FEMA tours winter storm damage in Cumberland County

CROSSVILLE (WATE) – Crews with TEMA and FEMA were touring East Tennessee Monday, looking at some of the hardest hit areas from last month’s winter storms. The winter weather left behind a trail of debris, downed trees and power lines, all taking a toll on everyone in the county.

Chris Singer has a pile of branches that keeps on getting taller in his backyard.

“Trying to clear out the yard and fields a little bit. Trying to burn some brush, get everything situated,” he said.

That mess is just one of many in Cumberland County. Homeowners are dealing with snapped trees and more.

“The whole picture here is we need some help,” said Cumberland County Road Superintendent Scott Blaylock.

Chris Singer has a pile of branches that keeps on getting taller in his backyard.
Chris Singer has a pile of branches that keeps on getting taller in his backyard.

When snow and ice hit, highway crews were working both day and night shifts with their top priority clearing the roads. The winter storm has swept away a big chunk of the department’s budget.

“From February 16 to today, we’ve exceeded well over $50,000 just in labor. And when we do our budget, you don’t set up for something like that. But in a time of need if you have to work it, you’re going to work it,” said Blaylock.

To help with the sky high costs of clean up, FEMA and TEMA are touring, getting a firsthand look at just how bad things are and why their funding would be like a lifeline.

“The whole county has got damage. And for the highway department to try and clean it up it would take a year and a half,” added Blaylock.

As a backup, the highway department may have to ask county leaders to find funding.

Some homeowners, like Singer, can still find a silver lining as he looks at the work in progress.

“Hopefully I’ll have some good firewood,” he said.

A final decision on whether Cumberland County will receive funding will be made in the following weeks.

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