA maps are also available on-line.  If located in an “AE” Zone, your property is within the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), which is an area that has been determined to have the potential for flooding caused by a 100-year storm.  If located in a “A” Zone, your property is also within the SFHA and could also be subject to substantial flooding.  The Community Development Department also maintains elevation certificates for many properties within the City which are also available for review.

For a flood risk profile of your property by address, visit www.floodsmart.gov.

- Purchase flood insurance on your property.

Flooding is not covered by a standard homeowner’s insurance policy. A separate flood insurance policy is required to cover damages incurred by flooding.  Coverage is available for the building itself as well as for the contents of the building. The City of McMinnville participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) that makes available federally backed flood insurance for all structures, whether or not they are located within the floodplain.  Note that there is a 30-day waiting period before coverage goes into effect. More than 25 percent of NFIP claims are filed by properties located outside the 100-year floodplain, also known as the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA).  Contact your insurance agency for more information.  Flood insurance information is also available on-line.

- Maintain drainage channels and pipes free of obstruction and debris.

The City of McMinnville performs cleaning and maintenance activities on the drainage channels and pipes in City easements & rights-of-way in accordance with an established schedule and other standard operating procedures. Residents are encouraged to assist in maintaining the drainage in their areas by removing or reporting obstructions (such as shopping carts, leaves, debris, trash, etc.). Keeping drainage channels free of obstructions reduces flooding in the event of heavy rains.  By way of City ordinance, it is illegal to dump trash, leaves, landscape debris, paint, grease, or any other material into any portion of the City’s drainage system.  Such dumping can have devastating impacts on water quality in addition to causing flooding.  To report obstructions or illegal dumping, or for questions regarding drainage system maintenance, please contact the City of McMinnville Public Works Department at (931) 473-2553.

Consider elevating your structure, if possible. Information regarding flood proofing and other mitigation measures are available on-line.  If a flood is imminent, property can be protected by sandbagging areas subject to the entry of water into living spaces.  The City of McMinnville Fire Department may be available to assist with sandbagging efforts.  Valuables and furniture may also be moved to higher areas of the dwelling to minimize damages.  Attaching plywood or specially made panels over windows and patio doors may help protect against high wind damages associated with tornados.  The City of McMinnville will make site visits to provide one-on-one advice to a property owner regarding flooding and drainage issues on private property.  We also have site specific information for some parcels within McMinnville.  For more information, please contact the Community Development Department - Floodplain Manager at (931) 473-1204.

- Meet improvement requirements.

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) requires that if the cost of reconstruction, additions, or other improvements to a building equals or exceeds 50% of the building’s market value, then the building must meet the same construction requirements as a new building.  Substantially damaged buildings must also be brought up to the same standards.  For example, a residence damaged so that the cost of repairs equals or exceeds 50% of the building’s value before it was damaged must be elevated above the base flood elevation.  Please contact the Community Development Department - Floodplain Manager at (931) 473-1204 for more information.

- Meet permitting requirements.  

All development within the City of McMinnville requires a permit.  Always check and fulfill permitting requirements with the Community Development Department at (931) 473-1204 before you build on, alter, fill, or re-grade on any portion of your property and/or within any easement or right-of-way.  Also, contact either of the numbers above to report any suspected permitting violations.

- Keep an emergency supply.

Non-perishable food, water, batteries, flashlights, a manual can opener, and a battery-operated radio should be kept available.

What should you do during a flood?

If your property is in imminent danger of flooding, please contact McMinnville Electric System at (931) 473-1204 and Middle Tennessee Natural Gas at (931) 473-8494 to request that your power and natural gas be shut off, or for guidance on how to do it yourself.  This number may also be contacted regarding any other electrical or natural gas emergencies.

Tune-in to local commercial radio or television stations or NOAA Weather Radio for Watch and Warning Bulletins and any corresponding emergency instructions.

The Warren County Emergency Management Agency s will order or advise evacuations if conditions warrant this action.  If evacuations are called for, it is imperative that you follow instructions in the time frame noted.

Questions regarding emergency procedures may be addressed to the Warren County Emergency Management Agency Services at (931) 473-8446.

If dangerous flooding conditions are imminent, avoid driving a vehicle if possible.  Do not attempt to drive or wade through deep pockets of water or running washes.  Unstable banks should be avoided.

-  Develop an evacuation plan for your family.

Avoid low-lying areas.  Seek shelter in the highest areas possible.

What should you do after a flood?

  • Listen to the radio for emergency instructions.
  • Avoid driving if possible.
  • Follow established procedures for property damage repairs:

Select a contractor who is licensed in his trade.  The State of Tennessee requires contractors to be licensed and/or registered.  They will also be able to produce receipts for their licenses. Only licensed electricians may perform electrical work, only licensed plumbers may perform plumbing work, only licensed gas contractors may work on a gas system, only licensed mechanical contractors may perform heating, ventilation and air conditioning work, and only licensed building contractors may perform building related work. Verify that contractors are licensed before signing or agreeing to any repair contracts.   It is also recommended that you verify certification of liability and workman’s compensation insurance.  Complaints against licensed contractors may be referred to the appropriate licensing agency.

Require your contractors to obtain the proper permits for work being performed. Permits are required for any permanent improvement (including painting, roofing, siding, additions, alterations, etc.) to a structure and for site work such as grading, filling, etc.  Permits are required even if a homeowner is doing the work himself.

Questions about permits or contractor licensing may be addressed to the City of McMinnville Community Development Department at (931) 473-1204.

- Recognize the natural and beneficial functions of floodplains to help reduce flooding:

Floodplains are a natural component of the Warren County environment.  Understanding and protecting the natural functions of floodplains helps reduce flood damage and protect resources. When flooding spreads out across the floodplain, its energy is dissipated, which results in lower flood flows downstream, reduced erosion of the erosion, loss of valuable property, increased risk of flooding to downstream properties and degradation of water quality.

 For more information about flood safety or the NFIP, please click on the following links:


FEMA Map Search


 City of McMinnville
Community Development Department
101 East Main St./P.O. Box 7088
McMinnville, TN 37111