Smoky Mountain Firestorm
As many of you have already heard, the Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge experienced a firestorm on Monday night that was unimaginable. The wildfire began near the Chimney Tops in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and quickly spread (due to strong winds and extremely dry conditions) through the Park to Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Wears Valley and other spots around the area. Current estimates are that over 17,000 acres were burned, along with over 700 structures in Sevier County. As of this evening, there have been 10 confirmed fatalities and over 70 people have been treated for injuries. Fire and rescue crews continue to fight the hot spots that are still burning and are desperately searching for those who are still listed as missing.
We are blessed that our Asbury Cottage was not harmed and we did not have any guests scheduled on Monday night. However, the gentleman who takes care of our lawn maintenance lost his home in the fires. There were also a couple cabins that are serviced by our cleaning crew that were also completely destroyed. Our heart aches for these families.
All previously arranged reservations remain intact. We encourage you to support our community in their rebuilding efforts by keeping your current reservations and scheduling further Smoky Mountain vacations in 2017. Tourism is the livelihood of this beautiful community and there is no better way to support these folks than by showing your love with a vacation to this area.
The main strip of Pigeon Forge along the 441 Parkway was not damaged at all. Most, if not all, Pigeon Forge businesses and restaurants are open and operating on normal schedules. Dollywood reopens on Friday. The Spur and main roads through Gatlinburg are expected to open next week. Some areas of the National Park, including Cades Cove are currently open and others are expected to reopen soon.
Many of you have asked...What Can I Do?
- - Pray for our community, our city and county leaders, the first responders, and volunteers.
- - Don't cancel your reservations and please encourage your family and friends to plan a vacation to our area in 2017. Tourism is the livelihood for these beautiful cities and the residents rely on you for their jobs and family income. This is a great way to show your support both monetarily and with your presence.
- - Donate to any of the numerous charities that have been established for this cause.
- - Send a heartfelt note to the city, county, state, Park officials, first responders, churches, charitable organizations, etc. who have worked tirelessly for the safety and security of all those affected.
- - Volunteer your time. It doesn't have to be right now. It will take quite a while to clean up and rebuild these areas. The media will soon lose interest and the immediate volunteers will be long gone. If you're in town this spring or summer, ask if there is anything you can do to help with rebuilding.
- - When you're here on vacation, talk to your waiters, waitresses, retail clerks, and others you run across around town. Tell them how much you admire their resiliency and show your love with your tips and local business spending.
Ernie and I are anxious to get down there to show our support and offer any assistance that we can. We will be going to Asbury Cottage on Sunday for a week for our annual Christmastime vacation. I registered today to volunteer at the supply distribution center while we are in town.
We are so deeply saddened by this tragedy, as I am sure you are. I have never met a person who has visited this area who hasn't left a piece of their heart when they returned home.
We sincerely thank you...ALL of you...who have reached out to us to ask about our cottage and offer your thoughts and prayers during this devastating event.
~ Love to all.... Ernie & Connie