Houses Destroyed By Tornado

This aerial photo shows houses destroyed by 2011 tornadoes that tore through Greene and Washington counties and resulted in the deaths of eight people. September is National Preparedness Month. Authorities urge people to make a plan for when disasters strike.

History has shown that Greene County can be hit by natural disasters, or other unexpected events like the coronavirus pandemic.

National Preparedness Month is recognized each September to promote family and community disaster planning now and throughout the year.

It’s an especially appropriate time to plan ahead, state and local emergency operations officials said this week.

“As Tennessee continues to respond to COVID-19, there is no better time to be involved this September,” according to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.

Heather Sipe, director of the Greeneville/Greene County Office of Emergency Management & Homeland Security, said that each week throughout the month is focused on different aspects of preparedness planning.

The National Preparedness Month theme for 2020 is “Disasters Don’t Wait. Make Your Plan Today.”

The first week of September centered around making a plan.

Through Saturday, the theme is “Build A Kit.”

During the week of Sept. 13-19, the theme is “Prepare For Disasters.”

Between Sept. 20-26, the theme is “Teach Youth About Preparedness.”

“We can never be too prepared, ever. This year has added another aspect to the meaning of preparedness,” Sipe said. “In 2020, our entire nation has been dealing with a pandemic; however, a disaster will not wait for a pandemic to be over, so a plan for your family and work staff must include dealing with COVID-19 and weather hazards at the same time.”

Sipe said each week during the month, the county Office of Emergency Management will post guidance and informational links for preparedness activities for work and home on social media sites including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


In making a plan, Sipe urges Greene Countians to talk with family and friends about how to communicate before, during, and after a disaster.

“Make sure to update your plan based on the Centers for Disease Control recommendations due to the coronavirus,” a TEMA news release added.

In building a kit, Sipe said that families and individuals should gather supplies sufficient to last for several days after a disaster “for everyone living in your home.”

“Don’t forget to consider the unique needs each person or pet may have in case you have to evacuate quickly. Update your kits and supplies based on recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control,” TEMA adds.

In preparing for disasters, Sipe urged limiting the impacts that disasters can have on individuals and their families.

“Know the risk of disasters in your area and check your insurance coverage. Learn how to make your home stronger in the face of storms and other common hazards and act fast if you receive a local warning or alert,” a TEMA news release said.

Teaching youth about disaster preparedness is another important aspect of an overall plan, Sipe said.

“Talk to your kids about preparing for emergencies and what to do in case you are separated. Reassure them by providing information about how they can get involved,” the FEMA release said.


Social media is being used to get the message across to the public. TEMA, FEMA, and FEMA Region IV that includes Tennessee post daily messages on agency Facebook and Twitter accounts throughout the month.

“Use the official hashtag #BeReady when sharing social media posts,” the news release said.

On Twitter, go to @Readygov:

In addition to promoting National Preparedness Month through social media platforms, TEMA is hosting virtual “Coffee Breaks” to foster conversation about promoting National Preparedness Month in first response organizations and communities.

Resources and additional tips are available from FEMA on a “toolkit” website:

Links to additional resources are available on the Greene County EMA website:

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