Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed an executive order Thursday enabling further recovery efforts and beginning the process of declaring a federal disaster in response to February's record rainfall that caused damage statewide.
"As waters recede and we are now able to fully review the extent of flooding damage across our state, I signed an executive order as a key step in working with the federal government for further recovery efforts," reads a statement from Lee. "We thank the first responders who are working diligently to keep citizens safe and deliver services."
So far, 83 counties have reported damage. The Department of Agriculture, Department of Transportation and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) have been coordinating with local authorities to collect the necessary data for further recovery efforts.
The governor's executive order suspends certain laws to enable smoother delivery of health care, insurance, relief supplies and personnel, and other recovery components. The order is retroactively effective to Feb. 6, when the flooding and severe weather began, to ensure that it covers all relief efforts, and it will remain in effect through April 7.
The order also will help facilitate the repair of the more than 232 locations on Tennessee state and federal highways damaged by the flooding, with more areas likely to be identified as floodwaters recede.
The order also sets the stage to request funding and other resources from the federal government.
Heavy rains here dumped more than 10 inches across the Chattanooga area over a 10-day period in February, and while most of the region was spared major flooding, it did create some headaches.
A landslide destroyed the Subway restaurant on Signal Mountain Road on Feb. 23. No one was injured. And dozens of roads across the area were forced to close.
Lee was scheduled to survey damages in Hardin County and surrounding areas on Friday.