NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee is asking President Donald Trump's administration to make federal assistance available for government efforts to address recent flooding and storms, citing a $151.3 million impact through local and state emergency responses, and infrastructure and road damage.
A news release says Lee is seeking a major disaster declaration in 58 counties, asking the Federal Emergency Management Agency to make the Public Assistance program available to them.
Lee's administration says 83 of Tennessee's 95 counties have reported some level of damage and impact from flooding and severe weather that started on Feb. 6.
Qualifying damage for counties, cities, state agencies and utility infrastructure totaled $68.3 million. Officials estimate $83 million-plus of damage was done to the state's highway system, with 20 emergency contracts worth $56 million already initiated.
Additionally, members of Tennessee's congress have written the president a letter in support of the governor's request. The letter was signed by U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander and Marsha Blackburn and Representatives Tim Burchett, Steve Cohen, Jim Cooper, Scott DesJarlais, Chuck Fleischmann, Mark Green, David Kustoff, Phil Roe and John Rose.
The letter is as follows:
“On behalf of the State of Tennessee, we are writing to support Governor Bill Lee’s request to declare a major disaster pursuant to the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief Act as a result of the flooding and severe storms that impacted our state beginning on February 6, 2019. ...We thank you for your Administration’s ongoing response, specifically the Federal Highway Administration making $10 million immediately available to help repair roads damaged by flood and landslides. However, the severe storms that swept across the State of Tennessee beginning on February 6th brought severe storms and flooding that cost the state over $151 million. Federal Emergency Management Agency and State joint Preliminary Damage Assessments in affected counties for both Public and Individual Assistance occurred between March 7, 2019 and March 21, 2019.”