Lawmakers push to get State of Emergency declared for Shelby Cou - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Lawmakers push to get State of Emergency declared for Shelby County

(Source: Russell Voeller) (Source: Russell Voeller)
MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) -

Lawmakers are in the process of declaring a State of Emergency in Memphis.

A State of Emergency declaration is a formal request for federal disaster assistance. Governor Bill Haslam must officially make the federal State of Emergency declaration.

Mayor Jim Strickland's Office said two things must happen before the governor can issue the declaration: Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell must file for a State of Emergency, and local government costs related to the storm must exceed $9.07 million.

Luttrell has already filed for the State of Emergency, and local governments are currently estimating the repair costs.

Once the local estimates are completed, the request for a federal State of Emergency declaration will go to Gov. Haslam's office.

If our area qualifies for a State of Emergency declaration, it opens the door for three things:

  1. Assistance from the federal government to local government for a partial reimbursement of our costs. This would be storm cleanup costs, damages to infrastructure or government buildings, etc. 
  2. Assistance from the federal government to individuals to pay for your damages. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) could open a processing center in Shelby County, where individuals could apply for federal financial assistance.
  3. Assistance from the federal government to small businesses. This could mean low-interest Small Business Administration loans for businesses affected by the storm. 

Meanwhile, Mayor Strickland asked Memphis City Council for as much as $6 million to support efforts to clean up the city following a damaging storm that rolled through over the weekend.

Strickland proposed a resolution asking for $3 million from the public works division to provide storm response and cleanup, as well as another $3 million from the reserve fund for storm debris removal. Specifics for the payments have not been released.

A city council committee approved both funding requests. The full city council will vote on the resolution June 6.

"We're going to have to move quickly forward once the funding is available to help those citizens," Memphis Public Works Director Robert Knecht said.

Strickland said a majority of the clean up costs will be refunded by the federal government, but to get funds for individual homeowners, the city must prove 100 uninsured homes sustained significant damage.

We've got to get the word out," Strickland said. "If you're uninsured and your house is substantially damaged, please call 636-2525."

Memphis Light, Gas, and Water brought in 73 crews from four states to assist in repairing power lines that have been down since Saturday night’s storm. The crews based out of East Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Ohio are working around the clock to restore power in Shelby County.

"It's pretty bad," Devin Frank of Lexington, Kentucky said. "We've had crews from Nashville, Clarksville, Evansville, Indiana, Ohio, all over the place."

Frank is with one of the 73 crews working to get Memphians back on the grid.

Outages Tuesday hovered around 60,000. That's down from a height of 190,000.

An inch and a half of rain fell on Memphis on Saturday, complicating MLGW's efforts. As a result, MLGW said it could take a week to get everyone powered up again.

"It's tedious work. You've got a bunch of backdoor services down. You've got to go neighborhood-to-neighborhood to turn everything back on," Frank said.

It's too early for MLGW to say how much this storm and repair effort will cost the city. However, Mayor Strickland said tree removal and power restoration will make up the bulk of the expenses.

Click here for a list of resources available if your home is still without power.

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