• A Level III – State of Emergency (in place since Nov. 10, 2016) remains in effect as Sevier County begins a path to recovery, tornado damage is six counties is still under assessment, and areas of Tennessee continue to experience extreme drought conditions.
• Damage assessment ongoing with Sevier County officials.
• Damage assessments also are being compiled in counties reporting from the severe overnight storms and tornadoes on Nov. 29, 2016.
• Gatlinburg officials expect to welcome public back into the city Friday.
• Even with the recent rains, there remains extreme drought conditions, and threat of wildfires, in some areas of Tennessee.
SEVIER COUNTY RECOVERY INFORMATION
TEMA’s East Region office in Knoxville and State Emergency Operations Center staff in Nashville are supporting recovery efforts in Sevier County, with emphasis now on the recovery phase of the mission, and projects to conduct a thorough damage assessment from the wildfire and support local officials with resource requests.
Gatlinburg allowed property owners, business owners, renters and lease holders back into the city on Wed., Dec. 7, 2016. A curfew will be in effect tonight from 10 p.m., EST, until 6 a.m. EST, Friday.
At 7 a.m., EST, the City of Gatlinburg plans to re-open to the general public. Major roadways should be open but some city roads may be closed for utility work.
Also, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park also is working to re-open park roadways on Friday. US 441, Newfound Gap Road, will open from the Gatlinburg Entrance to Cherokee, NC and Little River Road will be open from Sugarlands Visitor Center to the Wye near Townsend, TN. The Gatlinburg Bypass and Cherokee Orchard Road will remain closed as will all trails within the fire area. The Spur, between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, will be open to the public tomorrow.
Fire management teams continue to work the Chimney Tops 2 fire, at 17,006 acres, and the Cobbly Nob fire at 819 acres. Containment is 82 percent on Chimney Tops 2 and to 89 percent on Cobbly Nob. Some heat still exists within the fire perimeter and smoke may be visible from these areas from time to time. Firefighters will continue to patrol and mop up any hot spots that may be a threat to the containment lines or structures. The area will continue to be monitored and patrolled.
TEMA continues working with Sevier County officials to conduct a thorough damage assessment. County officials estimate the wildfire damaged or destroyed more than 2,460 structures.
The American Red Cross continues its shelter mission in Sevier County with 93 occupants at its Rocky Top Sports Park shelter and 19 occupants at the Pigeon Forge Community Center.
Just around 780 people remain without power in Sevier County with crews working continuously to restore.
SEVIER COUNTY RESOURCES
• A joint press release on Wednesday provides information resources to returning Gatlinburg residents on what they may encounter upon returning to their property permanently. The release is at: http://www.tnema.org/news/tema/?p=2789.
• Sevier County has launched an official recovery website, www.mountaintough.org and a hotline to serve as a single resource for information related to the recent wildfires in Sevier County. The hotline number for local residents is 2-1-1 and 865-215-4211 for callers outside the local area. The call center is open Monday – Friday 7:00am to 6:00pm.
• The State of Tennessee also maintains a 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.
• The State Office of Vital Records will have representatives on location at the Big Red Barn and Rocky Top shelter through Friday December 9, 2016 from 9:00 AM ET- site closing to issue birth, death, marriage and divorce records for events that occurred in TN at no charge. Driver’s license, passport, or any other documents available may be presented for identification; however, if none is available an attestation statement may be signed by the requestor. Certified copies will be issued onsite. People may also call 855-809-0072 for assistance. Plans are also in place for onsite assistance two days next week. https://www.tn.gov/health/article/vr-certificate#sthash.cbPmgwI7.dpuf
• The Tennessee Department of Health is now providing free testing of home wells and similar water sources for some Gatlinburg-area residents who have been directly impacted by the drought and wildfires. Testing will occur in phases to accommodate most urgent needs first. Phase one will be for those persons returning to homes in the next few weeks that have a functioning well. Phase two will be for those whose homes and property suffered more severe damage, with structures requiring more extensive repair/restoration before they can be habitable. Information about testing eligibility may be obtained by calling the Tennessee Department of Health toll-free 866-327-9105 or sending an email to email@example.com.