Press Releases

Haslam Names Purkey TEMA Director

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam; August 29, 2014:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced the appointment of David W. Purkey as a deputy commissioner of the Military Department where he will direct the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA).

Purkey has served as interim director of TEMA since the April retirement of Jim Bassham. He will also continue to serve as the governor’s Homeland Security advisor and assistant commissioner for the Department of Safety and Homeland Security.

“David has extensive experience in emergency management and safety, and he knows how critical it is for state and local governments to cooperate during emergencies,” Haslam said. “I appreciate his continued dedication and willingness to serve his fellow Tennesseans.”

Purkey is a native of Hamblen County and graduated from East Tennessee State University in 1981 with a bachelor’s in Public Health. He earned a master’s in Public Health in 1987 from the University of Tennessee.

“Governor Haslam, Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons, and Major General Max Haston have placed a great amount of trust and confidence in my abilities to lead public safety operations across our state,” Purkey said. “The Military Department as well as the Department of Safety and Homeland Security have accepted me as a member of their teams, and I promise my colleagues and local governments that I will not forget where I came from.”

In 1995, Purkey was appointed to the vacancy of Hamblen County mayor and was elected four times before voluntarily retiring in 2010.

He first entered government as a judicial assistant to his mentor, Judge James K. Miller. He has served as a 9-1-1 dispatcher; Morristown – Hamblen County Emergency Management director; Tennessee state trooper assigned to the Nashville and Fall Branch districts; Tennessee Bureau of Investigation special agent assigned to the Chattanooga region; and police accreditation manager for the City of Morristown. He served in the Tennessee Army National Guard and United States Army Reserves for eight years, and he has been a licensed emergency medical technician for the past 35 years.

Haslam recently reappointed Purkey to the Tennessee Medical Examiner Advisory Council.

Press Releases

Haslam Requests SBA Assistance for Mid-TN Flood Recovery

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam; August 22, 2013:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has requested assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to help individuals and businesses in Metro Nashville and Davidson County and its contiguous counties recover from the severe storms and flash flooding that occurred on August 8-9, 2013.

The additional Tennessee counties that would be eligible for SBA loans are Cheatham, Robertson, Rutherford, Sumner, Williamson and Wilson as damage to homes and businesses occurred in multiple locations.

A joint Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) and SBA damage survey shows more than 190 homes and 46 businesses in Davidson County sustained minor or major damages and/or loss of inventory.

“The impact on affected individuals and business is significant, and a disaster declaration from the SBA will help speed their recovery from this flood,” Haslam said.

The SBA provides low interest disaster loans to homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes, and private, non-profit organizations to repair or replace real estate, personal property, machinery and equipment, inventory and business assets that have been damaged or destroyed in a declared disaster.

On Thursday, August 8, a severe weather front with heavy rain – in excess of 10-inches in some locations – moved across portions of Davidson County and Sumner and Wilson counties. First responders performed nearly 200 water rescues and high water covered numerous roadways and low-lying areas.

Press Releases

Haslam Requests Disaster Recovery Assistance from SBA

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam; February 11, 2013:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has requested assistance from the Small Business Administration (SBA) to help individuals and businesses in Henderson County and the contiguous counties recover from wind, tornado and flooding damages that occurred on Jan. 29, 2013. The additional counties that would be eligible for SBA loans are Carroll, Chester, Decatur, Hardin and Madison as damage to homes and businesses occurred in multiple locations.

A survey by the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) and the SBA indicates more than 25 homes and businesses in Henderson County sustained uninsured losses of 40 percent or more of their estimated pre-disaster fair market value.

“If Henderson County is designated by SBA, the assistance provided will help Tennesseans rebuild in the wake of these storms,” Haslam said.

The damage survey in Henderson County identified 37 homes with major damages, and 146 homes with minor damages. There were 11 businesses identified with major damages and two businesses with minor damages.

The SBA provides low interest disaster loans to homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes and private, non-profit organizations to repair or replace real estate, personal property, machinery and equipment, inventory and business assets that have been damaged or destroyed in a declared disaster.

To request a SBA designation for a county, the state must first be sure the state and affected communities will not qualify for the federal individual assistance program.

The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency and county officials have determined that Henderson and other counties affected by the January storm would not qualify for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s individual assistance programs based on a formal assessment of the damages.

Press Releases

Haslam Requests Presidential Disaster Declaration

Press Release from Gov. Bill. Haslam,  April 30, 2011:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has asked President Obama to declare four Tennessee Counties as federal disaster areas following the severe storms, flash flooding and tornadoes that struck the state beginning on April 25, 2011.

Should this initial request for assistance be granted Bradley, Greene, Hamilton and Washington counties would have access to varying levels of federal assistance programs.

As local officials and responding agencies complete damage assessments, other counties are expected be added to the April 25 declaration request.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost loved ones in this emergency, and I commend the first responders who have spent many days engaged in search and rescue operations to save lives,” Haslam said. “I am confident the federal government will expedite our major disaster request so we can get to the work of helping people rebuild their lives as quickly as possible.”

