A Nashville woman pursues relief from flooded home

Sunday, December 5, 2010 at 9:05pm
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Kristi Riggan (Jude Ferrara/SouthComm) 

Kristi Riggan bought a modest home in west Nashville in 1997, ready to put down roots. But when the rampaging May flood engorged Richland Creek, its raging waters ripped through those roots — entrenched for 13 years — as if they had never been planted.

With her Delray Drive abode and its contents obliterated, Riggan maintains a positive karma. She is temporarily living in Lebanon and commuting to her job in Nashville, determined to forge ahead in the aftermath of a life-altering event. 

Helping cure some of Riggan’s woe is the Federal Emergency Management Agency-funded Hazard Mitigation Home Buyout program, through which the displaced woman and some of her Richland Meadows neighbors will sell their properties to recoup losses. Homes will not be rebuilt in the area, which is prone to flooding.

“I think it is a good thing to keep homes from being flooded again in the future,” Riggan said. 

Eighty-eight homeowners on Delray Drive and also on West Hamilton Road in north Nashville make up the first group in the Metro Council-approved program, funded by roughly $7 million from FEMA and another $3 million split between Metro and the state. Metro Water Services officials will soon begin making offers on the properties. At this point, 81 homeowners have said they’ll take the buyout, meaning the government is paying about $129,500 per house. 

Metro water spokeswoman Sonia Harvat said since 2002, the department has purchased 54 homes in an ongoing effort to get people out of the city’s dangerous floodway areas. 

As to her future, Riggan said she does not plan to return to west Nashville.

“We moved there when I was 4, and I’ve been there most of my life,” she said. “I bought the small house on Delray so I could put my son in private school. He graduated from Donelson Christian Academy in 2007.” 

Three years after her son faced the next chapter of his life, Riggan was forced to do likewise with hers. The buyout effort has required modest time and patience compared with the flood. “It was a traumatic experience I’ll never forget,” she said.

William Williams