Wildfires that started on Monday have caused extensive damage in and around Gatlinburg, Tennessee. At least four people have lost their lives to the fires, around 14,000 people have been evacuated, and over 150 homes have been destroyed so far. In the face of this natural disaster, Tennesseans and people across the country are doing what they do best: pulling together to help each other in a time of need. Here are just a few of the many ways you can lend a hand or seek assistance if you have been affected by these fires.
Resources for Evacuees
Check In If You’ve Been Displaced:
Facebook has started a safety check for people in the Gatlinburg area. This is a quick way to let your loved ones know you’re safe, and you can use the tool to ask someone else if they are too.
The American Red Cross also has a Safe and Well registry for natural disaster survivors. You should check in with both Facebook and the American Red Cross if you have had to evacuate; this can give your loved ones some peace of mind and helps emergency services keep track of people who may be unaccounted for.
Find Help If You Need Shelter:
United Way has an emergency relief hotline where you can find help in your area by simply calling 211.
Wildwood Farm is offering help for farmers needing help with relocating cattle and large animals. They may be able to provide water, hay, or trailers. Call 865-256-9589 for assistance.
Resources for Those Nearby
Donate in Person:
The American Red Cross of East Tennessee is posting locations where supplies can be dropped off and what goods are needed.
Kroger grocery stores in Middle and East Tennessee, southern Kentucky, and northern Alabama are taking monetary donations for the American Red Cross at all locations.
Offer to Volunteer:
It’s important to know that only trained disaster relief volunteers are needed at this time. The area is very dangerous and people who don’t know what they are doing will only complicate the work of first responders.
If you’re trained in disaster relief, check in with Volunteer East Tennessee for what is needed on the ground. You will be notified of ways you can help after signing up. Organizations can also use this service to reach out for qualified volunteers.
How to Help From Anywhere
Donate to the Tennessee Valley Coalition for the Homeless to help people who have lost their homes to the fire.
The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee has set up a disaster relief fund for Gatlinburg.
Save the Children is collecting donations to help kids displaced by the fires and their families.
Donate to the Sevier County Humane Society to help shelters that are taking in animals and those that will need to rebuild when the fires pass. At least one shelter was in the path of the fire and had to evacuate its animals.
No matter where you are, you can spread the word about resources and call on others to help in any way they can. In any disaster, information is key to saving lives and aiding with recovery. As always, make sure you are using reliable sources.
Our thoughts are with the people of Gatlinburg. We must use our hearts, heads, and hands to work with evacuees now and over the coming months. It will take time to recover, but one day those beautiful hills will be green again.