Governor Phil Bredesen has asked President Obama to declare 52 Tennessee counties, including DeKalb as federal disaster areas following the severe storms, tornadoes and flooding that struck the state beginning Friday, April 30.
Should this initial request for assistance be granted, the following Tennessee counties would have access to varying levels of federal assistance programs: Anderson, Bedford, Benton, Cannon, Carroll, Cheatham, Chester, Clay, Crockett, Davidson, Decatur, DeKalb, Dickson, Dyer, Fayette, Gibson, Giles, Hardeman, Hardin, Haywood, Henderson, Henry, Hickman, Houston, Humphreys, Jackson, Lake, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Lewis, Macon, Madison, Maury, McNairy, Montgomery, Morgan, Obion, Perry, Robertson, Rutherford, Shelby, Smith, Stewart, Sumner, Tipton, Trousdale, Van Buren, Wayne, Weakley, White, Williamson and Wilson.
"The swift reaction from emergency first responders was exemplary during this emergency situation," said Bredesen. "I want to thank local and state agencies that responded so quickly to evacuate, perform water rescues and assess any immediate damage and danger to the roadways."
As a result of the extreme weather conditions, Tennessee suffered 14 confirmed fatalities. Numerous nursing homes, apartment complexes and residences were evacuated due to rapidly rising waters and flash flooding. In addition, several water rescues and helicopter extractions were performed as flood waters continue to rush over hundreds of roads through cities, towns and neighborhoods. Many residents lost all of their possessions as their homes were destroyed or sustained major damages. Currently, there are 24 shelters open statewide housing 1,282 people.
"As we turn toward recovery, my thoughts and prayers continue to be with all of those who lost loved ones or have been affected by this disaster," said Bredesen. "I commend Tennesseans on the resiliency of their communities and their unshakable compassion to lend a helping hand. We face many obstacles and challenges in the days to come, but I am reassured to see that we are united in our efforts to help those in need."
The state of Tennessee is requesting joint FEMA-State Preliminary Damage Assessments be conducted as soon as waters have receded enough to make reasonable determinations. The start date is projected for Monday, May 10, 2010.
Public Assistance will also be requested in all categories, including Individual Assistance – Individuals and Households Program (IHP); Disaster Unemployment Assistance; Crisis Counseling; Disaster Food Stamp Program; American Bar Association Young Lawyers Legal Aid; and Small Business Administration disaster loans.
"The state's current budget circumstance is severe and unprecedented," said Bredesen. "I am requesting 100 percent Federal assistance for the first 72 hours. Any aid received will assist with work and services to save lives and protect property."
The Department of Military/Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, Department of Environment & Conservation, Department of Health, Department of Human Services, Department of Transportation, Department of Safety, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and Civil Air Patrol responded and provided emergency protective services to supplement local efforts.
Additional information about state and federal assistance for affected counties will be released as details become available.
For more updates regarding the state's response, visit the TEMA website at www.tnema.org.