Day Three In Gatlinburg–Heartbreak, Hope, And Community Values

THE GATLINBURG TIMELINE <—CLICK HERE

GatlinburgFire.PNG

 

 

Three days ago now, fire engulfed Pigeon Forge, Chalet Village, and Gatlinburg in the early hours of the morning. Within a 24 hour period, this beautiful part of eastern Tennessee was hit with not just a devastating fire, but also tornadoes and heavy rains, resulting in scattered flooding.

While much of America slept, the people in this area experienced events that taken individually are bad enough, but collectively beggar the imagination. The timeline above chronicles those events from early Monday through to the present, as reported by the three local news stations, as well as two newspapers.

Why Is This Timeline Important?

Well, initially the timeline is important because on it are all of the news stories, all of the calls for help and offers of help, all of the official bulletins, Facebook groups, gofundme and youcaring appeals, all in one place.

But the timeline is more than that–because as you read through from the beginning to the current point, you see real news, in a way that many have never seen it before. You see the faces behind the news–the exhausted journalists working around the clock trying to inform, to comfort and to support their neighbors. You see the faces of the local officials–men and women who are standing strong for their constituents though they also have lost their homes and businesses. You see the first responders, the heroic fire fighters who are sleeping at the fire stations, ready to wake and go in to harm’s way again and again for their community, side by side with fire fighters and emergency personnel who have come in from around the nation, sometimes at their own personal expense, to help.

You read through the comments on the stories and see Americans from other places offering prayers, offering blankets, clothing, toys and medical equipment. small business owners and work at home moms pledging a portion of their earnings to help the disaster victims. You see the face of the America that elected Donald Trump president.

“My Mom on Tuesday morning in Pigeon Forge TN. My Mom and Dad lost everything but we still have them. I just thought this pic was worth sharing. Thanks.”

 

 

 

 

“Are there donated blankets/pads/sleeping bags/cots they could use? Sure wish we could drive up there just to hand them some….. Poor Tired things… Bless them.”

These are not people who are waiting for FEMA or the Red Cross to arrive–though their arrival is certainly welcome. They are banding together, opening their remaining homes to friend and stranger alike. They are sharing what little they have with their neighbor or the tourist who now has nothing–because they are confident in their belief that in our nation of plenty, these people would do the same for them.

Already the roads are clogged with trucks and cars from neighboring areas,bringing donations–not for the Red Cross or other faceless national group, but to hand to their neighbors, personally. And the facebook timeline is filling with posts from people in neighboring states asking to be connected with those in need. The outpouring of support from both the people in Sevierville, Gatlinburg and the other towns that have been swept up in this once in a lifetime firestorm is a small miracle in and of itself.

This is the America that many people would dismiss with casual stereotypes like “redneck”, “cracker” “hillbilly”, or “bitter clinger”. This is where people say “bless your heart”–even after they politely tell you your opinion doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. There are, I have no doubt, some sad, angry, or unpleasant people here–there are everywhere. But in this corner of the world, that type of behavior is publicly, politely, stomped on–because it’s not useful, or productive, it merely makes what is currently an extremely hard position even harder.

Right Now…

Most of the nation is looking forward to a wonderful Christmas. Right now, If you’re reading this, you’re probably at home, with a full belly and a Christmas tree, Menorah, or whatever holiday trappings you enjoy. But this is the season of Giving–so right now would be a good time to give. Give to Gatlinburg. There are children there that have nothing now, that have lost their most treasured toys and possessions. There are men and women wondering how they will be able to rebuild, and when. There are senior citizens and people with medical needs, there are hundreds and hundreds of rescued pets and horses. There are Americans who need us all to give–right now.

Don’t Go Red Cross–Go Dollywood.

Dolly Parton knows what it’s like to be dirt poor in Sevier County–because she grew up there. Over the years she has built Dollywood, and brought millions into the local economy. She has funded schools, and libraries, paid medical bills–and now SHE IS ONCE AGAIN STANDING, SMOKY MOUNTAIN STRONG, FOR HER PEOPLE. While the Red Cross is pulling in the usual fawning and bootlicking from the media (while leaving very little of the money they collect in the local economy, all things considered), Dollywood’s My People fund will be giving 1000.00 a month for 6 months to each family that has lost a home in this disaster. About 6 million dollars, give or take half a million.

100% OF THE MONEY DONATED AT THE LINK ABOVE WILL BE GIVEN TO THOSE IN NEED. DOLLY PARTON IS ABSORBING THE ADMINISTRATIVE COSTS FOR THIS SPECIAL PROJECT HERSELF. And you can bet your cowboy boots she will be doing more than that. And for those who are saying “tax deduction”–look up the IRS deduction rules for charitable contributions. She doesn’t do this because she’s looking for a lower tax bill. She does this for her people.

It’s high time America realize that the big so-called “non-profits” like the Red Cross ARE NO SUBSTITUTE FOR LOCAL NON-PROFITS. NO WHERE CLOSE TO IT. The Red Cross, like many charities, is in many ways a thinly disguised cash cow for its highly overpaid administrators.

If you want to help Gatlinburg with money, GO THROUGH THE TIMELINE LINK AT THE TOP. Whether you go with Dollywood, or the Sevier County Humane Society, or one of the other fundraisers that are LOCAL doesn’t matter. What matters is that YOU ALWAYS, ALWAYS, DONATE LOCALLY in a disaster like this. Sure, send the Red Cross a check once a year or so. Sure, donate blood. But if you’ve ever had a disaster strike and had to use emergency services yourself, you know that the locals will be more helpful, and faster.

AND IF YOU DON’T HAVE MONEY–THEN HELP BY SHARING. SHARE THE TIMELINE LINK ON YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA SEVERAL TIMES A DAY. IT TAKES ONLY SECONDS TO TWEET, POST ON A FORUM, STICK THE LINK ON YOUR BUSINESS WEBSITE, OR EMAIL THE LINK TO FRIENDS. Show people just how large this disaster is.

NEXT–GATLINBURG, LOST AND FOUND.

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