Main: Disaster Relief
Bredesen seeks federal aid to help recover damages from Ivan

By Abby Morris-Frye
star staff
amorris@starhq.com

  Governor Phil Bredesen issued a request to President George W. Bush on Tuesday asking that the president declare several counties in East Tennessee -- including Carter County -- as disaster areas as a result of damages sustained when the remnants of Hurricane Ivan passed through the region earlier this month.
  Should the request for assistance from Bredesen be granted, residents in 16 East Tennessee counties would have access to varying levels of federal assistance.
  "With the amount of damage caused in East Tennessee as a result of flooding from Hurricane Ivan and other recent storms, I felt it necessary to request federal assistance for a number of Tennessee counties today," Bredesen said on Tuesday. "I hope we can provide some greatly needed relief for the eastern part of the state soon."
  In addition to Carter County, Bredesen has requested that the following East Tennessee counties be declared eligible for federal assistance to repair damage to public property and infrastructure: Campbell, Clay, Cocke, Cumberland, Grundy, Hamilton, Jackson, Johnson, Meigs, Polk, Rhea and Roane. Bredesen also requested that Bradley, Cocke and Rhea Counties be declared eligible for aid to individuals who suffered uninsured damage to private property, known as "individual assistance."
  Flooding in East Tennessee as a result of the remnants of Hurricane Ivan began late on Thursday, Sept. 16, when more than a foot of rain fell through the region. On Sept. 20, Bredesen asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to join state and local officials in conducting a preliminary damage assessment in those counties. He said assessment was completed on Sept. 24. Bredesen's request that East Tennessee be declared a disaster area is based on the results of that preliminary damage assessment, according to information released by the governor's office on Tuesday.
  Portions of Carter County were hammered by rainfall and flooding as the remnants of Hurricane Ivan passed through the Northeast Tennessee area on the morning of Sept. 17. The rains rolled into Carter County early that morning, but by evening flood waters were already receding and the last of the rain was falling.
  Roan Mountain, Elk Mills and Poga were the hardest hit portions of the county according to Elizabethton/Carter County Emergency Management Agency Director Ernest Jackson.
  In all three areas, water swept over roads and bridges leaving some residents stranded and others evacuating.
  In Roan Mountain, the Doe River erupted out of its banks, flowing over roads and bridges alike, leaving some areas completely impassible with piles of tree limbs and other debris left in its wake.
  In the Cove Creek area of Roan Mountain, some trees were toppled by wind and minor mudslides blocked some roadways.
  Elk Mills also experienced a lot of damage as the normally tranquil Elk River turned savage. Waters from the river rushed over the river banks and flooded some roads while destroying others.
  The Elk Mills Community Park was lost in the rapids of the river on Friday as swift water engulfed some playground equipment while washing away other equipment and nearly covering a picnic shelter completely.
  Atley Brown Road in the Poga community sustained heavy damage due to the raging waters of the Elk River, which washed away large chunks of pavement and one section of the road completely. "We've lost all the road on Atley Brown Road in Poga," Carter County Highway Department Superintendent Jack Perkins said.
  Perkins said he does not yet have an estimate on how much damage has been done to the county's roads and bridges, but he believes it will cost approximately $150,000 to $200,000 to repair the damages.
  Highway Department employees laid a layer of rock where Atley Brown Road once was, Perkins said, in order to build the new road over it. However, work was halted on Tuesday due to the Elk River rising from rains in North Carolina.
  According to officers with the Carter County Sheriff's Department, at least one home in the area was nearly completely submerged by water but no one was injured.