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Nashville Dems urge Gov. Lee to issue disaster declaration after flooding

AM AARON PUSH FOR DISASTER DECLARATION VO_frame_53.jpeg
Posted at 11:04 AM, Mar 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-30 14:41:03-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF)  — This weekend’s flooding event caused major damage across the mid-state. Now, Nashville’s Democratic Senators are urging Gov. Bill Lee’s office to move quickly with a disaster declaration.

Tennessee Democrats say as the waters recede and the hard work of recovery begins, they want to ensure people in these affected areas receive the care and support they need to restore their communities. The mayors of Nashville, Franklin and Brentwood have already declared a local state of emergency.

“A great many of our citizens are hurting right now from the deadly flooding that hit Middle Tennessee. We are grateful to report that the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency is working with local officials to assess the damage. As the waters recede and the hard work of recovery begins, we want to ensure people in these affected areas receive the care and support they need to restore their communities. Gov. Lee’s office is an important partner in this work and we appreciate his swift consideration of a disaster declaration," according to a statement co-signed by Senators Heidi Campbell, Brenda Gilmore and Jeff Yarbro.

Tennessee is already under a state of emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic.

There are four types of disaster assistance, two of which must be requested through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, also known as (FEMA), one which must be requested through the U.S. Small Business Administration and one is an option which may be invoked by FEMA due to significant impact.

Here's how the process works:

Once a disaster strikes, the emergency center is activated. TEMA responds to the disaster, then they work with the counties to receive damage reports (ridges, roads and utilities). TEMA then looks at those numbers to see if they surpass the threshold -- if it looks like those thresholds are surpassed -- then FEMA is requested to come in and look at the data to see if the governor can ask the federal government for assistance.

The complete damage assessments have been conducted within each county and are currently in the process of being reviewed/underway.

Editor's note: A previous version of this story said, "if Governor Lee issued a disaster declaration, it would make more resources available to those impacted by flood waters." However, TEMA says receiving a federal disaster declaration does not hinge on the governor declaring a disaster.