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Bush declares Tennessee a disaster area

Clarksville, Tennessee, was one of the communities hit hard by the storms.
Clarksville, Tennessee, was one of the communities hit hard by the storms.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush declared parts of Tennessee a major disaster area Wednesday after weekend storms and tornadoes left 17 people dead and dozens injured in the state, federal emergency officials said.

The declaration clears the way for federal disaster funds to be sent to Tennessee for storm recovery needs.

"President Bush has made this declaration so Tennessee can get back on their feet and go on with their lives as quickly as possible," said Joe Allbaugh, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Residents and business owners in 16 counties can now apply for the federal aid. The counties include Morgan, where eight people died; Cumberland, where four died; Montgomery and Carroll, with two deaths each; and Carroll, where one person died.

The National Weather Service determined 13 tornadoes touched down in Tennessee over the weekend, said Kurt Pickering, a spokesman for the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.

The tornado that hit the Morgan County hamlet of Mossy Grove, which suffered some of the state's worst damage, was classified F3, Pickering said. F3 twisters typically have winds between 158 and 206 mph and cause severe damage.

In Mossy Grove, the tornado plowed through an area about a mile wide by a mile long Sunday night. Officials said as many as 40 percent of the structures in the Mossy Grove-Joyner area were damaged or destroyed.

Allbaugh said FEMA is continuing to assess the damage, so it is possible more counties may be added to the disaster declaration list.

Those living in disaster areas may obtain more information from FEMA at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).

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