Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Wildfire in the Smokies - How To Help

Updated info as of 11/30 here: http://www.appalachiaandbeyond.com/2016/11/blog-update-wildfires-and-how-to-help.html

Most of you have heard about the devastating wildfires that have affected the East Tennessee area. Last night, Gatlinburg and the part of the National forest that stretches between Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge - known as the Spur - was victim of an enormous, swift moving wildfire. Hundreds of homes and structures were damaged or destroyed and many, many people were displaced, some at this time still looking for family members including beloved pets.

It is sad, sad news. We are heartbroken for all of these victims, for all of the animals affected, and for our ancient mountains as well. Although as old as they are they've probably seen more fires than any of us could imagine, but in my lifetime, I've never seen anything like it in the Smokies.

There are more than 2000 people, at this time, that are in local shelters - more than 14,000 people evacuated. With this being #GivingTuesday, you may be wondering what you can do to help.

First - you can help the most by doing what officials are requesting. If you are in the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge, please try to stay off your wifi and cell phones - keep the lines clear. Please try to stay off the roads. Don't get in the emergency workers way. Don't try to travel to the area to "rubber neck.". Do NOT go to Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge to volunteer to help. Please stay out of the area. Evacuations continue and wildfires are still being fought. And for the love of God and all that is Holy, do not set any fires. Don't throw cigarettes out of windows, or anything else that is on fire. Most of East Tennessee is under a burn ban anyway. If you see someone burning illegally or setting fires in the drought affected area, please PLEASE report it to the officials.

What else can you do? We've compiled a list of official sites that have announced how they'll be helping in this area. Please keep checking back as we'll be adding more organizations and/or details as the situation progresses.

1) Friends of the Smokies - Accepting monetary donations. Here's what they have to say: http://friendsofthesmokies.org/product/givingtuesday/

"100% of your donations today can be designated towards fire relief in Great Smoky Mountains National Park below.

This will help reduce the impact of overtime staff fighting the fires on the ground, supplement federal resources already being used, and help aid in recovery of any park structures or facilities damaged by the fires. Our friends at Mast General Store, Patagonia, and Travelers Insurance had already agreed to match up to $15,000 in gifts today, and 100% of their donations will continue to be used to support the park"

2) The American Red Cross - they have currently set up a place inside Pigeon Forge to accept donations for the victims and the first responders. At this time they are not accepting untrained volunteer work, but could use monetary donations. If you live locally, you can drop off donations at:

The Pigeon Forge Fire Hall Station 1 at
3229 Rena Street in Pigeon Forge

OR

If you want to donate online, please visit:


OR

Text "REDCROSS" to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

3) Knoxville Expo Center:
Will accept donations TODAY (Nov 29, 2016) between 8:30a and 5:00p. They will be accepting tooth brushes, tooth paste, water, baby wipes, diapers, dog food, cat food, kennels and more at 5441 Clinton Highway in Knoxville.

People can call (865)686-3200 or (865)919-8114 for more information or email Crystal@knoxvilleexpocenter.com.

4) Wildwood Farm -
Offering refuge to any large animals -cattle, horses, llamas, etc - displaced by the fires. Their farm has pasture, water and hay available. Located in the Porter/Wildwood community. Also equipped to help with a stock trailer and horse trailer. Contact Julie Maner at (865)256-9589

5) Star 102.1 is collecting water, clothing, food, and pet care donations at their station. 1533 Amherst Road, Knoxville

6) Remote Area Medical is responding to the fires and says anyone is welcome to call them if they'd like to volunteer to help. Contact RAM at (865)579-2555.

7) The Blount Co. Chamber of Commerce and the Townsend Visitors Center -

Collecting items for displaced families and first responders. Drop off items at

201 S. Washington Street in Maryville
OR
7906 E. Lamar Alexander Pkwy, Townsend

Needed items include water and power drinks, canned or packaged food, pet food, blankets, diapers, jackets, gloves and scarves.

Donations will be accepted from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. For any questions, call (865)983-2241.

8) Loudon County Sheriff's Office -
items to assist first responders and the displaced like Powerade, Gatorade, bottled water, snack bars and other easy-to-handle snacks. Drop off items at the LCSO/Justice Center.
No monetary donations are being accepted at this location!

9) Twisted Mike's -
7125 Kingston Pike in Knoxville
Accepting donations of non-perishable food items and toys for children impacted by the fires. They will deliver donations to Sevier County on Friday Dec 2nd 2016.

10) Regal Cinemas' Pinnacle at Turkey Creek -
Drop-off location for the Red Cross.

Collecting bottled water and other beverages, toiletries, clothing, flashlights, batteries, walkers and canes, diapers and wipes, baby formula, non-perishable foods, protein bars, and pet supplies.

Drop off all day Tuesday Nov 29 at the theater's parking lot at

11240 Parkside Drive in Knoxville

For more ways to help visit:



If your organization wants to help or if you need to find more information, please contact Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) at (615)741-0001.

Currently the following restaurants are providing assistance to first responders:

Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant and Grill - free hot meal for first responders

All Collier Restaurant Group restaurants in Sevierville and Pigeon Forge are opening today and will be feeding emergency responders for FREE. This includes:

Golden Corral in Sevierville and Pigeon Forge
TGI Fridays in Sevierville and Pigeon Forge
Flapjack's Pancake Cabin in Sevierville and Pigeon Forge
Quaker Steak & Lube Sevierville
Corky's Ribs & BBQ Pigeon Forge

Firehouse Subs in and around the Knoxville area including Pigeon Forge, Maryville, Lenoir City, Oak Ridge, Sevierville, are currently accepting donations of cases of bottled water, energy drinks, Gatorade, etc.  They are willing to provide food for emergency workers and will deliver to a needed area.   If there is a specific need in a certain area for food or drink, have a representative call John Sloane at (865)250-2842 or Robbie Carroll at (865)388-6480

Please continue to pray for the victims of this wildfire and for our precious forests.

God Bless,
Robin & Tim