Dresden still awaiting federal assistance for tornado recovery

DRESDEN, Tenn. — In a town that has suffered loads of destruction following December’s tornadoes, residents and leaders all have one question: Why has FEMA not yet declared it a disaster?

“That’s the valid question, that people are asking, “Where’s FEMA” and we’re hoping that very soon FEMA is going to be here to assist us with this clean up and recovery,” said Mayor Jeff Washburn.

Washburn says he believes the reason FEMA is slow to declaring the area a disaster is the fact that the town had no loss of life.

“Kentucky had multiple deaths, several dozen deaths, and almost immediately got a disaster declaration because of that,” Washburn said. “Here in Dresden and Weakley County, we had no deaths which was a blessing for our community, but it doesn’t necessarily draw the attention like Mayfield, Kentucky has.”

Soon after the tornado struck Dresden, leaders applied for federal assistance. Mayor Washburn says it normally takes up to four weeks, and they have just passed that date.

“So we’re on schedule. FEMA has requested additional information for us to provide and we’re working diligently to get them all the information they need.”

After FEMA surveys the data of damage, then they can move forward, the clean up can begin and financial assistance can be disbursed to residents. It’s something Washburn says is a long time coming and is much needed.

“Rebuilding their homes. It’s going to be a help in rebuilding businesses that were destroyed, assist us in rebuilding our city hall and our fire department and police department. It’s going to get us back on our feet and operating as a city.”

Mayor Washburn says once FEMA does begin cleanup if they were to declare the town a disaster, he says it could take up to two years to get the city back to normal, or to even better than what it was before.

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