Governor Bill Haslam has requested President Barack Obama to declare four Tennessee counties federal disaster areas, after severe storms and tornadoes ravaged the state last Wednesday.
The request was made for Bradley, Greene, Hamilton, and Washington counties, where 34 people were killed and more than 500 homes were destroyed or severely damaged.
If the president grants the governor's petition, the four counties would have access to varying levels of federal assistance programs, enabling them to obtain public assistance for debris removal, emergency protective action, and individual assistance.
In a press release, Haslam said that he was confident of the federal government's ability to help expedite the work of helping people rebuilding their lives as quickly as possible. As a more complete assessment of the damage is made, the governor's office said that other counties could be expected to be added to the request.
Among the programs that would be available are the Individuals and Households Program (IHP), Disaster Unemployment Assistance, Crisis Counseling, the Disaster Food Stamp Program, American Bar Association Young Lawyers Legal Aid, and Small Business Administration Disaster loans.
Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, who represents Tennessee's third district, showed his solidarity with Haslam by signing a letter of support, along with the rest of the state's congressional delegation.
In a press release, Fleischmann said that it was urgent for the requested counties to continue receiving the resources and supplies they needed quickly, and noted that it was the president who could ensure it would happen.