Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano toured flood-ravaged Tennessee on Saturday, traveling with state and local officials to see firsthand the devastating effects the deluge of rainfall had on the state last weekend.
"It's important to see with my own eyes what the impacts were but also to see what the recovery efforts are to make sure that ... we are doing everything we can to link up with the quite impressive effort already under way in Tennessee," Napolitano said.
"I think Tennesseans can be assured that everybody is really focused on this and paying attention, and now we've got to work our way through this," she added.
Last weekend's storm system devastated Tennessee and neighboring states, leaving at least 31 people dead across the Southeast, authorities say. Flooding has caused more than $1.5 billion in property damage in the Nashville area alone, city officials said Friday.
Napolitano said that as of Saturday morning, 16,000 people had requested assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and more than $4 million in federal assistance had been approved for individuals.
She urged flood victims to continue reaching out to FEMA for help.