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

Activation:  LEVEL 3 – STATE OF EMERGENCY

HIGHLIGHTS

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.

TORNADO OUTBREAK

CURRENT SITUATION: Damage assessments are ongoing in several Tennessee counties from the overnight severe storms on Thursday, Nov. 30.  Counties impacted by the severe weather include:  Bedford, Bradley, Coffee, Franklin, Marion, Monroe, McMinn, Polk, and Sequatchie.  There are no preliminary damage assessment totals at this time.

The National Weather Service (NWS) says an EF1 tornado touched down in Coffee County with winds around 105 mph.  NWS also says and EF2 tornado, with winds from 111 to 135 mph, touched down in McMinn County. Additional NWS storm surveys are ongoing.

The Tennessee Department of Health (TDOH) has confirmed two fatalities (husband and wife) in Polk County from the severe weather outbreak.  TDOH also reports 12 injuries – 11 in McMinn County and 1 in Hamilton County.

Approximately 7,139 people across multiple counties are without power from the storms.

TEMA has deployed a District Coordinator to the McMinn County command post to support the local emergency management agency.  The Tennessee Highway Patrol, Tennessee State Parks, and Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency are assisting with welfare checks in Polk County. THP is also assisting with welfare checks in McMinn County.

SEVIER COUNTY WILDFIRES

CURRENT SITUATION: Rain this morning and today provided some relief in wildfire outbreaks in Sevier County.  Gatlinburg reports all wildfires out, though some are still smoldering.  Gatlinburg remains under a mandatory evacuation order and a curfew will be in place tonight from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., Eastern. Pigeon Forge reported no new outbreaks today.

The total size of the wildfire impact, on acreage and on structures, in Sevier County is still being assessed.

In Sevier County, 8,476 people remain without power.

A temporary flight restriction remains in place to prevent aircraft from complicating the response.

FATALITIES & INJURIES

The Tennessee Department of Health (TDOH) has confirmed 7 fatalities in Sevier County from the wildfires.  There is no further information available on these fatalities at this time. TDOH also reports up to 45 injuries from the Sevier County wildfires.

SHELTERS

There are two Red Cross shelters remain open in Sevier County with 196 total occupants:

Pigeon Forge Community Center (4)

Rocky Top Sports World (192)

DONATION & VOLUNTEER CALL CENTER

The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) and Tennessee Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (TN VOAD) have setup a call center for information about donating goods and volunteering to help survivors of the Sevier County wildfires.

The call center number is 866-586-4483 and is staffed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., every day of the week.

Sevier County residents can use the American Red Cross’s Safe and Well website, https://safeandwell.communityos.org/cms/index.php, to indicate their status so family members and friends know they are OK.

Residents can also use Facebook’s Safety Check to indicate their status:  https://www.facebook.com/about/safetycheck/

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Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.
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