JOHNSON CITY (June 11, 2018) – East Tennessee State University, in partnership with Sevier County, Tennessee, received a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) to develop a new hazard mitigation plan for Sevier County, including the towns of Gatlinburg, Sevierville and Pigeon Forge.
“All states and counties are required to have hazard mitigation plans, and it’s time for Sevier County to update theirs,” said Andrew Worley, ETSU emergency management specialist. “These plans are vital for identifying strategies for counties that, when faced with a catastrophic event or disaster, could reduce the loss of lives or property. Reflecting on the 2016 wildfires in Sevier County, we believe this partnership will improve the jurisdiction’s hazard profiling, which could result in better mitigation efforts for such disasters.”
Worley said the mitigation plan would assess Sevier County’s level of susceptibility to such disasters as flooding, wildfires and tornadoes, and would include steps for lessening their effect, particularly in areas with greater risks and vulnerabilities.
The grant has been awarded to Sevier County and includes the partnership with Worley and Dr. Andrew Joyner, an assistant professor in the ETSU Department of Geosciences.
For the plan, the team will use Geographic Information System (GIS) technology to develop interactive/mobile web map services, extensive geospatial databases and spatial economic loss models that will assess county infrastructure and population vulnerability.
“Developing dynamic GIS products will give Sevier County the tools they need to take mitigation actions now that will reduce their exposure to future hazards,” Joyner added. “This also presents an incredible partnership opportunity between ETSU, Sevier County and TEMA as ETSU positions itself as the ‘go-to’ resource for hazard mitigation planning across eastern Tennessee.”
The $135,000 grant will provide funding for students and staff in the Geoinformatics and Disaster Science Lab within the Department of Geosciences. The grant and plan development are scheduled for two years.