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Federal aid iffy after severe stroms

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By Damon Lawrence

Monday’s bad weather is unlikely to produce a federal disaster declaration for the state, according to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.

“We get damage assessments from all the counties,” spokesman Jeremy Heidt said. “They’re doing that right now, but based on what we’re getting reported, it does not seem that that is likely to happen.”

A disaster declaration could make counties eligible for federal assistance.

Roane County Executive Ron Woody said officials here would be assessing the damage from the storms.

“That will be for roads, a couple of slides apparently up on Riggs Chapel,” he said. “Our highway department will be out working, and our building and codes will be out assessing some of this property damage that took place, houses and things.”

The state and counties have a threshold to meet in order to qualify for federal assistance.

The thresholds are based on a predetermined legal formula.

“Each county has to meet a per-capita threshold of uninsured damages, and that’s the key,” Heidt said. “It has to be uninsured damages.”

According to TEMA, the formula uses population of the jurisdiction as determined in the last official U.S. Census, which is then entered to multiply population by $3.27 per capita for counties and $1.30 per capita for the state.  

“It doesn’t look like it’s going to rise to the level of meeting those thresholds at this point,” Heidt said. “But it’s still early, and we’re still gathering damage assessments from the counties.”

Heidt said the state would have to qualify in order for the counties to.

Woody said he is optimistic about the state meeting its threshold because Hamilton and nearby Knox — two of the biggest counties in the state — were hit hard by the storms.

“We think that the state’s going to hit its threshold because of the damage in Knox County and Hamilton County,” he said.

“We will assess our damage to see if we will hit the county threshold.”