The recent storms that wreaked havoc throughout the South and across the state of Tennessee have resulted in widespread devastation throughout. Many lost homes, precious belongings and, tragically, some lost lives. In a matter of minutes worlds were turned upside-down. But Tennesseans are resilient, and we will work hard to rebuild what was lost. Just as the people of Tennessee came together following last year’s floods, we will do so again. With heavy hearts, we will overcome great loss with greater strength and a renewed sense of community.
As I toured the devastation across the First District of Tennessee, I was deeply saddened by the damage I saw and the stories I heard. So many lost everything, including the lives of loved ones. My thoughts and prayers are with all of those who are suffering.
Even though it won’t be easy to replace what was lost, we are working with Governor Bill Haslam and emergency responders across the state of Tennessee to ensure people get the help they need. Several federal agencies may have disaster relief available:
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
As officials continue to assess the damage, we expect federal assistance to be made available to many residents in affected areas. Already, Greene, Johnson, Cocke and Washington counties have been presidentially-declared disaster areas, and damage assessments are ongoing in several other counties.
On Monday, Governor Haslam and I joined with the Director of FEMA in Greene County to tour the disaster and to discuss ongoing response and recovery efforts in Tennessee. FEMA’s assistance for affected individuals and families can include: rental payments for temporary housing for those whose homes are unlivable, grants for home repairs and replacements, grants for medical care, unemployment payments up to 26 weeks for workers who temporarily lost jobs because of the disaster, low-interest loans to cover residential losses not fully compensated by insurance, and crisis counseling.
Individuals in eligible areas should call FEMA to apply at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or apply online at www.disasterassistance.gov.
U.S. Department of House and Urban Development (HUD)
HUD is offering relief for those who qualify by giving state and local officials the option to use otherwise allocated HUD funds for disaster relief. Additionally, HUD is providing foreclosure relief, and it is making insurance available for both mortgages and home rehabilitation. HUD is also offering 108-loan guarantee assistance. Housing assistance should be made available during the application with FEMA.
U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)
SBA is also helping East Tennesseans who were affected by the severe storms, tornadoes, and high winds and flooding. It is offering low interest loans to homeowners to repair or replace disaster damaged or destroyed personal property. In addition, businesses and private non-profit organizations may borrow up to $2 million for destroyed real estate, machinery, equipment inventory, and other business assets. You may contact SBA at 800-659-2259 or visit www.disasterloans.sba.gov to apply for assistance.
I want to thank all of the volunteers and rescue workers involved in the disaster relief efforts. Even in tough times, the efforts of Americans like these should give all of us cause for hope.
In the days ahead, we will work together to ensure that our communities have the resources needed to rebuild. I have complete faith that we will emerge stronger and better than ever before.
To find out more information about disaster relief, please visit our website at www.roe.house.gov. As always, please contact my office if we can be of assistance to you or your family. Contact information can also be found on our website.