As I’m sure you have heard by now, a fire that swept across parts of Gatlinburg and into Pigeon Forge in the last week of November claimed the lives of at least 14 people and injured almost 200. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of those who were personally affected by this tragedy, including those who lost loved ones, lost their homes or businesses, or suffered as a result of the fires.
Thank you all for all of the phone calls, emails, and messages we have received in expression of support during this time. We are sad to report that more than 1,100 residential structures were determined to be destroyed by the fire. Of course, when we say residential structures this includes second home and investment cabins and chalets.
The challenge ahead of us is to rebuild, and it is a challenge that city officials in Gatlinburg have stated they are committed to completing.
It is a time like this that we appreciate the preciousness of human beings and realize that our belongings are not the treasures of our life. The real treasures are found in the lives of our friends and families. The outpouring of sacrifice and volunteer spirit is very overwhelming here as firefighters, police officers, restaurants, churches, all step in to save lives, and property. And there is still much work to be done as the clean-up effort continues. Right now, local news outlets are reporting that thousands of volunteer helpers are needed for the work.
Gatlinburg is open for business and as tourists return to the area this week, every effort is being made to get back to the regular routine of serving our guests in the Smokies. So come visit us, shop in our stores, eat in our restaurants, and enjoy the Smokies!
I like what our Gatlinburg mayor was quoted as saying: “We are mountain tough, and we have a strong, strong faith in God.” My friends at Smoky’s Furniture shared if there’s anything that can be learned from the tremendous support that has been triggered by these events is that we are a tight-knit family and we can always count on family to help us through the tough times. Always stay “Smokies Strong.” I couldn’t agree more!