Tennessee Gov. Lee asks FEMA to review damage after storm
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee asked federal emergency management officials on Wednesday to help assess whether counties affected by last week’s icy winter storm can receive funds to assist with power restoration.
The Republican governor asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency to work with the state’s emergency department on a preliminary damage assessment after a storm brought freezing rain, sleet and snow to counties in West and Middle Tennessee on Feb. 3 and 4.
On the first day of the storm, more than 140,000 homes and businesses lost power in the state. Flooding also was reported. A motorist was killed in Haywood County when he crashed his pickup truck into a tree that had fallen onto a state highway.
In Memphis, ice accumulated on city streets and trees, which sagged and dropped limbs on power lines and homes. More than 500 trees fell onto city streets, blocking traffic and taking down electrical lines. Ice also damaged electrical transmission circuits, leading to delays in power restoration.
Electrical crews, including some from other states, have worked 16-hour shifts to restore power. More than 30,000 homes and businesses remained without electrical service Wednesday in Memphis, according to the city’s power company, Memphis Light, Gas & Water.
Residents who were still without electricity Wednesday had spent six days either staying with friends or family, in hotels, or huddled in their cold homes. Power company officials have said they hope to have service restored by the end of this week for customers affected by the storm.
Lee’s office said that joint Preliminary Damage Assessments, such as the one he requested, are used to determine if a state can qualify for a major disaster declaration and for local jurisdictions to receive federal funding.
FEMA’s public assistance program reimburses governments and certain private organizations for emergency work, restoration of utility services, and repair or replacement of facilities and infrastructure damaged by disasters, officials said.
U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, a Memphis Democrat, had sent a letter to Lee asking him to seek emergency assistance from FEMA.