Northeast Tennessee counties waiting to learn if they’ll receive FEMA money after flooding

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(WJHL) – Northeast Tennessee counties are waiting on a declaration to be signed by President Donald Trump to learn whether they will receive money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency following February 2019’s devastating flooding.

Emergency management directors we spoke with said they do not expect to receive any individual assistance money from FEMA, should the President sign a declaration. Several do hope to receive public assistance money.

According to the FEMA website, public assistance grant programs provide assistance to local governments and some private nonprofits. That money is used for debris removal, life-saving emergency protective measures and to fix public facilities and roads.

The individual assistance program provides disaster survivors with help following a catastrophic event.

According to Sullivan County EMA director Jim Bean, the county submitted damage information to FEMA, but didn’t request individual aid funding.

“FEMA typically wants to see 20 to 25 homes destroyed to the point of uninhabitable (to provide IA),” Bean told News Channel 11. “Numbers were submitted, but didn’t meet criteria.”

Emergency management officials in Carter, Washington, Unicoi and Johnson Counties all said their counties do not meet that criteria for individual assistance relief. However, public assistance could be provided should a Presidential Disaster Declaration be signed.

“Most all of our damage was roads,” said Ed Herrondon, Unicoi County’s EMA director. “$172,000 in damage was submitted. Later, we found more.”

Greene County director Bill Brown and Johnson County director Jason Blevins both said Tennessee Emergency Management Agency and FEMA representatives had visited their counties to survey road damage.

Brown told News Channel 11 that the county’s damage would need to total about $260,000 or more to receive public assistance. TEMA and FEMA told him there appeared to be enough road damage to qualify.

“We have a little over $1 million, I think,” Blevins said about the estimated road damage.

As many of the emergency management directors stressed, it’s now a waiting game to see if President Trump signs the disaster declaration. Blevins said he expects it to be at least another month before they hear anything about money.

“We just don’t know when we’ll hear back,” he said.

News Channel 11 also reached out to Hawkins County EMA Director Gary Murrell about damage in that county, but has yet to receive a response.

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