Haslam suspends health care, insurance, contracting laws in fire & storm areas

News release from the governor’s office

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today issued Executive Order No. 61 suspending certain state laws in order to ensure wildfire and severe weather disaster survivors have access to important health care services, consumer rights protections, and availability of state services as they recover.

“The citizens affected by the wildfires and severe storms have already been through so much, we want to make it easier for them to receive the care and services they need as they begin to pick up the pieces and rebuild their lives,” Haslam said. “The state is doing and will continue to do everything we can to support the victims and survivors of these devastating disasters.”

The executive order includes the following provisions:

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TEMA Thursday update on wildfires, tornadoes

Here is the Thursday morning update from the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency on Sevier County wildfires and the tornado outbreak in Southeast Tennessee.

Sevier County Wildfire

Tennessee Tornado Outbreak

December 1, 2016 – 10 a.m., Central



TEMA and TN VOAD set up call center, 866-586-4483, for information on donations and volunteering.

Weather-related fatalities remain at two (2) confirmed in Polk County.

Wildfire fatalities in Sevier County remain at seven (7) confirmed.

Five (5) confirmed tornados in Tennessee from the severe weather overnight on Nov. 29.

Damage assessments and debris clearance continues for severe-weather impacted counties.

Tennessee continues to experience other wildfire threats and drought conditions, even with the recent heavy rains.

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TEMA: Seven deaths now reported in Sevier County fires, two in Polk County storm

Here’s the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency’s latest update on wildfires in Sevier County and storms in Southeast Tennessee.

November 30, 2016 – 5 p.m., Central



Tennessee Department of Health confirms 7 fatalities from the wildfires in Sevier County.

There are 2 fatalities in Polk County that are storm-related.

TEMA and TN VOAD set up call center, 866-586-4483, for information on donations and volunteering.

National Weather Service confirms two tornado touchdowns: EF1 in Coffee County and an EF2 in McMinn County.

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TEMA update on wildfires, tornadoes at 11 a.m. CST Wednesday

News release from Tennessee Emergency Management Agency


At least eight counties in Tennessee experienced a severe weather outbreak overnight, with weather spotters reporting tornado touchdowns.  This morning, local officials are conducting damage assessments, weather permitting.  The National Weather Service, weather permitting, will conduct surveys of the severe weather impact in the counties to confirm tornado touchdowns.  The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) has deployed district coordinators to assist local officials in Coffee and Polk counties.

The Tennessee Department of Health (TDOH) has confirmed two fatalities (husband and wife) in Polk County from the severe weather outbreak.  TDOH also reports injuries in Polk County, Marion County, and McMinn County.  Details below in county-by-county rundown.

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TN politician commentary on Sevier County fires

Tennessee politicians are voicing concern over the fires that have ravaged Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and other parts of Sevier County. Here’s a sampler from emails sent to media:

From U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander:

“This is heartbreaking news for the people of Sevier County and all who love the Smokies. My staff and I are working with Gov. Haslam and local officials to make certain that there is maximum federal support to help fight the fires and deal with the consequences of the fires.”

From U.S. Sen. Bob Corker’s news release:

“I am heartbroken to see the damage caused by the ongoing fires in Sevier County,” said Corker. “While the full extent of the damage will become clear over the course of the day, we know that many have suffered tremendous loss.”

 “Sevier County is a special place surrounded by some of the country’s most beautiful God-given amenities and is where my wife, Elizabeth, was raised,” continued Corker. “So many wonderful families call this place home and millions from around the world visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park each year. We are committed to doing all we can in the coming weeks to help these communities rebuild.” 

“Members of my senior staff have been and will remain in close contact with community, state and local officials, and we continue to extend our thoughts and prayers to all those who have been in harm’s way,” concluded Corker.

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Sevier fire update from AP, TEMA: Three dead, others missing, National Guard helps firemen

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (AP) — Wildfires fueled by high winds killed three people near the Great Smoky Mountains and authorities went door to door Tuesday to check on the well-being of residents and visitors of the popular tourist area.

The fires burned to the doorstep of the Dollywood theme park, destroyed a resort and chased thousands of people from their homes.

National Guard troops arrived to help overwhelmed firefighters, and Mother Nature provided a little relief as the winds calmed and rain fell in some areas. Forecasters said it would not be enough to end the relentless drought that has spread across the South and set the stage over the past few weeks for wildfires in Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina.

Linda Monholland, who was working at Park View Inn in Gatlinburg, said it was about 9 p.m. Monday when she left her workplace with about five other people. Surrounded by flames the whole way, they walked for about 20 minutes to a trolley to evacuate.

“There was fire everywhere. It was like we were in hell. Hell opened up,” said Monholland, who was staying Tuesday at Rocky Top Sports World, an 80-acre sports facility that has been turned into a shelter. “Walking through hell, that’s what it was. I can’t believe it. I never want to see something like that again in my life, ever.”

Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters confirmed the deaths but said he didn’t have any additional details. Officials were still conducting search-and-rescue missions.

“We have not been able to get in all of the areas,” Gatlinburg Fire Chief Greg Miller said. “We pray that we don’t experience any more fatalities but there are still areas that we are trying to get to because of down trees and down power lines.”

Photos of the popular tourist area showed scorched cars and buildings, and soot-covered debris littered across roads in the Gatlinburg area. A smoky haze hung in the air, obscuring picturesque views of mountains in the fall, awash in trees with leaves of red, yellow and gold.

Firefighters were still battling hotspots and a few structural fires, and officials were keeping an eye on strong winds forecast for Tuesday night.

Full AP story HERE. 

A Tennessee Emergency Management Agency update is below.

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Governor bans open fires in 51 counties

News release from the governor’s office

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today issued a proclamation declaring a regional ban on burning in 51 counties in response to the ongoing drought and destructive wildfires throughout Middle and East Tennessee.
Effective immediately, residents in counties covered by the regional ban are not permitted to conduct any open-air burning. The ban includes campfires, and burning of brush, vegetation, household waste or construction debris. The ban will remain in effect until December 15. The counties under the ban are listed below.

Currently the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) Division of Forestry is fighting 67 wildfires across nearly 16,000 acres in the Cumberland and East Tennessee districts.

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Drought, wildfires prompt TEMA to declare state of emergency

News release from Tennessee Emergency Management Agency

This evening the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) activated the Tennessee Emergency Management Plan (TEMP) in response to the drought and wildfire impacts, and continued threat, in the State.
There is now a Level 3 – State of Emergency in place for Tennessee, as of 7 p.m., Central, on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016.
Statement from TEMA Director Patrick Sheehan

“Approximately 302 of Tennessee’s 480 water systems are experiencing some level of drought impact, ranging from moderate to exceptional. At least three counties have requested water for residents whose wells have run completely dry of water.

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