Tenn. members of Congress urge President Obama to approve disaster assistance

(Courtesy: TEMA via WATE)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Members of Tennessee’s Congressional delegation are urging President Obama to approve Governor Haslam’s request for a major disaster declaration for the State of Tennessee.

The declaration would help five Tennessee counties impacted by wildfires and severe weather in November rebuild and recover.

PHOTOS: Wildfires in East Tennessee

The letter was signed by Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker and Representatives Diane Black, Marsha Blackburn, Steve Cohen, Jim Cooper, Scott DesJarlais, John Duncan, Stephen Fincher, Chuck Fleischmann and Phil Roe.

PHOTOS: Tennessee, Alabama storm damage

See the full text of the letter below.

Dear Mr. President: 

On behalf of the State of Tennessee, we are writing to support Governor Bill Haslam’s request to declare a major disaster pursuant to the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief Act as a result of the severe wildfires and tornadoes that impacted our state beginning November 28, 2016.

Governor Bill Haslam has submitted a request for Public Assistance and Individual Assistance for Sevier County, which was affected by wildfires and for Coffee, McMinn, Polk and Sequatchie counties which were affected by severe weather and tornadoes. We strongly urge you to approve Governor Haslam’s request, and we hope you will consider our State’s request as soon as possible. 

The severe wildfires that swept through Sevier County, Tennessee beginning November 28, required the evacuation of over 14,000 residents and visitors and led to 14 fatalities and 134 reported injuries. The wildfires damaged or destroyed over 2,200 homes, businesses and other structures. At its peak, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency estimated that over 1,300 people occupied six Red Cross and independently-operated shelters.   

The severe weather that impacted 10 counties in East Tennessee on November 29, produced 5 tornadoes and led to 4 fatalities and 12 reported injuries. The severe weather caused structural damage and downed powerlines throughout East Tennessee, especially in Coffee, McMinn, Polk and Sequatchie counties.  

The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency has been working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency since the beginning of these incidents, and we are grateful for their efforts to respond to Tennessee’s needs. Our offices can provide you with any additional information should you have any questions.”