Aid sought after more flooding
Posted: Friday, August 27, 2010 8:59 pm
By KRISTIN M. HALL
Associated Press Writer
NASHVILLE (AP) — State and local officials who are drafting a damage assessment from last week’s flash flooding in Tennessee hope to reach a $7.3 million statewide threshold to apply for federal aid, the governor says.
Gov. Phil Bredesen met Thursday with state lawmakers and emergency management officials about the damage from the sudden, drenching rains and said he hopes the assessment will allow him to request a presidential disaster declaration.
Teams this week began examining damage to private property and public infrastructure and will complete those visits next week, said Tennessee Emergency Management Agency director Jim Bassham.
Bassham said he doesn’t know yet whether the damage total is high enough to apply for federal aid.
In order to get federal aid, each of the affected counties has to show a certain level of damage based on population as well as the state, which in this case amounts to about $7.3 million statewide in damages.
The teams are visiting Jackson, Overton, Putnam, Clay, Hardin, Macon, Cocke, Smith and Wayne counties looking for damage.
Bredesen said five counties have met their local requirement, but “where we are short is the total size of the event in the state.”
Roads and bridges washed away or were damaged in the flooding and the heavy rains stranded people in cars and filled homes and businesses with mud and water. The damage is not nearly as bad as historic flooding in early May that affected a wide swath of Tennessee, including some of the same areas affected this month. The flooding in May caused more than $2 billion in damage in Nashville alone and killed 22 people.
Rep. Henry Fincher of Cookeville said he’s seen the damage firsthand and he’s doing everything he can to secure assistance for local governments and residents as they clean up.
“I’ve sat on many a front porch and wept with the homeowner over what they’ve lost over the last few days and my heart goes out to the affected families,” he said.
Rep. Leslie Winningham of Huntsville said there has been a lot of damage to farmland and crops that can take years to recoup. He and state Sen. Charlotte Burks of Monterey toured some of the damage in Jackson County on Thursday.
Burks urged residents affected by the flooding to report all and any damage. She said she saw in Jackson County where there was nothing left but the remnants of a home’s foundation.
“You see pieces and parts of these people’s lives hanging in the trees,” she said.
Bredesen praised the efforts of emergency workers and local governments in their response to the flooding. Several people were rescued from their homes and cars in high waters, but no one was killed.
Published in The Messenger 8.27.10