We will never forget the wildfire that ravaged parts of our county last night. I generally blog about happy things, but felt compelled to get out and about today after the tragic losses to see what was going on. In just a couple of hours, I was able to see various examples of Sevierville wildfire response. There were many, many people mobilizing help and assistance. Here are just a few that I saw today.
When we saw video of the Spur (the road between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg) on fire last night, I know that a lot of us panicked thinking of the Humane Society in that area. Fortunately, they had mobilized and evacuated pets to the Young Williams Animal Center in Knoxville. In the meantime, they have mobilized a temporary shelter at the Sevierville Fairgrounds. I made a visit this afternoon and found it ready for incoming animals.
Actually, there was a large contingent of volunteers helping the Humane Society prepare the fairground buildings, one for dogs and one for cats. When I arrived, they were unloading big packs of newspaper which looked like donations from the Knoxville News Sentinel.
The Sevier County Humane Society was prepared and ready for intake.
Contrary to what you may think, the Humane Society doesn’t need food and crates as much as they need donations. Donations will help them in several ways. First, there will be some animals with medical care. For example, one dog there must be treated for burns. In addition, their building (they think) is still standing, but there must be some smoke damage and no telling what else. Donations will help them most since their building was in the path of the wildfire. Donate by going to their Facebook page and click the ‘donate’ tab https://www.facebook.com/SevierHumaneSociety/?hc_ref=SEARCH&fref=nf
or go to their website at www.sevierhumane.org
Audrey, above, came from Asheville to drop off kennels and crates for the Humane Society. Thank you!
Last night, the Barker Lounge posted on Facebook that they could take in pets who needed shelter. I stopped by today to see how they were doing. There were many volunteers who had mobilized to accept the many item drop offs.
The volunteer told me that they began taking in pets last night about 8:00 p.m. and stayed throughout the night. Barker Lounge ended up with 40-50 (mostly) dogs and 3 cats of locals, tourists, those who had lost their homes.
The volunteer allowed me into a room that I have seen used for storage and training, but now giving shelter to some of the pets. It was feeding time so all was quiet and pets seemed content considering the circumstances that had brought them here. They were very well taken care of.
A few cats were chilling out in their area.
I asked what they needed at the Barker Lounge and here is the what they said this afternoon: feeding bowls, 30 gallon contractor trash bags, and canned chicken for animals with delicate digestive needs.
Helping First Responders and Those Displaced by the Fires
Next, I dropped by First Baptist Church of Sevierville because I remembered that they had been cooking for the LeConte Center shelter this morning. According to the guys that I talked to, church members had cooked hundreds of hot dogs that morning, but volunteers had mobilized to the LeConte Convention Center this afternoon to help on site.
On the way out, I passed by the downtown Sevierville Fire Station and stopped for a minute. They were loading a huge pallet of water to take to the Command Center at Rocky Top Sports World, the command center for the fire scene.
Captain Atchley is a 1987 alum of SCHS. His great grandfather was Fred C. Atchley and he is a cousin to Jim Atchley. That, my friends, is a firefighter pedigree!
Captain Atchley spent last night in the upper end of Gatlinburg on a ladder truck inspecting buildings. He said that it was very intense.
Interestingly, before I left, two senior citizens pulled in up their car to talk to him a moment. I heard them ask him directions to the Apple Barn Restaurant. When they left, I asked if people stopped by to ask directions a lot. He smiled and replied, “yes, all the time.” At this moment, I remember that I have done that three times myself.
Next, I moved on to Sevierville Primary School to donate to a family who had lost everything in the fires. Two teachers had mentioned the need on Facebook and were at the school from 3:00-6:00 to accept anything that could be donated.
People had clearly responded to the request. I was happy to see that Becca and Ashley had several bags of good things to give them this evening.
My last stop was the DreamMore Resort by Dollywood because the fire had looked so close to it last night in the pictures that I saw on Facebook. All looked well and I saw no sign of singeing or burned vegetation.
But it looked like they are not taking chances tonight.
No parking near the tree line.
At the ready.
I only had a couple of hours to get out and about in Sevierville today, but there was a lot of activity going on to assist our neighbors nearby. Pray for our friends in Sevier County.