Governor requests more federal aid for Tennessee

From Staff Reports

   NASHVILLE -- Gov. Phil Bredesen on Tuesday asked the president to qualify another 25 Tennessee counties as eligible to receive federal disaster assistance following more than a week of severe weather. In addition, the governor requested expanded relief for seven counties included in last week's Presidential Declaration.
   Bredesen is seeking two types of federal assistance. Individual Assistance (IA) provides financial aid to individuals, families and businesses to cover uninsured losses. Public assistance (PA) provides funds to local and state jurisdictions and some not-for-profit and quasi-governmental entities, such as utility companies.
   He requests that 16 new counties be made eligible for IA -- Bedford, Bledsoe, Bradley, Coffee, Davidson, Hamilton, Lincoln, Marshall, Maury, Monroe, Rhea, Rutherford, Sequatchie, Warren, Wayne and Wilson.
   He is asking that three new counties be made eligible for PA -- Benton, Lawrence and Perry. He also asks that seven new counties be made eligible for both IA and PA -- Cannon, DeKalb, Marion, McMinn, Meigs, Polk and Williamson.
   In addition, he asked that seven counties that were made eligible for IA last week also be made eligible to receive PA -- Carroll, Dickson, Haywood, Henderson, Henry, Lauderdale and Stewart.
   In all, this would bring the total number of Tennessee counties eligible for federal assistance to 46 (18 PA and IA, 3 PA only, and 25 IA only).
   "With damage in well over half of Tennessee's 95 counties, the damage assessment has been a monumental task," Bredesen said. "I'm hopeful the federal government will grant this additional request, however, so that we can help people begin the task of rebuilding."
   Severe storms rolled across Tennessee for a period of several days beginning May 4. To date, thunderstorms, tornadoes, hail and floods have claimed 17 lives and damaged or destroyed more than 5,000 homes and businesses. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is estimating total statewide losses over $1 billion.
   Because of the scope of the damage and the ongoing nature of the severe weather, Bredesen last week sought and was granted federal assistance for an initial 20 counties with the understanding that more would be added as damage assessments were completed.
   Ten joint federal, state and local assessment teams continue their work around the state. As they are able to make additional qualifications, the governor will submit new requests.
   The request made Tuesday also includes hazard mitigation assistance, which provides funds for preventive steps against future disasters.