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December 5, 2016

TEMA Update on Sevier County Wildfires & Tennessee Tornadoes, 12-5-16, 6 p.m., CST


Summary below on the current wildfire situation in Sevier County and the ongoing damage assessments in counties impacted in last week’s severe weather. This will be our only update this evening. Fatalities remain at (14) from the wildfire and at (4) from the severe weather. Rain chances the next few days pose good news for wildfire control efforts, and for helping with the severe drought conditions in the eastern part of Tennessee. Gatlinburg officials have set a goal for Friday at 7 a.m., EST, to let residents and businesses back into the city on a permanent basis.


HIGHLIGHTS

• Gatlinburg officials say their goal is to let residents, businesses, and property owners back into the city at 7 a.m., EST, on Friday, Dec. 9.

• Gatlinburg continues to facilitate daily access, from 8 a.m., to 5 p.m., EST, for residents and businesses. Local officials estimate the wildfire damaged or destroyed more than 1,500 structures.

• The Tennessee Department of Health has confirmed (14) wildfire fatalities in Sevier County. TEMA has no further information about fatalities.

• Damage assessments continue in counties impacted in last week’s tornado and severe storm outbreak, overnight on Nov. 29. There are no exact estimates of damage currently. There are no reports of power outages in the storm-impacted communities, and no shelter occupants.

• The Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) has confirmed four (4) weather-related fatalities: two (2) fatalities in Polk County, and two (2) fatalities in Meigs County.


SEVIER COUNTY WILDFIRES


CURRENT SITUATION
TEMA’s East Region office in Knoxville, Tenn., and SEOC staff in Nashville, Tenn. continue to support wildfire efforts in Sevier County with emphasis now on the recovery phase of the mission. Tennessee Forestry and multiple federal, state, local, and mutual aid agencies are supporting the wildfire response. Tennessee Army National Guard has dropped more than 885 Bambi buckets of water in support of the wildfire fighting mission in Sevier County. TEMA communications support for Sevier County remains a top priority as crews work in remote areas without communications coverage.


Please visit the Sevier County resource page at http://www.tn.gov/governor/news/sevier-county-resource-page for information on assistance the State of Tennessee and many non-governmental organizations are providing to residents and business, and to those who want to help the wildfire survivors.


In Sevier County, 1,845 people remain without power.


FATALITIES & INJURIES
The Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) has confirmed (14) fatalities in Sevier County from the wildfires. Sevier County officials may be investigating or reporting fatalities in the local jurisdiction not included in the total from TDH in this report. There is no further information available on these fatalities at this time. TDH also reports up to 45 injuries from the Sevier County wildfires.


SHELTERS
There are two Red Cross shelters remain open in Sevier County with 154 total occupants:
• Pigeon Forge Community Center (9)
• Rocky Top Sports World (145)


TORNADO OUTBREAK


CURRENT SITUATION
Damage assessments and debris clearance are ongoing. Storm-impacted counties, include: Bradley, Coffee, Marion, Meigs, McMinn, Polk, and Sequatchie.


The National Weather Services (NWS) confirms five (5) tornadoes impacted Tennessee Nov. 29: Coffee County, two (2) EF1s (105 mph); Marion County, one (1) EF2 (125 mph); McMinn County, one (1) EF2 (135 mph); Polk County, one (1) EF3 (140 mph).


FATALITIES & INJURIES
TDH has confirmed four (4) weather-related fatalities: two (2) fatalities in Polk County, and two (2) fatalities in Meigs County. The severe weather also caused (12) injuries: (11) in McMinn County and (1) in Hamilton County.


DONATIONS, VOLUNTEERS & RESOURCES

• Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam’s Office and numerous State Departments and Agencies have published a resource webpage, at http://www.tn.gov/governor/news/sevier-county-resource-page, for Sevier County residents, businesses, and for those who want to help the wildfire survivors.

• Those who would like to volunteer to help for Sevier County, should sign up with Volunteer East Tennessee https://www.volunteeretn.org/DisasterRecovery. You will be contacted as soon as Sevier County has volunteer operations up-and-running. Please do not show up in Sevier County to volunteer, or deliver donations.

• The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) and Tennessee Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (TN VOAD) have setup a call center, 866-586-4483, staffed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., every day, for information about donating goods and volunteering to help survivors of the Sevier County wildfires.


WEATHER FORECAST


Tuesday
Showers and thunderstorms are possible. Highs near 58 with winds from 5-10 mph. Chance for precipitationis 100%. Shower and thunderstorms will continue through midnight, then a slight chance of showers between midnight and 4am. Mostly cloudy with a low around 40. Northwest winds from 5-10 mph. Chance for precipitation is 40%


Wednesday
Partly sunny, with a high near 51. North wind around 5 mph. Wednesday night will bring a chance of showers between 8pm and 2 am, then a chance of rain after 2 am. Mostly cloudy with lows around 36, with winds from 5-10 mph. Chance for precipitation is 30%


Thursday
A 30% chance of rain, mainly before 2pm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 41. Thursday night will bring a 20% chance of rain before 8pm. Will remain partly cloudy with a low around 21.


Friday
Mostly sunny, with a high near 32. Friday night will be partly cloudy with a low around 19.


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.