Tennessee offering food, financial help to tornado victims

Published 9:57 am Tuesday, March 17, 2020

NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennesseans affected by the massive tornadoes that ripped through the state earlier this month will soon be able to apply for emergency federal benefits.

The Department of Human Services announced that the state will begin accepting applications for “disaster SNAP” benefits for qualified residents of the state. SNAP refers to the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps.

Separately, the state is also accepting applications for one-time cash payments to families significantly impacted by the March 3 storms, that killed 25 people and destroyed hundreds of buildings.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

To qualify for the disaster food stamps, individuals must meet income requirements and can’t already be a current SNAP recipient. Individuals must also prove that they experienced a loss of income due to the storm, damage to residence or place of employment or some other unreimbursed disaster-related expense.

To qualify for the cash assistance, families must have a child under the age 18 or a pregnant woman, as well as have a valid Social Security Number and live in a building or worked for a business that was significantly damaged by the March 3 tornadoes.

Applicants must also provide household income or bank account information.

If approved, cash assistance would range from $500 to $1,000 depending on household size.

The storm that struck during the pre-dawn hours of March 3 spawned 10 tornadoes, the National Weather Service has said. The most deadly of those hit Putnam County, about an hour east of Nashville, where 18 people died and another 88 were injured.

“This is perhaps the most emotional thing I’ve ever had to deal with in this job but I will tell you that this department has been amazing in its response,” said Commissioner Danielle Barnes while speaking in front of lawmakers last week. “We will meet the needs of our citizens and we will meet the needs of citizens who didn’t know we were there for them.”

Applications for both resources are now open and will be until March 24. Those interested can do so at the locations posted on the department’s website.