Scott, Fentress among 13 Tennessee counties eligible for federal relief from February storm

Regional News

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Gov. Bill Lee announced Thursday the Federal Emergency Management Agency will grant his request for a major disaster declaration to help several counties impacted during severe winter storms in the state from Feb. 11-19.

“A severe winter storm on top of a global pandemic is a very challenging situation,” Lee said. “I commend the first responders and local officials who worked to keep their communities safe in such dire circumstances, and I thank FEMA for their help in providing financial relief to our impacted counties.”

The 13 counties included in FEMA’s major disaster declaration are Bedford, Cannon, Coffee, DeKalb, Fentress, Jackson, Moore, Overton, Pickett, Putnam, Scott, Shelby, and Smith.

FEMA’s award of a major disaster declaration means the eligible county jurisdictions will be able to seek reimbursement through the federal Public Assistance program for emergency work and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities and infrastructure.

In mid-February, an Arctic air mass began moving through Tennessee with waves of freezing rain, heavy snow, ice, and very cold temperatures. 

The severe winter weather caused a total of six fatalities and at the height of the storm, more than 20,000 Tennesseans were without power.

Local damage assessments afterward exceeded Tennessee’s federal threshold of $9,836,462.75 needed to ask FEMA for a joint review of damages, and ultimately to Gov. Lee’s request of FEMA for a major disaster declaration.

For more information about FEMA’s PA program visit www.fema.gov/public-assistance-local-state-tribal-and-nonprofit.

The U.S. Small Business Administration also announced that certain private nonprofit
organizations in Tennessee that do not provide critical services of a governmental nature may be eligible to apply for low-interest disaster loans.

Examples of eligible organizations include, but are not limited to, food kitchens, homeless shelters, museums, libraries, community centers, schools and colleges. PNP organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets.

Applicants may be eligible for a loan amount increase up to 20% of their physical damages, as verified by the SBA, for mitigation purposes. Eligible mitigation improvements may include a safe room or storm shelter, sump pump, French drain or retaining wall to help protect property and occupants from future damage caused by a similar disaster.

The SBA also offers economic injury disaster loans to help meet working capital needs, such as
ongoing operating expenses to eligible nonprofits. EIDL assistance is available regardless of whether the organization suffered any physical property damage.

PNP organizations are urged to contact their county’s Emergency Manager for information about their organization. The information will be submitted to FEMA to determine eligibility for a Public Assistance grant or whether the PNP should be referred to SBA for disaster loan assistance.

Applicants may apply for declaration No. 16925 online using the Electronic Loan Application via SBA’s secure website at DisasterLoan.sba.gov. Disaster loan information and application forms may also be obtained by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 or sending an email to DisasterCustomerService@sba.gov.

Loan applications can also be downloaded from sba.gov/disaster. The filing deadline to submit applications for physical property damage is June 21, 2021. The deadline to submit economic injury applications is Jan. 21, 2022.

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