Overton County Executive Ben Danner said state officials want damage assessments to determine if FEMA funds might be an option.
Danner said Tennessee Forestry crews and local agencies are working to get trees cut so electric companies can restore power. Danner said with areas still in disaster there is a potential that Tennessee might need federal assistance with the clean up.
“We’re in the process right now of getting numbers together, the state threshold I think is $10 million for the whole state of Tennessee in loss,” Danner said. “If the state hits that, they’re gonna ask the president for a declaration. If we get that, we will be able to get money from FEMA to help with the cleanup.”
Danner said it cost well over $1 million to get debris cleaned up after the 2015 ice storm. Danner said there’s more on the ground now, than during that storm.
“That would ask for money to come down from FEMA and there would be a match,” Danner said. “Usually it’s 75 percent of whatever it costs would be reimbursed from FEMA. Then there would be 25 percent, which 12.5 percent of that TEMA would match through the state. So, the county would be out for about 12.5 percent, which that would be a great help because when you’re talking about $1 million or $2 million to clean up.”
However, Danner said focusing on the cleanup can happen once the remaining 749 residents have power restored. He said crews are still having issues accessing areas with damage because of lingering ice.
“It’s hard to even imagine if you see it, there’s just so much debris down,” Danner said. “I mean, it’s taken days to get these roads cleared out and Upper Cumberland’s having some crews having to go in on foot and go up poles instead of getting trucks in. The Ice, of course it’s helping that it’s melting off right now but the night everything is freezing back over and it’s causing a big problem.”
He said there is still a lot of work to be done in Hilham, Hardy’s Chapel and everything in between Highway 11 and Highway 52 at Celina. Danner said it could be a week or two before the county transitions into its cleanup phase.