A Gatlinburg Story: Lost And Found.


Charles Is the kind of pet anyone could love–a sweet face, intelligent, friendly. But Charles isn’t a typical pet–he’s a pig. And he is one of the small miracles of the Gatlinburg Story. In the chaos of the fire and evacuation, Charles’ owner had to leave everything behind, including him. And now, it’s all gone.

The home that held so many memories is ashes, the woods surrounding it are a wasteland. But Charles had burrowed into the mud, and survived. Now there are SOME PEOPLE who are probably now indignant, wondering how someone could love a beloved pet behind to begin with. Well–when you can’t get the car out of the garage because of fallen trees, there’s a solid wall of fire roaring toward you and your choking 18 month old baby, and the pet weighs more than  a grown man–you must sadly make  a choice. And the tale of that choice is in the link below.

The Tale Of The Rescue

Rob Holmes and his family have lost so very much–but even in the losses, there are some blessings:

“We’re living in a hotel. We’re basically left with the clothes that we have. We have nothing, we’ve lost all of our possessions, but none of that matters,” Holmes said. “We’ve got something more and more important. we’ve got our family, we’ve got love.

“The Lord took care of us, and then he blessed us and he gave us back Charles, and so now, we’re complete.”

Charles Is Only One Of The Animals That Survived

The Sevier County Humane Society is currently taking care of many animals at the County Fairgrounds, everything from dogs and cats to horses, and more animals are still being found. Selfless veterinarians are providing a wide range of services free of charge when possible, and the outpouring of donations to the organization–money and more importantly food and volunteer assistance– is going a long way in healing the physical damage and providing the owners who are currently displaced with a sense of security, knowing their pets are being tended by loving hands.

Even when all seems lost–some things may be found. Even when it seems there is nothing left, there IS something left. For some, that is a pet. For others, it’s faith, or community, or family. Whatever it may be for each person, the very act of sharing an experience with others creates a certain bond, however horrific the experience may be.

And as you read through the timeline, wherever you may be, you come to look for certain familiar faces and names. You become a little familiar with the roads, and the local much loved attractions. You find yourself watching the clock for the next press conference, and rooting for the mayors as they face down the members of the media that are NOT part of the community.

And when a local journalist says God Bless You–on camera–hearing it feels good. Because the local journalists, the tireless professionals of WATE, WVLT, and WBIR, aren’t the plastic talking heads of the national networks. They’re real. They’re honest. And unlike the talking heads, they are committed to this place, and these people. They have found the delicate balance between objective, professional journalism and community partnership in a way that sets their coverage apart from the outsiders. We know they are being objective, and thorough. But they are also compassionate, genuinely involved, and a real part of their story.

Gatlinburg and the local area have lost so much. But time is already showing that people in Gatlinburg are finding  much also. And there are more and more people around the United States, and in other countries, becoming a small part of this story–watching these news channels, leaving prayers, asking for updates, reaching out through cyberspace and connecting, uniting to share this story at the speed of light. Something unique is happening, that never could have happened before the internet and social media, and the result will be equally unique.



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





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.


“With My Mom on Tuesday morning in Pigeon Forge TN. My Mom and Dad lost everything but we still have them..”


Image result for firefighters sleeping gatlinburg

“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.



A Gatlinburg Story–A Girl And Her Horse.

veterinary care for burned therapy horse (Heaven the burned therapy horse)

This Is Heaven–And She Is A Therapy Horse.

For a five year old child, the world can be a very strange and frightening place. But for the little girl who owns this horse, it’s even tougher than average–she has Autism. Heaven is her link to a world that she doesn’t see very easily. Autism can manifest in a variety of ways, but thay all have one thing in common–even our “ordinary” world is passing strange, and often extremely frightening, for those who are autistic.

Heaven and her family live in Gatlinburg–a town that has been visited in the last several days with massive fire destruction, torrential rains, and tornadoes. While the world goes on for the rest of us, this girl and her family have lost all they have. And Heaven is facing a lot of veterinary care to be returned to good health.

While Heaven is safe and receiving veterinary care, her owners are having to cope with devastating losses, and one little girl is facing them without the therapy animal that is her anchor. She is facing a world without ANYTHING she recognizes, save her family. No Heaven, no beloved Disney movies. All of the children in Gatlinburg are facing the same conditions, but there aren’t many in her position.

Here Is The Update On Heaven:


UPDATE: I have just spoken to Brian in regards to Heaven. I can tell you that she is being cared for at Douglas Lake Riding stables and is under veterinary care. We will only be giving out limited information as several people who were NOT Heavens owners have tried to claim her. If you need verification as to her needs they can be reached at 865 556 3869. Heaven is under the care of Dr Ryan Snow DVM of the Sevier County Animal Clinic 865 453 1221..
This family has lost everything, their home was a total loss the thought that some would try to take their autistic childs certified therapy horse is just beyond my comprehension!
Friends this horse was evacuated by Brian Minton she is a certified therapy horse for a 5 year old autistic child.
They have requested help with her veterinary bills currently at $500.00 but expected to go higher. She was initially seen by a veterinarian at UT but is now under the care of another veterinarian. We are awaiting and update from her care givers as to which vet is currently caring for her. Please consider making a tax deductible donation towards her care.
If more is donated for her care than what is needed excess funds will be donated to help other pet owners with veterinary bills resulting from the fires.

veterinary care for burned therapy horse (Heaven the burned therapy horse)

How Can YOU Help?

HELP PAY FOR HEAVEN’S CARE  Heaven is going to need quite a lot of care to get through this, and be reunited with the little girl who needs her very much. And Heaven’s story is only one of thousands I have seen in the last three days, since this crisis began. For those who wish to see more of what is happening in Gatlinburg, and reach out to those who need us to help make their corner of America Great again, you can read my personal facebook timeline. I am, and will continue to be, collecting all of the stories and information surrounding this crisis on my timeline until things calm down. 

Feel free to share, report, reblog and make use of the information there as you wish. I’m getting nothing from this, and have no desire to–but if some item on my timeline helps someone, that is all that matters.


On Heaven the burned therapy pony-
Hello friends,
I have spoken to Alyssa today, Heavens owner. Heaven is doing well and in an effort to keep costs down will be leaving Douglas Lakeview Boarding Stables and instead will be boarded with the kind gentleman who evacuated her and saved her life. She will still be under the care of Dr Snow.. Heaven is expected to make a full recovery and Alyssa will be sending us updated photos tonight..
She was kind enough to share with us photos of happier times with Heaven and her daughter Izzy.
Alyssa and her family have lost everything, their home, their 3 beloved dogs….evacuating in such a hurry that she even left her purse behind without so much as a debit card to purchase gas.
I asked her what was needed and she did not even know where to begin… She is looking for a small place to rent in the Gatlinburg Sevierville area until they can rebuild. She needs a rental with at least a small yard for Heaven….. so if any of you are aware of a place for rent where a small horse can be kept please let us know ( you an email us at savingfurryfriends@yahoo.com)
I also know all of Heavens supplies brushes, saddles, halters where also lost.
She also informed me that her daughter Izzy loves Disney movies and had quite an extensive collection until the fire claimed those as well. I have asked her to make a list of what is needed most for her and her children. She will be figuring out what is needed most and let us know. She also gave us the address of a friend where packages can be sent in care of. If any of our friends are interested in sending much needed items please emailsavingfurryfriends@yahoo.com and we will share her temporary mailing address with you.
I will update the chip in with this information as well as photos taken of Heaven today. Thank you all for your support.