Biden declares state of emergency in Tennessee after tornadoes
The Center Square
President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency in Tennessee on Tuesday after tornadoes that hit the state overnight Friday left four residents dead.
Gov. Bill Lee asked Biden on Monday for the declaration to provide assistance for residents of Cheatham, Decatur, Dickson, Dyer, Gibson, Lake, Obion, Stewart, and Weakley counties.
The emergency declaration allows the Federal Emergency Management Agency to lead disaster recovery efforts while trying to save lives and provide emergency and recovery services.
“FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency,” a White House press release said. “Emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent Federal funding.”
Lee also signed an executive order Monday to help in the state’s recovery.
The order, stating that a major disaster and emergency exist, removes many restrictions to allow for quicker relief efforts, including suspending restrictions on what vehicles can be used in recovery efforts, allowing more individuals the ability to participate in storm cleanup, speeding up special transportation permits, giving commercial drivers an emergency exception to federal rules and waiving residency requirements for those handling nutrition and child well-being programs.
“The impact of severe weather in Tennessee and our neighboring states has been devastating,” Lee said. “We remain committed to providing the necessary resources to assist Tennesseans as they recover from this tragic loss.”
Other restrictions removed allow vacation lodging services to provide space for victims of the severe weather, waive fees on duplicate driver’s licenses, allow pharmacists to dispense an extra 30-day supply of maintenance prescriptions, direct insurance companies to help those affected by the weather and allow insurance professionals not licensed in the state to assist as well.
The rules also waive state and county clerk fees for the issuance of lost or damaged motor vehicle titles and provides flexibilities for nonresident security guards and officers to secure affected areas.
The tornado outbreak hit western Kentucky the hardest. At least 64 people were killed in Kentucky, and Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said at least 105 residents remain missing.