NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — “It’s a difficult puzzle we’re having to put together,” Master Sgt. Benjamin Agee said Wednesday at the 118th Wing, a unit of the Tennessee Air National Guard.
Though he’s in Nashville, 60 miles away from where tragedy struck Saturday, he still feels the pain.
“You see houses that are two to three blocks away from where they’re supposed to be,” Agee said.
Houses in Waverly were picked up and tossed like toys, and it’s Agee’s job to piece them together on a map. He’s a piece of a very difficult puzzle, and even more important response.
Using a classification guide from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Agee determines to what extent structures are damaged. He then takes imagery from Civil Air Patrol to compare the area before and after, what’s damaged and what’s not.
Then, he places a colored dot on every building with some level of damage and it spans about 10 miles.
Purple dots signify a complete loss, red means major damage, yellow means moderate, and orange is minor damage.
“We had over 300 structures we identified as having some sort of damage and probably a quarter to a third of them are complete loss,” Agee said.
This satellite imagery and mapping helps determine the amount of flooding, damage to structures and helps know where to move around and what to move on the ground.
The damage findings are submitted to TEMA, who then provides that information to a whole gamut of places, from local organizations to the governor.
“Even after the disaster relief, a lot of these maps we provide can be used by other organizations to include insurance companies for damage assessments,” Capt. Tim Amos said.
What it comes down to is helping the people of Waverly.
“We are here to support our citizens and those are the ones in need right now and were here for you we got your back,” Amos said.
With both boots on the ground and behind a computer desk, everyone involved has just as important of a job. Another group of guardsmen left Wednesday morning with heavy equipment and will be partnering with other military units and TDOT for removal of debris.
“One of the cool things about being in the National Guard is we’re Tennesseans helping Tennesseans and we’re very proud to use the skills the Air Force has taught us to support our fellow Tennesseans.”