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56 Tennessee counties receive disaster declaration

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The federal government has issued a Major Disaster Declaration at the request of Gov. Bill Lee to make federal recovery assistance available to 56 Tennessee county jurisdictions impacted by February’s flooding and severe storms.

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

The counties included in the declaration include: 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-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 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 live and property from natural hazards.

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

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

The February storms caused more than $80 million in damages to the state’s transportation network. The Tennessee Department of Transportation 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 in a news release. “These FEMA programs will assist with road and bridge repair while our farmers continue cleaning debris, repairing structures, and adjusting their planting times.”

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