Rise from the Ashes

November 23rd, 2016-----A date that will forever be etched in the minds of residents and visitors of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and areas surrounding it. A man-made fire began in the Chimney Tops area of the national park. The steep terrain made firefighting efforts difficult. Fast forward 5 days when high winds coupled with extreme drought conditions caused this situation to quickly escalate out of hand. Embers were carried miles away sparking fires throughout Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. To create an even worse situation high winds caused down power lines and transformers to blow creating more fires. This devastation resulted in more than 20,000 acres burnt, 2,460 structures damaged or destroyed, 14 fatalities, and 191 injuries or illnesses. 

Yes, the devastation appears insurmountable, but as Mayor Mike Werner said best, "We are Mountain Tough, and We have a Strong, Strong Faith in God"!

As residents and business owners were coming to terms that their homes and businesses were now a pile of ash, community members and supporters of our area were pulling together. The resources in our area are something you have to see to believe. Residents who had nothing more than the clothes on their back were bombarded with more help, then they knew what to do with. Distribution centers are having to turn away donations, because there simply is no more room in our town to store supplies. Bottled water is definitely not in short commodity. Throughout the county you can see pallets of supplies stacked and shrink wrapped just waiting for when residents might need something. The help in our community is not going away either. Resources will remain available as long as our community members need them.

Residents dig through what is left of their homes to try to find just something that connects them to everything they have ever known. Our town will rebuild and come back stronger and better than ever, because we are Mountain Tough and have so much support from near and far. We can't wait to see our community rise from the ashes!

-The Derosia Team


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