In a rare showing of bipartisanship, the entire federal congressional delegation from Tennessee this week signed a letter addressed to President Joe Biden (D) urging him to approve Governor Bill Lee’s (R) request to declare a major disaster emergency.
An early April wildfire tore through 3,700 acres in Sevier County in early April, prompting the request for a federal declaration.
No one was killed by the wildfires, but hundreds of homes and other buildings burned to the ground.
“We write to urge expedient approval of Governor Bill Lee’s request to declare a major disaster pursuant to the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief Act as a result of storm damage and severe wildfires in Sevier County that occurred from March 30, 2022, to April 6, 2022,” the letter reportedly says.
“On March 30, 2022, heavy winds and dry conditions knocked down power lines and ignited several wildfires in Sevier County, Tennessee. The fire threatened homes, roadways, and communications infrastructure and caused widespread power outages,” according to the letter. “Overall, approximately 11,000 homes were evacuated and at least 100 residences were damaged or destroyed. Governor Lee is specifically requesting Individual Assistance for Sevier County and the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program statewide.”
One congressman said Tuesday that he was proud to sign the letter.
“Proud to join [Marsha Blackburn] and the rest of the TN Delegation to urge [President Biden] to quickly approve Gov. Lee’s disaster declaration for Sevier County after wildfires damaged the area. Time is of the essence, and I urge the president to act quickly,” Representative Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN-03) said Tuesday.
Time is of the essence, and I urge the president to act quickly. https://t.co/e3XpBWtkzp
— Chuck Fleischmann (@RepChuck) June 7, 2022
Fleischmann was joined by Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Bill Hagerty (R-TN), and Representatives Diana Harshbarger (R-TN-01), Tim Burchett (R-TN-02), Scott DesJarlais (R-TN-04), Jim Cooper (D-TN-05), John Rose (R-TN-06), Mark Green (R-TN-07), David Kustoff (R-TN-08), and Steve Cohen (D-TN-09), which is the entire federal congressional delegation from the state, in urging action by the Biden administration.
On April 20, Lee declared a state of emergency in the wake of the severe weather.
In that declaration, Lee ordered that fees for certain licensure for structures and automobiles that may have been destroyed by the fire, like license plates and driver’s licenses, be waived.
He also directed the state’s Commissioner of Commerce and Insurance to ensure that state-licensed insurance providers prioritize claims made by those affected by the fires.
_ _ _