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More Disaster Declaration Requests for Obama from Haslam

Press Release from Bill Haslam, Governor of the State of Tennessee, 7 May 2011:

Requests Assistance for Benton, Carroll, Crockett, Dyer, Gibson, Henderson, Henry, Houston, Lake, Lauderdale, Madison, Montgomery, Obion, Shelby and Stewart counties

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has asked President Obama to declare 15 counties as federal disaster areas due to a series of severe storms, straight-line winds, flash flooding and the record flooding of the Mississippi River, beginning on April 19, 2011.

Should this request for assistance be granted, Benton, Carroll, Crockett, Dyer, Gibson, Henderson, Henry, Houston, Lake, Lauderdale, Madison, Montgomery, Obion, Shelby and Stewart counties would have access to varying levels of federal assistance programs.

Haslam may request other counties as damage assessments are completed.

“We have many fine first responders, local leaders and state agencies who have been engaged for many days making sure we can protect and save lives, and protect property, during many severe weather and flooding emergencies,” Haslam said. “Federal assistance would help people restore their lives and help local governments rebuild their infrastructure.”

On April 26, Haslam declared a state of emergency as a precautionary move because of the severe weather and forecast of Mississippi River flooding. Haslam was briefed April 29 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the storms and their effect on water levels along the Mississippi River system, and he toured the levees in Northwest Tennessee with emergency management officials and local mayors May 3.

In the request, Haslam seeks Individual Assistance for Dyer, Lake, Obion, Shelby and Stewart counties, to include the Individuals and Households Program (IHP), Disaster Unemployment Assistance, Crisis Counseling, Disaster Food Stamp Program, American Bar Association Young Lawyers Legal Aid, and Small Businesses Administration disaster loans. The request also seeks assistance through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.

Haslam also seeks Public Assistance for all the counties in the request for debris removal, emergency protective measures, and rebuilding and repairing roads, bridges, water control facilities, buildings, utilities and recreational facilities.

The Department of Military, Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, Department of Agriculture, Department of Environment & Conservation, Department of Health (EMS), Department of Human Services, Department of Transportation, Department of Safety, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Civil Air Patrol, American Red Cross and Tennessee Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters are responding to the current flooding emergency and providing protective services to help local efforts.

Heavy snow-pack melting and above average rainfall in the Midwest raised the Mississippi River to record flood levels along Tennessee’s western border at the end of April. The rising Mississippi River added to flooding already occurring in many middle and west Tennessee counties due to severe storms and tornadoes in mid-April.

Additional information about state and federal assistance for affected counties will be released as details become available.

Damage assessments continue in East Tennessee following the storms and tornadoes that impacted that part of the state last week. Additional counties are expected to be added to the initial declaration from May 2 as those assessments continue.

For more updates regarding the state’s response, visit the TEMA website at www.tnema.org.

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Business and Economy Environment and Natural Resources News

Enviros, Unions Hoping to Get Lucky with Clean Energy Jobs Package

With lobbyists and lawmakers milling about Capitol Hill attired in festive emerald hues, a coalition of interest groups decided St. Patrick’s Day was a perfect opportunity to roll out an organized push for “green jobs” in the Tennessee General Assembly.

Legislators will start considering a bill that would help funnel federal dollars to the state to try stimulating the energy-efficiency industry. The legislation, which is expected to go before House and Senate committees next week, would build a task force devoted to helping the state attract federal dollars for green energy jobs.

“These are the jobs of the future. This is what we have to be aiming for. This and more,” said on of the proposal’s chief sponsors, Sen. Andy Berke, D-Chattanooga.

After several weeks of working potential wrinkles out of the legislation, Burke said the bill is now ready for primetime and he’ll be making its passage a priority beginning next week.

Clad in green clothes and stickers, representatives of the Green-Collar Task Force of Nashville and Davidson County, said the additional jobs would help address the state’s high unemployment and put money back into the economy.

“Green jobs are especially good because they cannot be easily outsourced, say, to Asia,” said Jerry Lee of the AFL/CIO. “If you put up solar panels, you can’t ship a building to Asia and have them put the solar panels on and ship it back. These jobs have to be done in the United States.”

House bill sponsor and Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, said he didn’t know how many green jobs would be created, but speculated it could be thousands within three or four years.

Tennessee is “uniquely positioned” to house jobs in energy efficiency because of the work being done at the state’s universities, he said.