How Can You Best Help Gatlinburg? Visit.

T he name Sevier County in Tennessee sounds eerily like Severe County when you hear the local residents pronounce it, as the county has been through some severe devastation within the past week.

Wildfires which roared out of control are now responsible for the deaths of at least ten people — as well as the destruction of hundreds of buildings. Strong storms ravaged the area to the point where minor mudslides resulted from the damage of foliage and flora caused by the wildfires.

How Can You Best Help Gatlinburg? Visit.

Even though access to Gatlinburg is still restricted due to the extensive damage — as well as ongoing search efforts — the mayor of the city has one message: “If you really want to do something for Gatlinburg, come back and visit us.”

As the mayor of Gatlinburg, Mike Werner was not immune from the devastation: he lost both his own home and his business of 31 years to the wildfires.

Although the Fantasy of Christmas Lights Parade in Gatlinburg has been canceled, “the Winterfest festival continues in Pigeon Forge and Sevierville, including several Christmas shows at various theaters”, according to this article from WBIR-TV Channel 10 News in Knoxville. “Dollywood theme park reopens on Friday, Dec. 2. Restaurants and lodging properties are operating on normal schedules.”

“Many of our city’s 6,000 residents, as well as those of our friends and family in Gatlinburg, are dependent on the tourism industry for jobs to care for themselves and their families,” said Leon Downey — who is the executive director of tourism in Pigeon Forge — according to the aforementioned article. “As our communities move forward, our industry has an obligation to our residents and employees to encourage visitation to the area and sustain our businesses.”

In an effort to speed up aid in the affect areas of eastern Tennessee, Bill Haslam — who is the current governor of the state of Tennessee — has declared a state of emergency.

Despite the significant rains, the region is still undergoing a severe drought; and fires are still possible due to the dry timber.

There are other ways you can help

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Update

Some areas of the Tennessee side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park are still closed at this time due to wildfire and smoke — including the Gatlinburg entrance; Sugarlands Visitor Center; Clingmans Dome; United States Highway 441; Little River Road and Cherokee Orchard Road — but other areas of the park are open. Additional information pertaining to closures, construction and disruptions is available at the official Internet web site of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Unfortunately, the Great Smoky Mountains were literally just that this week.

Summary

I have been to Gatlinburg and Great Smoky Mountains National Park — as well as other areas of eastern Tennessee, which contains some of the most beautiful and scenic areas in the United States.

Please consider helping the people of eastern Tennessee by visiting and spending your tourist dollars as you normally would to help fund construction and rehabilitation of the region.

Source: 2016 Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau.

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