The insurance industry has paid $2 billion on 260,000 claims filed by Tennesseans as a result of storms between April 22 and April 28, reports the Cleveland Daily Banner..
Gary Kearney, assistant vice president of Property Claims Service, a New Jersey company that identifies catastrophes for the insurance industry, said only the state of Alabama suffered a greater loss, at around $3 billion.
Localized figures are not available except through individual insurance companies or if the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance issues a data call, which it is considering and moving toward, according to Christopher Garrett, director of communications for the state agency.
Corker Says Don’t Worry
Despite high-level warnings to the contrary, U.S. Sen. Bob Corker said April’s tornado victims shouldn’t worry about getting long-term disaster relief from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, according to the Chattanooga TFP.
“I don’t see any way people are going to be left hanging,” he said Wednesday.
FEMA Director Craig Fugate told reporters on Monday that money designated for long-term, post-tornado rebuilding projects in Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia would be diverted to more immediate needs for Hurricane Irene victims.
Based upon FEMA’s current funding levels — less than $1 billion and running low, officials said — any work orders that aren’t in the pipeline could be at risk unless Congress allocates additional dollars. Already-approved FEMA projects are safe, Fugate said.
Corker, a Republican who routinely criticizes federal intervention and once said “you should never vote ‘no’ on spending reductions,” took a different approach Wednesday while offering few specifics for victims reeling from the tri-state region’s deadliest-ever natural disaster in April.
Nashville Flood Buyouts at Risk?
Dozens of Nashville flood victims could face delays in receiving government buyouts after the Federal Emergency Management Agency placed a freeze on long-term disaster relief spending this week on the heels of Hurricane Irene, reports the Tennessean.
Metro has completed two rounds of buyouts since the May 2010 flood that pummeled Nashville and its neighboring counties. But three additional rounds of buyouts are still in the application process, and owners of those 118 properties remain in the waiting phase.
Mayor Karl Dean’s spokeswoman, Bonna Johnson, said Metro was working with state and federal officials to determine the impact of the freeze on Metro’s buyout program.
“Mayor Dean is concerned that a freeze in FEMA funding could mean delays in the current buyout program and could limit any future program,” Johnson said.
From the House Democratic Caucus
(Nashville) — House Democrats and Republicans filed a bill Tuesday to provide tax relief for flood and tornado victims.
Tennesseans that qualify for Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance authorized by President Barack Obama, under the measure, could buy appliances, building materials and home furnishings tax free through the end of the year.
“The most important thing right now is for everyone to keep all their receipts until this legislation is approved,” said House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh (D-Ripley). “We’ve got to help our friends and neighbors get back on their feet. We plan to move this legislation through as quickly as possible, so that Tennesseans can start putting their lives back together.”
The proposal provides for tax exemptions on household appliances up to $3,200 per item, building materials up to $500 per item and furnishings up to $3,200 per item. The exemptions are capped at $2,500 per household. Also, a $25,000 fine would be imposed on anyone who fraudulently applies for the assistance.
The deadline for filing receipts with the Department of Revenue is February 29, 2011.
“Our hearts go out to those that lost so much due to these terrible acts of nature,” said House Democratic Floor Leader Lois DeBerry (D-Memphis). “We’ll be issuing more information on how to apply for these tax refunds when the bill passes next week.”