Alexander: Committee Approval of Federal Funds “Important First Step to Help with Tennessee Flooding”

Says Rest of Country Will Also Benefit from Additional $5.1 Billion for FEMA Included in Supplemental Bill

Posted on May 13, 2010

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said today that approval of emergency funding by the Senate Appropriations Committee, of which he is a member, is one of the “important first steps to help Tennesseans hurt by the unprecedented flood of 2010. Tennessee and the rest of the country will benefit from the additional $5.1 billion for FEMA, making sure it doesn’t run out of money while Tennesseans get back on their feet.” 

Specifically, the Appropriations Committee recommended: 

  • an increase in the federal share of project cost from 75 percent to 90 percent for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funds, which Alexander said would be of “enormous help to local and state governments in rebuilding roads, public buildings, and bridges – like the four bridges destroyed in Hickman County – and to individuals who need help with housing.”
  • $49 million for economic development assistance that could, for example, help relocate a water treatment facility or rebuild a civic center.
  • $100 million for Community Development Block Grants, which the senator said “could help businesses closed by the flood to restart. As many as 30 percent of the businesses hit by the flood might never reopen.”
  • $72 million for flooding at the Naval Support Activity Mid-South in Millington, Tenn., which is where all Navy personnel records are managed and also serves as Navy headquarters for recruitment activities.

Additionally, it provides $200 million to the Army Corps of Engineers for harbor and channel dredging on the Mississippi River to restore major traffic and economic activity, including at the harbor in Memphis. 

Alexander said, “It’s important for the country and Congress to know that this is the largest natural disaster since President Obama took office. The president asked for $68 million and other changes in the law to help the Gulf of Mexico clean up from the oil leak. I hope he’ll give the same kind of attention to the flood in Tennessee. 

“It’s going to be a long haul, but one of the most inspiring stories in our country is the story of Tennesseans cleaning up and helping each other – and not complaining – throughout this unprecedented disaster. And maybe that’s why it hasn’t gotten the attention in the news it otherwise might have.” 

Alexander continued, “Committee Chairman Inouye and Ranking Member Cochran have bent over backwards in a short period of time to put money into accounts that would be most helpful to Tennesseans. The federal effort on the ground to date has been timely and impressive in declaring counties eligible for assistance and already awarding more than $45 million for FEMA assistance to individual Tennesseans.” 

The Supplemental Appropriations bill, which also provides funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee and will be considered soon by the full Senate.