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President Trump approves Tennessee disaster declaration following deadly tornado

The declaration now makes federal funding available to affected individuals in Davidson, Putnam, and Wilson Counties.

NASHVILLE, Tenn — President Donald Trump has declared a major disaster exists in Tennessee so federal recovery assistance can be made available to tornado survivors.

The president visited the devastated area on Friday.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee asked the president Thursday to expedite the declaration. 

“Local and state emergency officials and responders, working alongside countless volunteers and non-profit organizations, have worked tirelessly to respond to the needs of their families, communities, and neighborhoods,” Gov. Lee said. “It now becomes necessary for our federal partners to make resources available to supplement our efforts and get Tennessee and those impacted on our way to recovery.”

The declaration now makes federal funding available to affected individuals in Davidson, Putnam, and Wilson Counties. 

Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.

Federal funding is also available to State and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work in Davidson, Putnam, and Wilson Counties.

Residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties can begin applying for assistance tomorrow by registering online at DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. local time seven days a week until further notice.

The governor's request specifically asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) to make its Public Assistance (PA) program available in five, impacted counties – Benton, Carroll, Davidson, Gibson, Putnam, and Wilson – to provide reimbursement assistance to the impacted counties for their costs related to debris removal and emergency protective measures during the tornado and severe weather response.

Gov. Lee’s request also asks FEMA to make its Individual Assistance (IA) program available in Davidson, Putnam, and Wilson counties.

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According to the release, if awarded — the IA program would provide some direct federal help to eligible Tennessee residents in the requested counties for disaster-related costs and expenses.

“As FEMA and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) continue joint damage assessments with local officials, we’ll ask that other counties and other categories PA assistance be added to the federal declaration,” said TEMA Director Patrick Sheehan. “We will work to demonstrate federal assistance is necessary to lessen the financial burden on local resources for tornado response and recovery.”

The State Emergency Operations Center in Nashville has been operational since the morning of March 3, 2020, when a storm system moved through the state bringing tornadic activity, heavy rains, powerful winds, and hail through the west and middle regions of the state.

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A confirmed tornado, with wind speeds from 155 mph to 165 mph, left a wide path of destruction through portions of Benton, Carroll, Davidson, Putnam, and Wilson counties.

The tornado and severe storms caused 24 weather-related fatalities, damaged or destroyed five public schools, left 101,521 residents without power, and closed State Government offices.

RELATED: 24 dead after tornadoes tear through Nashville, Middle Tennessee

Tennessee remains in a State of Emergency and the State Emergency Operations Center in Nashville, Tenn. continues to operate in support of the ongoing tornado and severe weather response.

RELATED: TEMA declares state of emergency following Nashville tornado, severe weather

Find TEMA tornado and severe weather recovery information on debris removal, donations, volunteering and other resources here.