Current Activation Status is: Level 3 – State of Emergency

State-Level Emergency Declarations in Tennessee


The Governor or the Governor’s designee under TCA 58-2-107 may declare a state of emergency by executive order or proclamation, or by activation of the Tennessee Emergency Management Plan (TEMP). This law allows the Governor to assume direct operational control over all or any part of the emergency management functions within the state.

The TEMP is a signed executive order of the Governor. TEMA is charged by state law TCA 58-2-106 to prepare and maintain the TEMP. Under the TEMP, a state of emergency automatically occurs when the Activation Level is Level 3 or above.

A state of emergency expires when either 60 days has elapsed or when the Activation Level returns to Level 5.

What Do Activation Levels Mean?

Activation levels are established to assist the emergency management leadership and the public to understand the initial and current size of the emergency.

The State Emergency Operations Center is staffed to the minimum size required to provide adequate support of an emergency. As an emergency grows or diminishes, the staffing of the SEOC will be adjusted to meet changing conditions.

  • Level 5 – Normal Operation
    No state declaration of emergency exists at this level. TEMA is handling routine issues with normal staffing.
  • Level 4 – Elevated (or State of Emergency)
    When there is a potential or likelihood of an emergency developing or worsening, TEMA may augment staffing for the 24-hour watch staff in the Operations Center to perform more frequent monitoring of a situation. This level also may represent a period at the end of an emergency, when waivers of law are still required for response or recovery activities.
  • Level 3 – State of Emergency
    At this level, a serious emergency or minor disaster has occurred or a situation is deteriorating rapidly and public warnings are being issued. The Tennessee Emergency Management Plan (TEMP) is activated and a state of emergency is automatically declared per TCA 58-2-107. Key or specifically needed emergency service coordinators for state departments are recalled to duty the State’s Emergency Operations Center.
  • Level 2 – Major Disaster
    This level describes an event that will likely exceed local capabilities and require a broad range of state or federal assistance, as defined in TCA 58-2-101. TEMA’s full staff and most of the emergency support functions outlined in the TEMP have been activated for 24-hour continuous operation.
  • Level 1 – Catastrophic Disaster
    This level describes an event that will require massive state or federal assistance, including immediate military involvement, as defined in TCA 58-2-101. TEMA’s full staff and all of the emergency support functions outlined in the TEMP have been activated for 24-hour continuous operation.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee is asking Tennesseans today to follow the instructions of emergency officials and stay on alert due to rising flood waters and the potential for more severe weather this afternoon.

“Our departments and agencies are monitoring the ongoing weather developments in our state and they are coordinating to be fully prepared,” Lee said.

The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) is working with state and local officials through the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) in Nashville to monitor the weather situation, stay in contact with key information sources such as the National Weather Service (NWS), and U.S. Army Corp. of Engineers (USACE), and address any local need requests.

In response to the flooding and severe weather potential, this afternoon TEMA activated the Tennessee Emergency Management Plan and put a State of Emergency in Place in Tennessee.

Governor Lee was attending meetings in Washington, DC this weekend connected with the National Governor’s Association, and he is cutting his trip short and coming home this afternoon to better monitor the situation.

Besides TEMA staff, SEOC personnel include Emergency Service Coordinators from the Tennessee departments of Agriculture, Commerce and Insurance, Environment and Conservation (TDEC), Health, Human Services, Military, Safety, and Transportation, along with representatives from the American Red Cross and State Fire Marshall’s Office.

“Everyone should pay close attention to weather forecasts today and have multiple ways to receive weather watches and warnings,” said TEMA Director Patrick Sheehan. “Those who may have experienced any storm or flooding damage already should contact their county emergency management agencies to report issues, contact their insurance agencies, and keep track of any repairs they make.”

Other flooding response preparations are being made, including:

• The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is coordinating among state, local, and industry resources to identify immediate emergency agricultural and livestock needs and will work with the USDA to assess farm damages in the coming weeks.

• The Tennessee National Guard has readied aviation and boat resources for response and has sandbagging equipment and troops and airmen available to help if needed.

• The Fire Marshall’s Office and the Tennessee Fire Chiefs Mutual Aid System are coordinating potential mutual aid requests and readying swift-water rescue teams for potential deployment.

• TDEC is communicating with water and wastewater systems to ensure infrastructure is not impacted or damaged.

• USACE and the Tennessee Valley Authority are communicating the status of their dam projects and storage and flows along the rivers and tributaries to TEMA, and USACE Nashville has activated their flood monitoring unit and is actively working to ensure the best balance for safeguarding infrastructure, property and materials.

A cold front is already making its way through west Tennessee today and will bring with it the chance for thunderstorms, damaging winds, and the possibility of tornadoes. Flooding will continue to pose a threat as Flood Warnings remain in place across Tennessee through the weekend. An additional concern will be the toppling of trees due to wind and saturated soil.

About the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency: TEMA’s mission is to coordinate preparedness, response and recovery from man-made, natural and technological hazards in a professional and efficient manner in concert with our stakeholders. Follow TEMA on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, and, at

About ReadyTN: ReadyTN is a mobile device application from the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) providing emergency preparedness, response, and recovery information to Tennesseans. Ready TN is available for mobile devices running Apple and Android operating systems. For more information on ReadyTN’s features and on downloading, visit

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By Voices of East Tennessee

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