Haslam: Find out what happened with failure of wildfire notification system

Gov.  Bill Haslam’s response Monday to reporter questions on reports that Sevier County officials failed to alert people about the need to evacuate prior to the wildfires last week that killed 14 people and left thousands homeless in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, as reported in the News Sentinel:

“We talked a little bit about that this morning in terms of when the notice went out, what happened, how much was impacted by cell towers going down (and) how much was impacted by people who had phones that weren’t capable of receiving the messages,” Haslam said… “So I think that’s what you’ll see both the local emergency management people and our folks saying is, ‘What happened, and how can we make certain that in the future that everybody gets the notification that they need?’ “

Haslam stopped short of saying he thought officials waited too long to attempt to send out an evacuation alert.

“Don’t lose the fact that a lot of people have done incredible work,” he said. “… I wasn’t at their command center, so I don’t know how they made those decisions, but this was a pretty unprecedented storm, and a lot of things had to come together in a wrong way to make this happen. … We will take the time and local officials will, too, to go back and say what we could have done better.”

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