Alexander, Corker Get Firsthand Look at Flood Recovery Efforts in West Tennessee

Posted on May 18, 2010

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker were in Shelby County Monday for a firsthand look at recovery efforts following the devastating flooding earlier this month. The senators toured parts of Millington, led by Millington Mayor Richard Hodges and Interim Shelby County Mayor Joe Ford, and then received a briefing from state officials as well as TEMA (Tennessee Emergency Management Agency) and FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) representatives, including Tennessee Transportation Commissioner Gerald Nicely, TEMA Director James Bassham, and FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Gracia Szczech.

“Senator Corker and I, along with Tennessee’s House members, have asked the Congress to do what it can to recognize that this has been the largest natural disaster in the U.S. since President Obama took office,” Alexander said. “The flooding didn’t make as much news as some other recent stories, because Tennesseans were helping each other and cleaning up instead of looting and complaining.” Alexander said the Senate Appropriations Committee this past week made some changes to the Supplemental Appropriations bill that might be approved by the end of next week – legislation that he said includes, “First, another $5 billion for FEMA, so it doesn’t run out of money. Second, an increase in the federal share of project cost from 75 percent to 90 percent for local governments and the state. Third, there’s $72 million to help rebuild Millington’s Naval center. And then there’s some money for economic development assistance and Community Development Block Grants, which communities – especially rural communities – can use across West and Middle Tennessee. We know that federal help is not going to make anybody whole—no one should think that—but Senator Corker and I, along with the rest of Tennessee’s congressional delegation, will do our part as ‘backups’ to the tremendously inspiring first-responder recovery effort we’re seeing from across West and Middle Tennessee.” 

“Our hearts go out, especially, to those who have lost loved ones and also to those who have lost their homes, their businesses, and in many cases, their life’s work. We realize that many Tennesseans have a long road ahead and will continue to support efforts at the federal level to make sure appropriate needed support is getting back to Tennessee,” said Corker. “In Shelby County and in communities all across Tennessee, it is inspiring to see how local, state and federal officials are working together, and as we toured some of the hardest hit areas of Millington, it was uplifting to see Tennesseans giving of themselves to make sure their neighbors are taken care of.”

The senators began the day with a driving and walking tour of hard-hit areas of Millington. The tour route, which began at the Disaster Recovery Center in the Millington Civic Center, included the Shady Oaks mobile home park and the Indian Meadows subdivision, both of which suffered heavy flooding that forced residents to evacuate their homes and caused extensive damage.  Later at City Hall, the senators participated in a briefing on the response and recovery efforts with TEMA and FEMA officials. In addition to Mayor Hodges and Mayor Ford, McNairy County Mayor Jai Templeton, Lauderdale County Mayor Rod Schuh, Fayette County Mayor Skip Taylor, Dyersburg Mayor John Holden, Arlington Mayor Russell Wiseman and Bartlett Mayor Keith McDonald were in attendance.

Officials from Fayette, Tipton, Benton, Carroll, Chester, Crockett, Decatur, Dyer, Gibson, Hardeman, Hardin, Haywood, Henderson, Henry, Lake, Lauderdale, Madison, McNairy, Obion and Weakley counties were invited to participate in the briefing.

On May 4, Senators Alexander and Corker joined the rest of the Tennessee congressional delegation in a letter to President Obama urging support for Governor Bredesen’s request for federal disaster relief for 52 of Tennessee’s 95 counties. To date 42 Tennessee counties have been designated, including: Benton, Carroll, Cheatham, Chester, Clay, Crockett, Davidson, Decatur, DeKalb, Dickson, Dyer, Fayette, Gibson, Hardeman, Hardin, Haywood, Henderson, Hickman, Houston, Humphreys, Jackson, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Lewis, Macon, Madison, Maury, McNairy, Montgomery, Obion, Perry, Robertson, Rutherford, Shelby, Smith, Stewart, Sumner, Tipton, Trousdale, Wayne, Williamson, and Wilson.

The Tennessee delegation also requested funding for Tennessee flood relief in the upcoming supplemental appropriations bill. Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a supplemental appropriations bill containing $5.1 billion in additional funding for FEMA and more than $200 million in emergency funding for flood relief in Tennessee.  The legislation must now be considered by the full Senate.

Individuals and businesses in need of assistance may call FEMA at 1-800-621-FEMA or go online at http://www.fema.gov/.