Tennessee, West Virginia to get federal disaster aid

Reuters News

3/17/2012 4:23:46 PM - Reuters News

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The U.S. government has made federal disaster aid available to Tennessee and West Virginia to help recovery efforts in areas affected by tornadoes, mudslides and flooding in late February and early March that caused more than $1 billion in damage.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)on Friday ordered aid to 11 West Virginia counties hit by bad weather between February 29 and March 5. The aid for 10 Tennessee counties applies for storm damage between February 29 and March 2.

Assistance may include grants for temporary housing and home repairs and low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses. The aid will supplement state and local recovery efforts.

FEMA previously denied disaster aid to Illinois, Missouri and Ohio following two bouts of tornadoes on February 29 and March 2 that killed more than 50 people, including seven in Harrisburg, Illinois.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn on Friday appealed the decision, providing more information about the damage in five southern counties to support the claim for disaster relief.

FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said the agency's assessments are based on factors such as the level of private insurance, private donations, and the capability of local authorities to manage the recovery.

More than 400 homes in Illinois were damaged or destroyed by storms.

According to disaster modeler Eqecat, estimated insurance industry losses from the storms total between $1 billion to $2 billion. In 2011, tornadoes caused $26 billion in economic losses in the U.S, greater than the previous record.

(Reporting By Mary Wisniewski; Additional reporting by Andrew Stern; Editing by Dan Burns)