Three UC counties to be considered for federal disaster declaration

By Michelle Price
Special to the UCBJ

NASHVILLE – Three Upper Cumberland counties with almost $4.5 million in damages are among the 16 counties that sustained major flood damages as a result of the severe storms of March 27 and March 28, 2021. As a first step in the disaster recovery process, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) this week began joint Preliminary Damage Assessments with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to verify the emergency response expenditures and losses sustained in those counties. 

On April 8, 2021, TEMA Director Patrick Sheehan requested FEMA to begin the joint PDA process for the counties of Campbell, Claiborne, Clay, Davidson, Decatur, Fentress, Grainger, Hardeman, Henderson, Jackson, Madison, McNairy, Scott, Williamson and Wilson.

“The joint PDAs with TEMA will officially quantify to federal authorities the magnitude of the flooding impact,” Sheehan said. “The joint PDA teams will specifically review information on each county’s impacts and losses and serve as the basis for Gov. Lee to seek assistance for the impacted counties through the federal Public Assistance program.”

See related story: Jackson County reports almost $4 million in flood damages, expenses

The federal PA program reimburses local and state governments, and certain private, nonprofit organizations for emergency work and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities and infrastructure.  

The categories of PA can include work or repairs for debris removal, emergency protective measures, roads and bridges, water control facilities, buildings and equipment, utilities, and recreational facilities.

Federal law requires damages and impacts in local jurisdictions to meet federally established per capita loss thresholds, at both the county and state levels.  

Under current federal guidelines, the state’s loss threshold is $9.8 million, or $1.55 per capita, while each Tennessee county’s loss threshold is $3.89 per capita. 

Together, the 16 counties in the joint PDA request report more than $23.9 million in total damage to roads and bridges, and utilities and buildings, and for removing debris and taking other emergency measures for their disaster response. 

County-by-county damage assessment totals include:

CountyReported Damages

The joint PDAs will include teams of local, stateto  and federal emergency management officials who will review federal damage assessment process and criteria. TEMA could request joint PDAs with FEMA for other counties as local damage assessments continue.

The severe weather across Tennessee on March 27 and March 28, 2021, caused seven fatalities and disrupted power to 15,000 customers. Some areas of Middle Tennessee received between 7” and 9” of rainfall in a 24-hour-period, resulting in the worst flash flooding event since the Great Tennessee Flood of May 2010.

More information about FEMA’s Public Assistance program is available at

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