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

News release from Tennessee Emergency Management Agency

CURRENT SITUATION

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.

Bedford, Bradley Coffee, Franklin, and Sequatchie counties all report structural damage and some power lines downed, no reports of injuries or fatalities.

Marion County:  3 injured and transported. Command post set up at Frank Tate Road, Hwy. 283.  Reports of multiple collapsed structures, downed trees and power lines.

Monroe County:  Providing ambulance and fire assistance to McMinn County to assist.

McMinn County:  Deerfield Estates Community (Athens) on SR 307 has severe damage and crews have accessed the area. Reports of multiple injuries, up to 23 persons, and structural damage to homes. Hamilton County has sent a search and team to McMinn to assist.

Polk County: Significant damage, including a U.S. Post Office.

TEMA is supporting the severe weather situation out of the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) in Nashville and its East Region Coordination Center in Knoxville.

SEVIER COUNTY WILDFIRES

CURRENT SITUATION

Overnight, Pigeon Forge reported no new fire outbreaks and officials there lifted the mandatory evacuation order.

Gatlinburg had more fire outbreaks overnight and rain began falling in the area early this morning.  Gatlinburg is still under a mandatory evacuation order and officials are asking evacuees to not try to get back into the city.  Officials will announce when they are ready to let residents return.

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

Numerous roads remain closed and blocked by fallen trees and power lines.  State Hwy. 441 heading into Gatlinburg is closed, except for emergency traffic.  State Hwy. 441 leaving Gatlinburg is open to evacuating traffic.

FATALITIES & INJURIES

Sevier County officials report 14 injuries and three fatalities. There is no other information available at this time.

SHELTERS

There are three Red Cross shelters remain open in Sevier County with 215 total occupants:

  • LeConte Center at Pigeon Forge (19)
  • Pigeon Forge Community Center (4)
  • Rocky Top Sports World (192)

DONATION INFORMATION FOR SEVIER COUNTY

  • Cash donations can be made through the American Red Cross at redcross.org/donate, or by calling call 1-800-RED CROSS, or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a donation.
  • New Hope Church of God at 2450 Winfield Dunn Parkway in Sevierville is collecting donations also. Contact number is 865-932-4673, staffed 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Eastern.
  • Gatlinburg officials are asking volunteers not to self-deploy to Sevier County to assist.  Local and state officials are currently working on a process to manage volunteers and will provide more information when it is available.

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.

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