Hurricane Matthew isn’t posing a direct threat to Tennessee, but that doesn’t mean State of Tennessee agencies aren’t engaged in storm response activities.
The Tennessee departments of Health (TDH) and Transportation (TDOT), Tennessee Army National Guard (TANG), Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA), Tennessee Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (TNVOAD) are all analyzing the availability of assets and personnel to send to neighbor states where Hurricane Matthew poses a threat to lives and property.
“TEMA has monitored the track of Hurricane Matthew all week, and as it has made landfall we increased our vigilance and communications both with our neighboring states and with our Tennessee and local government partners,” said TEMA Director Patrick Sheehan. “Though the hurricane is not a direct threat to Tennessee, our state’s emergency resources and personnel have been and could continue to be requested to aid impacted states. With our partner state agencies, local emergency managers, and first responders we are working to make sure we are ready, and in a position to rapidly provide help anywhere there is a need.”
TDH is evaluating the availability of state health personnel to assist Atlantic coastal states in the areas of incident management, epidemiology, nurse support, emergency medical services, and environmental conditions.
“When our neighbors are in trouble, Tennessee volunteers are ready and willing to respond,” said TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. “I am proud of all the teams in Tennessee who quickly recognized the seriousness of this situation and rapidly began to assemble both material and human resources to provide assistance. I’m also grateful for our strong regional communication and emergency management programs and services that are in place to allow a seamless and effective response to a wide array of emergencies. We hope for the best for our friends and neighbors and stand ready to provide additional assistance if needed.”
TANG sent helicopters and crews to South Carolina ahead of Hurricane Matthew’s arrival. One light utility helicopter (LUH-72 Lakota) from Nashville is assisting South Carolina Highway Patrol in evacuation route reconnaissance along major interstates. Two additional crews flying HH-60 Blackhawk helicopters from Knoxville are designated for search and rescue operations.
TDOT is in contact with Georgia and South Carolina, and is on standby to provide assistance with bridge inspection crews and equipment to support the state’s needs.
“In the wake of any kind of emergency, restoring transportation is critical in almost every facet of disaster recovery. Our TDOT bridge inspection crews are ready to mobilize and will assist our partners in Georgia in every way possible,” TDOT Commissioner John Schroer said.
TNVOAD is working with TEMA and Volunteer Tennessee to have volunteers and equipment staged and ready to mobilize if requested.
“We are in contact with our VOAD counterparts and FEMA in the impact states and expect TN to once more demonstrate why Tennessee is known as The Volunteer State when called upon,” TNVOAD State Secretary David Sledge.
The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development is coordinating with Tennessee Hospitality & Tourism Association on room availability for those in the impacted states who are self-evacuating from Hurricane Matthew threatened areas. Tourism is providing this availability information at its Tennessee Welcome Centers.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol and Tennessee Department of Human Services (DHS) are evaluating resources and personnel who could be deployed for public safety needs, or for any needs in Tennessee in the areas of human care and sheltering. DHS worked with the American Red Cross to place one shelter in Tennessee on standby if it is needed. The shelter is located at Tri-Cities Baptist Church in Gray, Tenn., and does not have any occupants currently.
The Tennessee Fire Marshal’s Office, a division of the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance, has been assessing and evaluating local resources through the state’s Fire Mutual Aid System should any of the hurricane-impacted states need search and rescue teams or other aid assistance.
TEMA will coordinate any deployments of state resources or personnel to impacted states through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), which is a national, interstate mutual aid agreement enabling states to share resources during times of disaster.
The last EMAC deployment from Tennessee occurred in September 2016 when an 11-member team of deputy state fire marshals deployed to Louisiana to help with building inspections and permitting after record rainfall caused massive flooding.
About the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency: TEMA’s mission is to coordinate preparedness, response and recovery from man-made, natural and technological hazards in a professional and efficient manner in concert with our stakeholders. Follow TEMA on Facebook, TNDisasterInfo, on Twitter, @T_E_M_A, and at www.tnema.org.