Governor Bill Haslam has entrusted me with the responsibility to assist local governments and protect our citizens as the interim director of the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency. As Tennessee enters the high-threat storm season this Spring, my focus will be on ensuring the agency continues to provide the excellent service that has made TEMA a nationally respected agency.
While not responding to emergencies, TEMA is involved in preparing the state for future emergencies. In June, the state will culminate a three-year, multi-state exercise called CAPSTONE-14. This 22-state exercise is focused on improving the catastrophic earthquake response within the Central United States Earthquake Consortium (CUSEC) region in support of Presidential Policy Directive 8 (PPD8). CAPSTONE-14 is designed to strengthen partnerships between local, state and federal governments, while engaging public and private sector entities in planning response and recovery from a catastrophic earthquake in the New Madrid Seismic Zone.
The agency continues to close out recovery projects from previous federal disasters, DR-1745, DR-1821, DR-1839, DR-1851, DR-1856. These projects, dating back to 2008, represent recovery and rebuilding projects for many local jurisdictions in the state. TEMA closed more than 1,300 individual recovery projects and more than 150 recovery grants for local governments in 2013.
We cannot predict when the next disaster, man-made or natural, will occur. However, efforts to mitigate the effects of these impacts on lives and property are always underway in our state. To facilitate those projects, TEMA recently completed a major revision of the state’s 600-page Hazard Mitigation Plan. The plan includes new hazard maps, social vulnerability information, National Flood Plain Management data and a 100-year hazard model for every Tennessee county. A 13-member FEMA review committee approved this revised plan in 2013.
The agency remains committed to training first responders and emergency management professionals in Tennessee. In the past year, nearly 8,000 students have completed course that were taught by certified TEMA instructors on subjects such as hazardous materials response, search & rescue, incident management, emergency management and professional development.
While we are planning, training and exercising, the public needs to do its part to safeguard their lives and property from emergencies. Everyone needs to do their part to prepare their families, community and local government. By taking those steps, you can help lessen the impact and help speed the recovery process after an emergency.