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Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release May 12, 1999


         Announces that Major Disaster Exists in Tennessee, 
                 Funds to Help in Recovery Efforts

Linden, TN -- After surveying the damage left in the wake of last week's tornadoes first hand, Vice President Gore announced today that the President has declared that a major disaster exists in the State of Tennessee.

"My heart goes out to the families of my home state of Tennessee whose lives were violently disrupted as a result of last week's tornadoes and powerful storms," said Vice President Gore. "But I want assure the people of my home state that we will help them during this difficult time. Today's declaration will bring much-needed resources to affected areas and will help families rebuild both their neighborhoods and their lives."

Federal aid has been ordered to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area struck by severe storms, tornadoes, and flooding on May 5, 1999, and continuing.

The President's action makes Federal funding available to affected individuals and local governments in a 17 county area. The counties include Cheatham, Chester, Davidson, Decatur, Dickson, Hardeman, Hardin, Henderson, Hickman, Houston, Humphreys, Lawrence, McNairy, Perry, Stewart, White, and Williamson.

Assistance can include disaster housing, grants, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.

Federal funding also is available to eligible local governments on a cost-sharing basis for the repair or replacement of public facilities damaged by the severe storms, tornadoes, and flooding. Federal funding is also available on a cost share basis for hazard mitigation measures.

James L. Witt, Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), named Mr. Paul W. Fay, Jr. of FEMA's regional office in Atlanta, Georgia to coordinate Federal recovery operations in the affected area.

Damage surveys are continuing in other areas, and additional counties may be added after the assessments are completed.

Residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties can begin applying for assistance tomorrow by calling 1-800-462-9029, or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week until further notice. For further information contact: FEMA (202) 646-4600.