Middle Tennessee was torn apart by tornados in the early hours of Tuesday morning. I was able to accompany the Department of Safety that morning in their aerial survey of the damages. Seeing it firsthand from the air was emotional and heart-wrenching. all I could do while seeing it was pray. I want to thank our first responders, safety and road personnel, other state, city and county employees, medical personnel, non-profit organizations, volunteers and everyone who have and will be working tirelessly to get our communities back functioning.
Senate committees also heard updates from various officials of state government regarding the emergency response to help victims of the devastating tornadoes.
Prayers for those devastated by the storms were lifted by committee members continually on Tuesday and Wednesday, with lawmakers standing in recognition of victims and the state’s emergency responders during Thursday morning’s floor session. Senators commended state and local emergency personnel who performed above the call of duty during the disaster and expressed appreciation for the heroic efforts of citizens who participated in rescue and recovery efforts. They also stopped to remember those who lost their lives and the families who must rebuild in the aftermath of the storms.
At the direction of President Donald Trump, federal officials were dispatched to Tennessee immediately after the storms to assess the damage and assist with the recovery. The President said, “We send our love and our prayers of the nation to every family that was affected. And we will get there, and we will recover and we will rebuild, and we will help them.” The President visited Tennessee on Friday to meet with victims and to survey the damages.
A federal disaster designation enables local governments and individuals to access the critical federal grants and loans needed to help them recover from the damages sustained. The aid also helps citizens and state and local governments with costs for damage to roads, bridges, emergency protective measures, and debris removal.
Multiple agencies of state government have set up mobile operations in affected areas to aid victims. A full list of information about the ongoing tornado recovery resources can be found on the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency’s (TEMA) website at https://www.tn.gov/tema.
A tax relief bill to help storm victims rebuild is already being drafted. The legislation would allow building materials to be purchased tax-free for those affected.