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Tennessee Prepares for Laura

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Carlos J. Castillo, CEM, Tidal Basin Group’s Chief Development Officer and former FEMA Acting Deputy Administrator for Resilience, was interviewed along with Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) Director Patrick Sheehan on Nashville’s WKRN TV on August 26, to provide updates on how FEMA and Tennessee both prepare for a response to multiple disasters as Hurricane Laura made its landfall and tracked to impact Tennessee late in the week. “We are looking right now at some potential requests to help with swift water rescue assets and technical rescue,” said the TEMA Director.  

Sheehan said his agency planned to provide resources and protective equipment for their teams responding to the disaster. “One of the things that we are making sure we are accounting for is being able to send them with personal protection equipment…to provide them a level of protection a step beyond what we would normally provide them for a level of safety,” said Sheehan.

Castillo shared how FEMA revised its response plans to account for the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure its responders would be safe when interacting with storm survivors and other responders. “FEMA made it a point to be ready…and knew it needed to take care of its people…So they followed all of the CDC guidelines both in normal business and in emergencies,” said Castillo. In his previous role as FEMA’s Acting Deputy Administrator for Resilience, Castillo supported the development of the agency’s COVID-19 plans for responding to disasters during the pandemic. FEMA has responded to several recent major disasters including the California wildfires and the Iowa severe storm outbreak in early August.

Tennessee continues its recovery from severe weather earlier this Spring including a significant tornado outbreak in early March 2020. Nearly a dozen tornadoes killed 25 and injured over 300.  The most destructive tornado reached EF-4 intensity on the National Weather Service’s scale for rating damage potential with winds estimated between 160 to 200 miles per hour. The EF-4 severely damaged the towns of Cookeville and Baxter in Putnam County east of Nashville killing 19 and injuring 87.

Tidal Basin Group is a proud partner of TEMA and is supporting the agency’s recovery activities from the Spring 2020 storms, COVID-19, and two previous disasters in 2019. The Tidal Basin team is supporting various public assistance activities including:

  • Augmenting existing staff to add depth to the State’s existing recovery capability
  • Participating in weekly follow-up and recovery transition meetings
  • Providing applicants with tutorials in FEMA Portal usage and overall FEMA Public Assistance (PA) program guidance
  • Reviewing projects and documentation for accuracy as they are being entered into the Portal by the Program Delivery Manager (PDMG) and Consolidated Resource Centers (CRC)
  • Maximizing early identification of eligibility issues so they can be addressed before Determination Memos are written and appeals are required