NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Gov. Phil Bredesen has asked President Bush to declare 21 counties federal disaster areas following storms that ravaged the state Tuesday.
If the request is granted, residents would have access to varying levels of federal assistance.
On Wednesday, he made an aerial tour of Macon, Sumner, and Trousdale counties. He stopped in Lafayette, which is in Macon County, one of the state's hardest hit areas. Fourteen of the state's storm-related fatalities occurred in Macon County.
There are now 33 people dead in Tennessee and more than 189 people hurt. The trail of destruction extended from Shelby County to Macon County.
"Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with everyone who has been affected, particularly those who lost loved ones and suffered injuries," Bredesen said.
On Thursday, he toured Madison, Shelby and Sumner counties.
He visited Union University, a Southern Baptist university in Jackson heavily damaged. Students and rescue crews helped retrieve individuals trapped and hurt in the storm.
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff joined Bredesen on an aerial tour.
In Sumner County, seven people died. In Castalian Springs, cleanup crews and volunteers spent countless hours removing debris and salvaging usable items. The storms damaged dozens of homes and several major buildings including the post office and a historic log inn.
The 21 counties included in the disaster declaration request are: Benton, Fayette, Fentress, Gibson, Hardin, Haywood, Henry, Hickman, Houston, Lewis, Macon, Madison, McNairy, Montgomery, Perry, Shelby, Sumner, Tipton, Trousdale, Wayne and Williamson.
"We learned in the aftermath of the storms of 2006 and the tornado that struck downtown Nashville when I was mayor that Tennesseans are strong and resilient, and they truly know what it means to help a neighbor in need. As we call on the spirit of community that has always pulled Tennessee through these tragedies, we will focus our efforts on helping the people impacted rebuild and re-establish a sense of normalcy in their lives."