Washington, DC -- The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced today that President Bush has declared a major disaster for Tennessee, opening the way for the use of federal disaster funds to help meet the recovery needs of people and communities plagued by recent storms and floods.
FEMA Director Joe M. Allbaugh said the President took the action following a review of the agency's analysis of the state's request for federal assistance. The declaration covers damage to private and public property from severe storms and flooding that occurred over the periods of January 23-28 and March 15-20.
After the declaration, Allbaugh designated the following counties eligible for aid to stricken residents and business owners: Bledsoe, Blount, Claiborne, Cocke, Hancock, Hawkins, Loudon and Sevier.
The assistance, to be coordinated by FEMA, can include grants to help pay for temporary housing, emergency home repairs and other serious disaster?related expenses. Low?interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration also will be available to cover residential and business losses not fully compensated by insurance.
In addition, Allbaugh said federal funds will be provided for the state and affected local governments to pay 75 percent of the eligible cost for debris removal, emergency services related to the disaster, and repairing or replacing damaged public facilities, such as roads, bridges and utilities.
The counties eligible for this assistance include Bledsoe, Blount, Cannon, Claiborne, Clay, Cocke, Cumberland, Decatur, Dekalb, Fentress, Giles, Grainger, Hancock, Hardin, Hawkins, Jackson, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Lewis, Lincoln, Loudon, McNairy, Macon, Marshall, Maury, Meigs, Roane, Scott, Sevier, Van Buren, Warren and Wayne.
Allbaugh said the declaration also makes federal funds available to the state on a cost-shared basis for approved projects that reduce future disaster risks. He indicated that additional counties may be designated for aid later if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.
Charles M. Butler of FEMA was named by Allbaugh to coordinate the federal assistance. Butler said those who sustained losses in the counties designated for aid to affected residents and business owners can begin the disaster application process by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll?free telephone numbers will be available starting Saturday, April 6, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.