Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced the federal government has granted his request for Major Disaster Declaration to make federal recovery assistance available to Campbell and 55 other county jurisdictions impacted in February’s flooding and severe storms.

“The devastating flooding and severe weather required a comprehensive response and stretched many local jurisdictions to their resource limits,”  Lee said.  “For the counties working to rebuild bridges, roads, utilities, and other infrastructure, this federal assistance will support their recovery efforts.”

The following counties are included in the declaration:  Bedford, Bledsoe, Blount, Campbell, Carter, Cheatham, Claiborne, Clay, Cocke, Coffee, Decatur, Dekalb, Dickson, Dyer, Fentress, Gibson, Giles, Grainger, Greene, Hamblen, Hamilton, Hancock, Hardin, Hawkins, Hickman, Houston, Humphreys, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Knox, Lake, Lauderdale, Lewis, Lincoln, Marion, Marshall, McNairy, Moore, Morgan, Obion, Overton, Perry, Rhea, Roane, Robertson, Scott, Sequatchie, Sevier, Smith, Tipton, Unicoi, Union, Van Buren, Warren, and Wayne.

The major disaster declaration covers the time period of Feb. 19  to March 30, 2019, and will allow government entities and certain private non-profits in the eligible counties to apply for reimbursement of specific expenses related to the disaster under the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Public Assistance (PA) program.

Information about FEMA’s PA program and its eligible reimbursement categories is at:  https://www.fema.gov/public-assistance-local-state-tribal-and-non-profit.

The federal declaration also makes Tennessee eligible for the federal Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, https://www.fema.gov/hazard-mitigation-grant-program, which provides assistance to communities to prevent or reduce long-term risks to life and property from natural hazards.

FEMA is still reviewing  Lee’s initial request to provide assistance in five Tennessee counties – Decatur, Hardin, Humphreys, Perry, and Sevier – through the Individual Assistance (IA) program.

Lee’s initial request also included Anderson and Weakley counties; however, FEMA’s incident time period for the award, which starts on Feb. 19, excludes these two counties from the declaration.

The waves of severe weather that began on Feb. 6, 2019, impacted 83 of Tennessee’s 95 counties inflicting various levels of damage from flooding and heavy rains for more than a month.

On March 8, 2019, Director Patrick Sheehan of the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) requested FEMA conduct joint Preliminary Damage Assessments (PDAs) in Tennessee to quantify the magnitude of flood damage at the county level.

Based on the FEMA joint PDAs, the requested counties demonstrated they had met or surpassed federally-established loss thresholds to qualify for relief through FEMA’s PA program, with qualifying losses for county, municipal, state agency, and utility infrastructure impacts and emergency expenditures totaling $68.3 million.

The February storms caused more than $80 million in damages to the state’s transportation network. The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) has executed more than 50 emergency contracts to repair nearly 300 locations in 73 counties. TDOT has received $10 million in federal disaster relief funds and will work with the Federal Highway Administration for reimbursement for costs related to the storms.

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is coordinating with partners to assist farmers experiencing flooding in low-lying areas and river bottomlands, particularly in West Tennessee.

“Our farmers and foresters rely on their local transportation and utility infrastructures being in good condition,” Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M. said. “These FEMA programs will assist with road and bridge repair while our farmers continue cleaning debris, repairing structures, and adjusting their planting times.”

About the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency: TEMA’s mission is to coordinate preparedness, response and recovery from man-made, natural and technological hazards in a professional and efficient manner in concert with our stakeholders. Follow TEMA on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, and, at www.tn.gov/tema.  (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 04/22/2019-6AM)