Saturday, May 8, 2010

16,000 Tennesseans Already Registered For Disaster Help

Channel 5 Posted: May 08, 2010 1:26 PM CDT NASHVILLE, Tenn. – As of 6 a.m. Saturday, over 16,000 Tennessee residents have applied for disaster assistance from FEMA. With 650 inspections already complete, over $4.1 million has been approved for assistance to individuals. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano made the announcement at a news conference Saturday morning at Belmont University in Nashville. "This has been quite a large disaster in Tennessee, so it was important to see with my own eyes what the impacts were, but also to see the recovery efforts," said Napolitano. She said Federal Emergency Management Director (FEMA) Craig Fegate has been all over the state assessing needs, and relaying the information back to Homeland Security. She also praised the efforts of Tennessee residents and local officials. "I think Tennesseans can be assured that everybody is really focused on this and really paying attention," she said. Napolitano stressed the need for a continued effort. "We've been traveling around today and talking with the Governor and the Mayor about other things that need to be done in the coming days and weeks," said Napolitano She said officials would need to think through all the recovery efforts that need to be made, like housing and getting businesses set back up. "This is a big flood and it affected a lot of areas across Tennessee. Some parts are dry and open for business and people should know that – but other parts are going to need long term help," said Napolitano. Secretary Napolitano stressed the importance for victims to register for assistance. Victims who need disaster recovery help should call FEMA at 1-800-621-FEMA or log onto Those with mobile Internet access can go to Officials have been looking at the immediate needs of victims like housing. Napolitano cautioned that there are limits to the help FEMA can offer. "There will be individuals who suffer financial damages, no doubt. We will help in every way we possibly can," she said. FEMA workers and officials expect to be in Tennessee for around six months helping with the recovery efforts. Other organizations will join in the help and eventually take over for FEMA. Napolitano said President Barack Obama has been receiving regular updates about the progress being made in the state. She said other cabinet members will also be visiting the state to see how their groups can help. Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen, Senator Lamar Alexander, Congressman Jim Cooper, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, FEMA Director Craig Fegate and State Senator Doug Henry were also at Saturday's news conference. Governor Bredesen said he has been in constant contact with Washington. "Through the entire process I've had a chance to talk several times to Secretary Napolitano and she has been very helpful. She wanted to come down today to see things first hand," said Bredesen.

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