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State of Emergency Levels Explained

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NASHVILLE, Tenn.-- With a Level III State of Emergency declared for Tennessee, many are asking 'What is a Level III' and 'What does it mean?' 
The following are how the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency define the different levels. Level I being the worst and V the lowest.


Level 5 - Normal OperationNo state declaration of emergency exists at this level. TEMA Operations and Communications Branch is in a normal duty status.


Level 4 - Elevated (or State of Emergency Continues)This level may be declared when there is a potential or likelihood of an emergency developing or worsening. The decision to augment the Operations watch-point staff establishes this level of activation. TEMA Operations and Communications Branch performs more frequent monitoring. This level also may represent a period of decreased staffing at the end of an emergency. This status also describes an administratively-continued emergency period remaining from the Governor's declaration of emergency or proclamation (no longer than 60 days without extension) when waivers of law are still required for response or recovery.


Level 3 - Declaration of State EmergencyThis level describes an event or period when a serious emergency has occurred or the situation is deteriorating rapidly, and public warnings are being issued. The Tennessee Emergency Management Plan (TEMP) and the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) are activated at this level in accordance with TCA 58-2-107(b)(2), and this action by law declares a state of emergency. Only key or specifically needed emergency service coordinators are called to duty.


Level 2 - Major DisasterA major disaster as defined by TCA 58-2-101 as an event that will likely exceed local capabilities and require a broad range of state and federal assistance. The TEMP and the SEOC are activated in accordance with TCA 58-2-107(b)(2), and a decision by the Governor or his representative (Director of TEMA) declares a state of emergency. The full staff or most of the staff of the SEOC is activated, typically in a 24-hour continuous operation. This disaster may meet eligibility requirements for a federal disaster declaration under the provisions of the Stafford Act.


Level 1 - Catastrophic Disaster The Governor or his representative (Director of TEMA) may declare a state of emergency when a catastrophe occurs or may potentially occur. TCA 58-2-101 defines this level as including immediate military involvement in addition to the other requirements found in Level 2. The disaster would be one of great magnitude, and deaths will probably have occurred or the potential is very high. Under the TEMP the full staff of the SEOC would be activated.







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