Joint Preliminary Damage Assessments Start Tomorrow in Memphis & Shelby County

Friday, June 02, 2017 | 1:11pm

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) will begin a joint Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA) for federal Public Assistance this weekend in the City of Memphis and in Shelby County to verify the emergency response expenditures and losses sustained as a result of the severe storms on May 27, 2017.

On Wednesday, TEMA Director Patrick Sheehan requested the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to send two assessment teams to Shelby County and begin the PDA process Saturday, working directly with officials from the Shelby County Office of Preparedness, Memphis Emergency Management, and Memphis Light Gas and Water (MLGW).

"The PDA will officially quantify to federal authorities the magnitude of damage in all of Shelby County, Director Sheehan said.  "Information will be collected on emergency expenditures and sustained losses in the local jurisdictions and the information collected will be used as a basis for Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam to request federal relief assistance."

The PDA teams will specifically be collecting information as the basis to request assistance through the federal Public Assistance program, which reimburses local and state governments, and certain private, nonprofit organizations for emergency work and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities.  

The categories of Public Assistance can include work or repairs for debris removal, emergency protective measures, roads and bridges, water control facilities, buildings and equipment, utilities, and recreational facilities.

Federal law requires damages and impacts in local jurisdictions to meet federally-established per capita loss thresholds, at both the county and state levels.  Under current federal guidelines, Shelby County’s per capita loss threshold is $3.348 million and the state’s loss threshold is $9.074 million. 

Preliminary estimates from the Shelby County Office of Preparedness indicate the impact to the county's electrical infrastructure alone exceeds $11 million.

“We appreciate FEMA’s willingness to assess the storm damage.  The assessment teams will see first-hand the storm recovery challenges before us,” said Shelby County Mayor Mark H. Luttrell Jr.

The PDAs are expected to begin at 9 a.m., CDT, on Saturday and each PDA team will be composed of local, state, and federal representatives. FEMA and TEMA officials will brief teams on damage criteria, the kind of information to collect, and requirements for reporting.

At the height of the severe storms on Saturday in Shelby County, more than 180,000 MLGW customers were without power.  In the storms' aftermath, city and county officials began and intense, coordinated effort to restore power, clear debris, and take care of basic human needs of residents

“We’ll cooperate fully with the damage assessment teams as we all work together to recover from this weekend’s storm,” said City of Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland.

Severe storms began moving across Tennessee on Saturday, May 27, 2017, bringing strong, straight-line winds, hail, and flooding. Beyond Shelby County, the storms caused damage to homes and utilities in 19 other Tennessee counties across middle and east Tennessee, to include Anderson, Blount, Claiborne, Cumberland, DeKalb, Fentress, Grainger, Hamblen, Hancock, Jefferson, Knox, Lawrence, Louden, Morgan, Putnam, Rhea, Roane, Sevier, and Union.

"TEMA will request that FEMA conduct additional PDAs as we collect damage reports from Tennessee's other storm-impacted counties," Sheehan said.  "We want to ensure we have complete and comprehensive information to present to federal officials and represent the entirety of need."

Because many areas in Shelby County remain inaccessible, it will not be possible to estimate the potential in the county for direct federal help to individuals at this time. As local crews clear debris from these areas and they do become accessible, a more complete review of individual needs will be possible for federal assistance consideration. 

More information about FEMA's Public Assistance program is available at https://www.fema.gov/public-assistance-local-state-tribal-and-non-profit

About the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency: TEMA’s mission is to coordinate preparedness, response and recovery from man-made, natural and technological hazards in a professional and efficient manner in concert with our stakeholders. Follow TEMA on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, and, at www.tnema.org.  

Tennessee Emergency Management Agency