As a result of the severe weather, Tennessee suffered 34 fatalities and more than 500 homes were destroyed or sustained major damage. At the height of the emergency, up to 18 shelters provided essential needs for 233 people.

In the request, Haslam seeks Public Assistance for debris removal and emergency protective actions and Individual Assistance, including the Individuals and Households Program (IHP), Disaster Unemployment Assistance, Crisis Counseling, Disaster Food Stamp Program, American Bar Association Young Lawyers Legal Aid, and Small Businesses Administration disaster loans. The request also seeks assistance through the Statewide Mitigation Grant Program.

The Department of Military/Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, Department of Agriculture, Department of Environment & Conservation, Department of Health (EMS), Department of Human Services, Department of Transportation, Department of Safety, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Civil Air Patrol and American Red Cross responded and provided emergency protective services to supplement local efforts.

Additional information about state and federal assistance for affected counties will be released as details become available.

For more updates regarding the state’s response, visit the TEMA website at

Press Releases

Senate Dems Weekly Update, Week of April 24-29

Press Release from the Senate Democratic Caucus, April 29

Storm Damage Relief

This week’s storms and tornadoes have left 34 people dead in Tennessee, over 100 homes damaged or destroyed, and thousands more without power, according to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA). Reports of injuries and damages are still coming in, and residents who need assistance are encouraged to contact TEMA by dialing 2-1-1. This line is also available for those would like to volunteer goods, service, or money to aid the relief effort. TEMA strongly suggests that everyone use extreme caution in flooded areas, especially when driving.

Regressive Education Measures

Senate Bill 113, the bill that would abolish the ability of teachers to bargain collectively with school boards, was once again delayed on the Senate floor because of a new amendment that makes significant changes to the bill. As amended, SB113 would require all local school boards to create a personnel policy manual in which teachers, community members and others can submit input for changes. However, it does not guarantee changes will be included. As amended, the bill still repeals the Education Professional Negotiations Act that guarantees teachers collective bargaining rights.

Preserving Military Medals

Senate Bill 572, a bill sponsored by Senator Andy Berke that would preserve unclaimed military medals, passed 7-0 through a Senate committee Tuesday. This bill would require the state treasurer to hold any abandoned military medal until the owner or the proper beneficiaries could be identified for the return of the medal.

“Veterans’ medals are timeless treasures that should never be sold or auctioned,” Berke said. “This bill would ensure that they are given the respect they deserve and are returned to their rightful owners.”

The Senate State and Local Government Committee passed the bill, which will now go to the Senate floor. The House version of the bill awaits a hearing in the Calendar and Rules Committee.

Democratic Response to ECD Shakeup

On Thursday, Chairman Lowe Finney and Democratic House Leader Craig Fitzhugh responded to Governor Bill Haslam’s announcement concerning the restructuring of the Department of Economic and Community Development that will shift focus away from attracting jobs from outside of Tennessee in favor of growing jobs with in-state companies. They highlighted the fact that Governor Phil Bredesen’s efforts brought over 200,000 jobs and $34 billion in economic development to Tennessee, and that to shift the focus of the department now sends the wrong message. The full Commercial Appeal op-ed can be found online here.

Press Releases

Small Business Administration Approves $50M in Disaster Loans for Flood Victims

Press Release from the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency; June 8, 2010:

NASHVILLE – More than $50 million in U.S. Small Business Administration disaster assistance loans has been approved for those affected by the severe storms and flooding that struck Tennessee between April 30 and May 18.

“We are pleased to continue approving these loans so the residents and businesses of Tennessee can rebuild and resume their normal lives,” said Frank Skaggs, director of SBA Field Operations Center East in Atlanta. “Currently, 1,179 disaster loans have been approved in the amount of $53.8 million.”

Those affected by the recent storms can register for assistance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 800-462-7585 for the speech and hearing impaired from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Online registration is also available any time at

“This milestone is an example of the partnership between FEMA and SBA,” said Federal Coordinating Officer Gracia B. Szczech. “Working with SBA is one of the ways FEMA helps survivors continue to recover.”

If you were sent an SBA loan application, it must be completed and returned to be considered for certain federal grants. The deadline to return the SBA application and register with FEMA is July 6.

Most of the money for repairs and replacement of damaged real estate and personal property following a disaster typically comes from low-interest SBA disaster loans.

Loan amounts and terms are determined on a case-by-case basis. Interest rates as low as 2.75 percent for homeowners and renters – and as low as 4 percent for businesses – are available.

Homeowners can borrow up to $200,000 to repair or replace their primary residence. Homeowners and renters can borrow up to $40,000 to replace personal property.

Business owners can borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster-damaged real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets. SBA also provides small business owners economic injury loans for ongoing businesses expenses to recover from the economic impact of a disaster. These economic injury disaster loans are available even if the businesses didn’t sustain physical damages from flooding.

Follow the recovery in Tennessee online at,,, and

The social media links provided are for reference only. FEMA and TEMA do not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications.

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.