The federal government granted Gov. Bill Lee’s request this week for a major disaster declaration for 20 Tennessee counties impacted by severe weather in early May.
President Donald Trump announced in a Thursday press release that he approved the declaration, which will make federal funding available for state and local recovery efforts in the affected areas.
Counties covered by the declaration include Benton, Carroll, Davidson, Decatur, Dickson, Dyer, Hardin, Henderson, Henry, Hickman, Houston, Humphreys, Lake, Lawrence, Lewis, Madison, Maury, Obion, Perry, and Weakley.
Lee’s office said the 20 counties reported a combined $14 million in damage to structures and utilities. In the Nashville metropolitan area, winds between 60 and 80 mph caused power outages for more than 130,000 customers – the worst power outage on record for the city.
“The devastating severe weather required a comprehensive response and stretched many local jurisdictions to their resource limits,” Lee said in a statement. “We are committed to supporting these communities and providing the necessary resources to assist their recovery efforts.”
He said the estimated damage also includes costs incurred for emergency work performed after the storms, such as debris removal and power restoration.
The major disaster declaration will allow government entities and certain private non-profits in the counties to apply for reimbursement of specific expenses related to the disaster under the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Public Assistance program.
The federal declaration also makes Tennessee eligible for the federal Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which provides assistance to communities to prevent or reduce long-term risks to life and property from natural hazards.
“Tennessee has faced an unprecedented year of natural disasters and we are thankful for the generous support from POTUS, FEMA’s work on the ground, and our federal delegation’s continued advocacy,” Lee wrote on Twitter.
Tennessee has faced an unprecedented year of natural disasters and we are thankful for the generous support from @POTUS, @fema's work on the ground and our federal delegation's continuous advocacy.https://t.co/Npa6TGSMDh
— Gov. Bill Lee (@GovBillLee) July 10, 2020
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of The Minnesota Sun and The Ohio Star. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Storm Damage in Tennessee in May 2019” by the American Red Cross of Tennessee.