Washington, DC -- Federal disaster funds were made available today to help communities in 14 Tennessee counties recover from the effects of spring storms and other extreme weather that struck the state late last month, according to the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
FEMA Director James Lee Witt said the aid was authorized under a major disaster declaration issued for the state by President Clinton late this afternoon. The declaration covers damage to public property from severe storms, tornadoes and flooding that occurred over the period of May 23-31.
Immediately after the President's action, Witt designated the following counties eligible for federal funds to supplement the recovery needs of affected local governments: Anderson, Benton, Cheatham, Davidson, Henry, Hickman, Houston, Jackson, Knox, Lake, Obion, Perry, Pickett and Stewart.
Under the declaration, Witt said the federal government will pay 75 per cent of the approved costs for debris removal, emergency services related to the disaster, and repairing or replacing damaged public facilities. Federal funds also will be available to the state on a cost-shared basis for approved projects that reduce future disaster risks.
Witt indicated that additional counties may be designated for assistance later if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments. He named Charles M. Butler of FEMA to coordinate the federal relief effort.
Butler said that procedures for requesting assistance will be explained at a series of applicant briefings at locations to be announced shortly in the affected areas.