Trump approves disaster declaration for Tennessee

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HAMILTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WDEF) — President Trump has declared disaster areas for Tennessee, after flooding rains impacting 83 of 95 counties. However, this federal assistance won’t help individual cases.

President Trump’s declared disaster in 56 counties. The five included from our area are Hamilton, Bledsoe, Rhea, Marion and Sequatchie counties.

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But that FEMA money will only go to state and local governments, as well as some private non-profits.

That leaves the residents on Hunter Road still without aid.

“This is bull crap, pure and simple,” resident Danny Mahaffey said.



After nearly 2 months, the flood victims off Hunter Road are still waiting for help.

President Trump granted Tennessee’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration Wednesday night, but the money trickles down to infrastructure, not individual homes.

“I was feeling pretty optimistic about it, but now I hear that TDOT is sticking their hands in it. Well, what about us up here?” Mahaffey said.

Fifty-six Tennessee counties will be receiving federal aid to repair road, bridges and utilities damaged from February 19 to March 30.

“This is good news, so that we can get those infrastructures back up and running that had sustained significant damage,” said Amy Maxwell of Hamilton County Emergency Management.

That includes areas like Stringers Ridge, Lake Resort Drive and Cash Canyon Road.

But not the homes off Hunter Road. That individual assistance is still being reviewed by FEMA, according to Maxwell.

“We have submitted all the disaster assessment and sent it off to TEMA as soon and as quickly as we could, so that we made sure that those nine homes do get on the list for in the event that it does get accepted for assistance,” Maxwell said.

But the Hunter Road residents are still not happy with the county’s response.

“Nobody’s asking for any handouts. We’re just trying to figure out where our tax money’s going,” Mahaffey said.

Despite the individual troubles on Hunter Road, Maxwell says the county is happy with the quick response from Washington.

“We knew we were going to get some federal funding but it’s just we didn’t know that it would happen so quickly. We were very pleased to know that we got the notification as quickly as we did,” Maxwell said.

Tennessee reported $80 million worth of damage across the state.

There’s no word yet on how much or when Tennessee will receive this federal aid. Once the state gets its allocated money, TEMA will then distribute funds to the affected counties.

Senator Lamar Alexander and Congressman Chuck Fleischmann thanked President Trump for the swift declaration. They both released statements saying this federal aid will help Tennessee recover and rebuild.

For the full details on the federal government granting Major Disaster Declaration, click here, or read TEMA’s full release below:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced today the federal government has granted his request for Major Disaster Declaration to make federal recovery assistance available to 56 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,” Gov. 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 Gov. Lee’s initial request to provide assistance in five Tennessee counties – Decatur, Hardin, Humphreys, Perry, and Sevier – through the Individual Assistance (IA) program.

Gov. 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.”