FEMA assistance now available to all Clay County flood victims

BY THOMAS P. WEAVER, HORIZON Editor

CLAY COUNTY-County mayor Dale Reagan said he learned late Saturday evening the county here had been officially issued a federal disaster declaration by the White House, joining 41 other counties across the state where federal assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) had been made available to help local individuals, businesses, and communities recover from the devastation of recent flooding.

“We got the call around 9 p.m. Saturday and we’re hoping a (FEMA) recovery team will be here later this week to help people start the process of applying for help,” Reagan said Monday afternoon.  “I feel confident those affected will now get the help they need.”

Reagan explained all residents affected by the flood should document the damage they suffered and report to the proper officials when they set up their local command center here.

“We’re going to set them up at the Women’s Building below the bridge at the fairgrounds,” Reagan said.  “Anyone who was affected by the flood should bring pictures and any other documentation showing the extent of the damage they endured.

“The team will go out and look at the damage, but they won’t be able to see how high the water was now that it has receded–hopefully the property owners will have pictures of the flooding to show them.”

Reagan said the county was approved for individual assistance, which means individual  persons affected are eligible for personal assistance, on top of the public assistance to be offered to cover county roads and other work done by local governments and agencies.

“I want to encourage anyone who was affected in any way to apply for help,” Reagan said.  “Even though it wasn’t as bad here as it was in many other places, we want to be sure everyone is taken care of–because one family suffering is one too many.”

Congressman Bart Gordon also urged residents here to apply in a release from his office.

“As Tennesseans recover from this flooding, this disaster declaration will provide much-needed assistance,” Gordon said. “I encourage Clay County residents to document their property damage and contact FEMA promptly to find out what kinds of assistance might be available to them.”

Gordon’s press release said individuals could be eligible for help, including grants for home repairs, funding for temporary housing, and other major flood-related expenses.  It also said individuals would have until July 6 to apply.

He also stressed the importance of the public assistance offered to the local government here.

“Local communities face enormous expenses immediately following a disaster,” Gordon said. “Debris removal, repairs to public buildings, and overtime wages for emergency personnel can cripple local governments. Federal assistance can help our communities cope with the mounting costs of responding to the flood.”

Gordon’s release also said the Small Business Administration will also work with FEMA to make low-interest loans available to affected businesses, as well as homeowners and renters. Individuals and business owners who register through FEMA may also qualify for this assistance.

Gordon said his staff in Cookeville was on hand to help county residents at anytime by calling 931-528-5907, and Reagan said he has already seen some signs of the federal help, besides the congressman’s offer, coming here to Clay County.

“We received a huge shipment of bottled water brought here by the military and we want to be sure it gets used to help,” Reagan said.  “I know there are people out there who may be without viable water supplies and we want to let them know we have it available.”

He said anyone needing water should contact EMA Director Natalie Boone through the sheriff’s office at 931-243-3266 or call his office at 931-243-2161.

Residents can also apply for federal assistance by visiting www.fema.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA.

See a future HORIZON for updates on this story and more about the assistance available.