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Thousands of Flood Victims receive disaster food and cash assistance

DHS Office of Inspector General working to fight Flood Fraud 

Nashville, TN  – Thousands of Tennesseans from 45 disaster-designated counties received millions of dollars in food and cash assistance from May 13th through May 28th.  The DHS-administered programs have helped put food on the table of more than 9,600 families who were not previously enrolled in the Food Stamp (now called SNAP) program.  Nearly $4.4 million in Disaster SNAP benefits were distributed to these families.  In addition, more than 5,400 families already enrolled in the program received replacement benefits for food that was lost due to power outages or flood damage.  An additional 6,700 families were granted Disaster Supplemental SNAP benefits because of storm damage to their residences.  More than $1.4 million was issued to these households.

DHS also administered a cash assistance program for eligible citizens who sustained flood damage to their homes.   More than 12,500 families qualified for the $250.00 and $500.00 payments.  Just under $5 million in disaster cash benefits were issued.

“Our goal with these programs was to help people in need as quickly as possible,” said DHS Commissioner Gina Lodge.  “Demand for the food and cash benefits at many of our offices was great. Lines were long, but our staff—many of whom suffered flood and storm damage themselves—worked tirelessly to help others in need.”

While DHS employees in the county offices interviewed thousands of victims and issued benefits to needy Tennesseans, the DHS Office of Inspector General sent out investigators to uncover fraud and abuse in the program.  Four Davidson County residents have been arrested and charged with fraud.

“Most of the people who applied for assistance are honest, hard-working citizens,” said DHS Inspector General Alan Hall.  “However, we know that there are a small number of individuals who will look for an opportunity to cheat the system.  We are working with law enforcement and district attorneys’ offices across the state to make sure that they are arrested and prosecuted.” 

The OIG relies on numerous investigatory techniques to detect fraud.  Tips from the public are also key to stopping abuse.  The number to call to report suspected fraud is 1-800-241-2629.

Citizens in the following counties were eligible for the disaster assistance: Benton, Cannon, Carroll, Cheatham, Crockett, Davidson, Decatur, Dickson, Dyer, Fayette, Gibson, Giles, Hardeman, Haywood, Henderson, Hickman, Houston, Humphreys, Madison, Marshall, Maury, McNairy, Montgomery, Obion, Perry, Robertson, Rutherford, Shelby, Smith, Sumner, Tipton, Williamson and Wilson.

For more information on DHS and its programs, visit www.tn.gov/humanserv.


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