After terrible flooding and storms earlier this year, President Donald Trump has approved Gov. Bill Lee’s request for a major disaster declaration.
The storms from earlier this year include flooding, landslides, and mudslides that took place from February 19th to March 30th. Federal assistance is now available for state and local recovery in all affected areas. 56 counties are included in the affected areas, including Blount, Campbell, Cocke, Grainger, Greene, Hamblen, Hancock, Hawkins, Jefferson, Knox, Sevier and Union.
The cost in damages
Storms from earlier months caused a total of more than $80 million in damages to the state’s transportation network alone. Though expenses are so high, the Tennessee Department of Transportation only received $10 million in federal disaster relief funds.
Over the course of the few months, more than 50 emergency contracts were sent out to 73 counties. These emergency contracts were to fix up almost 300 different locations.
In Knox county, other expenses include floods estimating a total of $43.5 million in damage. $32.4 million of that damage was done to businesses and residential properties while the other $11 million is public sector damage.
The disaster declaration awarded the state and counties with something called reimbursement dollars. This basically means that the funds could take months, possibly even years to actually get to the possession of the counties.
“The reimbursable costs are related to the government’s costs of the emergency response, such as overtime for emergency responders and also damage repairs related to the floods such as the large sinkhole on Greenwell Rd. (in Knox County),” stated Knoxville-Knox County Emergency Management Agency Director Colin Ickes.
In the mean time, individual counties aren’t going to do nothing while they wait for the money to come in. Since it could take years, it would be pointless to leave destroyed places untouched. In fact, the money is only given to the local governments and not citizens or businesses. Due to this factor, most people have to work to get their homes and businesses back to normal.
An individual assistance declaration could be made in addition to the disaster declaration, but some counties didn’t meet the amount of damage required to receive these funds.
All that can be done is the communities of these counties and cities to come together to rebuild their homes and businesses. Since some counties didn’t qualify for individual assistance, most people have to put in their own time, effort, and money to see that their properties are back to their original state.
Once money does eventually come in to the local governments, these funds can be used to possibly help out businesses and citizens that need the money more than the governments do. As stated before though, it may take up to multiple years to even receive this money, so all people can do it make efforts to fix up their own properties.