I want to take a moment here to express how deeply saddened we are for those affected by the Gatlinburg area fires. This tragedy struck with little to no warning and lives were lost. Our hearts go out to all those who were impacted by this catastrophe.
The fires were pushed over from Chimney Top Trail in the Great Smokey Mountains at a frightening pace. The fires were fueled by 90 mph winds where within 15 minutes the entire area was engulfed in flames. Quite frankly, the pictures are so devastating and numbing to see that I am choosing not to post them on this blog.
People are still missing and as of today the death count reached 14. Nearly 200 people have been hospitalized with fire related injuries but all are in stable condition. Over 2,400 homes and businesses have been destroyed or damaged. These people have lost everything but the clothes on their backs.
How can we help?
- Tennessee’s Helping Hearts are taking donations for first responders. They are excepting towls, dog food, dishes, baby supplies, clothes and monetary donations. You can visit their website at www.tnhelpinghearts.us for more information.
- If you are interested in assisting those in the recovery efforts you can contact www.volunteerETN.org for more information.
- Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) has a call center for information about donating goods and helping to volunteer to aid the victims. The call center is staffed from 8 AM to 8 PM and you can reach them at 866-586-4483
- Publix Supermarkets throughout Tennessee have added a program where you can donate any dollar amount, adding it to your total bill at the time of your check out.
Goods needed include:
Personal hygiene products, diapers, baby foods and formula, flash lights, clothes, blankets, jackets, bottled water, canned and package foodstuffs and over-the-counter medications and basic first aid supplies.
Dolly Parton of the Dollywood Foundation has also announced that her foundation will be donating $1,000 a month to every family that lost a permanent residence until they can get back up on their feet again.
My family has personally made a donation and will be sending boxes of winter clothes and baby clothes for those who need it. Anything you can spare will go a long way to helping these families. Our thoughts and prayers are with them all.
Update: This was posted a couple of weeks ago but due to technical difficulties there was a delay. Although this news is no longer making headlines quite as much as it was the people still need our help.
Written by Kate Randall