State matches federal aid for counties hit by storms

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The state will match a percentage of the federal public assistance funds provided after last month's tornadoes in West and Middle Tennessee, the governor announced Monday.

Gov. Phil Bredesen said the state will match up to 12.5% of the total amount and qualifying counties would also provide another matching 12.5%.

Public assistance funds allow local agencies to get a reimbursement up to 75 percent of spending for disaster recovery operations. These operations include debris removal, overtime for police and fire departments, and repair of roads, bridges, public utilities and other public buildings.

Tornadoes swept across the state on April 2 and April 7, killing 35 people in four counties.

"We must realize that just a small amount of help at the right time can put communities back on their feet and working their way back," Bredesen said in a news release. "The state of Tennessee will always be there to help our citizens in the time of need, and this funding will ensure the right kind of help is available to restore normalcy."

Twelve counties approved for public assistance have so far reported damages exceeding $15.7 million, according to the governor's office.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)