Gov. Haslam enacts executive order to help natural disaster victims

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Governor Bill Haslam has enacted an executive order to help the victims of the natural disasters that have spanned all week across parts of Tennessee.

The executive order suspends certain laws in order to ensure wildfire and severe weather disaster survivors have access to important healthcare services, consumer right protections and availability of state services as they recover.

Courtesy: Mark Nagi/TDOT via WATE
Courtesy: Mark Nagi/TDOT via WATE

“The citizens affected by the wildfires and severe storms have already been through so much, we want to make it easier for them to receive the care and services they need as they begin to pick up the pieces and rebuild their lives,” Haslam said. “The state is doing and will continue to do everything we can to support the victims and survivors of these devastating disasters.”

The executive order, according to a press release, includes the following provisions:

  • Gives the Commissioner of Health the discretion to allow health care professionals licensed in other states to practice their profession in Tennessee if they are assisting survivors or evacuees from the disasters.
  • Allows pharmacists to dispense a 14-day supply of a prescription drug without proper authorization to victims of and evacuees from the disasters in the following counties: Bedford, Bledsoe, Blount, Bradley, Cannon, Cocke, Coffee, Franklin, Grundy, Hamilton, Jefferson, Knox, Lincoln, Loudon, Marion, Marshall, McMinn, Meigs, Monroe, Moore, Polk, Rhea, Roane, Rutherford, Sequatchie, Sevier, Van Buren, and Warren.
  • Suspends residency rules for enrollment in Tennessee Department of Health programs for eligible wildfire and severe weather survivors.  These programs include: Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children; Renal Disease Program; Hemophilia Program; Children’s Special Services; and the Child Safety Fund.
  • Gives the Commissioner of Commerce and Insurance the discretion to direct Tennessee-licensed insurance companies to make reasonable efforts to assist policyholders who have experienced losses as a result of the disasters, specifically when a delay in premium payment appears to be the result of a disruption to the mail delivery system or the policyholder’s displacement.
  • Suspends rules to allow the Board for Licensing Contractors to temporarily license contractors without examination if he or she provides sufficient proof that the issuance of the license is to assist victims of or evacuees from the disasters and the person has sufficient experience and knowledge in the appropriate field of contracting.
  • Authorizes the Department of Safety and Homeland Security to waive any applicable fees for duplicate driver licenses or photo identification licenses issued to persons affected by the disasters.
  •  Encourages all state agencies to work with those adversely affected by a disruption to the mail delivery system or displacement due to the disasters and take those circumstances into account with respect to giving notice and providing state services.

The executive order also enacts a state of emergency from November 28 until January 30, 2017.

Damage in Tullahoma. (Photo: WKRN)
Damage in Tullahoma. (Photo: WKRN)

Under the state of emergency, price gouging laws are in effect, making it unlawful for individuals and businesses to charge grossly excessive prices for essential goods and services including repair or construction services, building materials, gasoline, food items, medical supplies, housing, storage services, and other necessities in direct response to a disaster.

At least 10 people were killed after a wildfire outbreak swept through Sevier County, Tennessee. Dozens of other people were injured and hundreds of structures were destroyed.

On Tuesday, severe weather and tornadoes impacted as many as eight counties in southeastern Tennessee. Four people were killed and several others were hurt.