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Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release April 2, 1997
        Tennesseans Eligible For Assistance To Help Rebuild,
                       Repair After Tornadoes

President Clinton has declared that a major disaster exists in the State of Tennessee as a result of tornadoes that recently swept across the state, Vice President Gore announced today (4/2). This means that Tennesseans trying to rebuild their homes and their communities will be eligible for individual assistance and other aid that will supplement state and local recovery efforts already underway.

"Tennesseans have been hit hard by these tornadoes," said Vice President Gore. "They need help rebuilding their lives after violent tornadoes ripped through their communities. That is why I am pleased to announce today that the federal government will make disaster assistance available immediately to those who need it. President Clinton and I want to make sure that Tennesseans get the assistance they need from the federal government to recover from the damage of these tornadoes."

Thirteen tornadoes swept across Tennessee on March 28, 1997. Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes continued to impact the state through March 29, causing extensive damage to 13 counties. Many people were injured, and hundreds of families were displaced from their homes. In addition, extensive debris generated by fallen trees caused considerable damage to electrical utility systems, leaving thousands of customers without power.

Declaring that a major disaster exists in Tennessee means that residents and businesses owners affected by the tornadoes may apply to receive federal aid, including assistance for disaster housing, unemployment, crisis counseling, and hazard mitigation. In addition, the Small Business Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture will make disaster loans available to the people of Tennessee.

Specifically, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will provide individual assistance to residents and business owners of these counties: Bradley, Hamilton, Polk, Sequatchie, and Smith. To apply for assistance beginning tomorrow (4/3) call 1-800-462-9029 or 1-800-462-7585 (TDD) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free numbers will operate from 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM seven days a week until further notice. For more information, please contact FEMA at 202-646-4600.