Federal assistance up in the air for Tennessee following deadly storms; how you can help victims

Published: Apr. 3, 2023 at 11:43 PM EDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Mid-South was struck twice in a week by devastating severe weather events.

Between March 24 and 31, more than 30 people died in Mississippi, Tennessee, and Arkansas, and countless others have no place to call home.

A man in Wynne, Arkansas, compared the city to what he saw during Operation Desert Storm: a war zone.

And Wynne is just one of the towns reeling after multiple tornado outbreaks destroyed homes and businesses across the Mid-South.

Luckily, help is coming from President Biden’s disaster declaration that came by request from Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves.

So far, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has not sent that request to President Biden asking for the same federal assistance that’s helping Arkansas and Mississippi jump-start debris removal and getting the utilities turned back on for thousands of people.

Action News 5 reached out to his office to ask if there were plans to do so and received this statement:

“The Governor plans to request a federal disaster declaration and is currently exploring all disaster assistance programs to provide needed relief to the impacted communities.”

Federal assistance is something Governor Sanders says she’s grateful to have, and that FEMA Administrator DeAnne Criswell says she’s happy to give.

“We are here for the long haul, governor. We are going to be with you through this process,” Criswell said. “But it also comes with the ability to bring it back and bring in mitigation and make it stronger and more resilient.”

Some local groups are taking donations as well.

The Shelby County Criminal Court Clerk’s Office will accept donations for the citizens in Covington, Tennessee, at the Poplar Plaza Kroger located at 3444 Poplar Avenue from 7:30 a.m. until noon on Wednesday.

The following items are needed:

1. Gatorade

2. Capri Sun

3. Toothbrushes (no travel size)

4. Toothpaste (no travel size)

5. First Aid Kits 6. Deodorant (no travel size)

7. $10 Gift cards

8. Any food that you do not have to cook

Anyone who is looking to volunteer to assist with storm recovery in Covington can call Samaritan’s Purse Disaster Relief at 901-422-3838 or Southern Baptist Disaster Relief at 901-489-2937.

Those willing to volunteer with any cleanup in Wynne can contact Ashley Brumley at 870-318-0655. Volunteers and donations are also being sought by the American Red Cross of Arkansas.

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