Saturday, December 3, 2016

Frequently Asked Questions: Gaitlinburg, Pigeon Forge Wildfire Response

So many of us have been touched by the devastating wildfires here in Tennessee—whether directly as residents or indirectly as concerned citizens with big hearts. At this crucial hour, timely and accurate information is critical. Here are the top questions we've gathered from social media, as well as answers that we hope will be helpful.

Please note this post will be modified as new information comes in. (Updated 12/2/16)

Q: Is it true Red Cross took everything that has been donated from the community and sent it out of state?

A. No. The Red Cross honors donor intent regardless of whether it’s a financial gift or goods like clothing. With regard to the generous donations of clothing and goods from the public, we are working in close partnership with community organizations to store, clean and distribute these items. Everything that has been generously donated at shelters is being brought to a central distribution point for those in need. Local officials are encouraging people to call 866-586-4483 for questions about donations or other issues. Residents affected by the fire who need donated items can visit the central distribution point at Boyds Bear, 149 Cates Lane, Pigeon Forge.

Q: Why did you stop taking donated items – you said you had enough?

A. There has been an outpouring of support from the community and we are working with Gatlinburg community leaders and other local organizations as additional items are brought in to help those in need. Donations may be dropped off at Boyds Bear, 149 Cates Lane, Pigeon Forge.

Q: Red Cross seems to be taking credit for all hard work the locals have done in TV interviews.

A. Not at all, the Red Cross fully understands that large disasters like this create more needs than any one organization can meet on their own.  We are thankful for the outpouring of support and all of the organizations helping people affected by the wildfire. Disasters are complicated and it will take all of us, working together, to help Gatlinburg recover.

Q: Where is my financial donation going, is it staying local?

A. Financial donations to Disaster Relief are supporting current relief and recovery efforts in response to the tragic wildfires in Tennessee, and the Red Cross has what it needs at this time to help those impacted by this disaster. Disaster Relief financial donations are also helping with response efforts following days of deadly tornadoes across multiple states in the Southeast. By giving to Disaster Relief, you support our response to current disasters and keep us ready to respond to any and all disasters in the future – from the house fire down the street to massive hurricanes.

We appreciate that this is a challenging and difficult time for the residents of Tennessee, and the American Red Cross is committed to do all that it can to support those affected.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge Wildfire Response - December 2, 2016

We wanted to address some comments and questions we have received regarding the wildfires.
Here are the facts:
Over one hundred Red Cross workers are on the ground in Gatlinburg and surrounding areas to provide support and response to a devastating forest fire that has destroyed homes and forced the evacuations of thousands of people.
This is a difficult time for many families. Red Cross volunteers have opened shelters, and are providing meals, relief supplies and other assistance. Health workers are helping to replace needed items like prescription medications and eyeglasses, and Red Cross disaster mental health workers are helping people cope.
With regard to the generous donations of clothing and goods from the public, we are working in close partnership with community organizations to distribute these items. Everything that has been generously donated at shelters will stay in the community and is being brought to a central distribution point for those in need. Local officials are encouraging people to call 866-586-4483 for questions about donations or other issues.
Items can be dropped off or picked up at the central distribution point at Boyds Bear, 149 Cates Lane, Pigeon Forge.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Red Cross Wildfire Evacuee Story: The Youngs


Sevier County residents Jayne and Scott Young, along with their pet poodle Sassy, have spent the past two nights in the Red Cross shelter at Rocky Top Sports World in Gatlinburg. The Youngs told a harrowing story about how the wildfire flames quickly converged on their home. It was dark and smoky. They had lost electrical power in their home, so they could not get their car out of the garage and they couldn’t find Sassy.

“It was the flashlight app on our phone that saved us,” said Jayne. “Using it was the only way we found Sassy and made our way walking down the mountain.” Finally, a local resident driving by gave the Youngs a ride, and they made their way to the Red Cross shelter.

“Everything is gone. Forty years of our life is gone," said Scott as he wiped away tears.

You can help disaster victims like the Youngs by making a monetary donation to Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to, and help people recover from disasters big and small. To donate, visit www.redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767), or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Photo by Bob Wallace for the American Red Cross.

Red Cross Serves 10K Meals & Snacks to Wildfire Evacuees; 1K Meals to Firefighters

So far, more than 10,000 meals and snacks have been served to wildfire evacuees at Red Cross shelters in the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area of East Tennessee in the past couple of days. Additionally, nearly 1,000 meals have been served to firefighters battling the devastating wildfires. This Washington Post story below highlights what has been happening during the past couple of days.

Thanks to everyone who has donated, reached out with offers to help, and shared our Facebook and Twitter posts. Your support and generosity is greatly appreciated.

The Red Cross is still accepting monetary donations for wildfire relief efforts. A financial donation to Red Cross Disaster Relief can help provide shelter for someone who has had to leave their home as well as food and water for them to eat. Help people affected by disasters like wildfires in Tennessee and countless other crises by making a gift to Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to, and help people recover from disasters big and small. To donate, people can visit www.redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

TN Wildfires Drop-Off Locations and Accepted Items



Here is an updated list of drop-off locations and items currently being accepted to help people affected by the wildfires in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and surrounding areas:

Clothing donations:

* New Hope Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, 865-310-8153 (Brother Ron Cashwell)

Cases of water, Gatorade, individual pre-wrapped snacks, hygiene items:

* Regal Cinemas, Turkey Creek (11240 Parkside Drive, Knoxville)
* SMARM in Sevierville (203 Court Avenue)

Pallets of water and Gatorade:

* Second Harvest 136 Harvest Lane, Maryville; and 1741 Triangle Park, Maryville
* New Hope Church of God, 2450 Winfield Dunn Parkway, Sevierville, 865-932-4673

#GivingTuesday Started Early in Tennessee!


#GivingTuesday started early in Tennessee!

At 2 a.m., 17 people met at the Blount County Red Cross office to help load a truck to deliver supplies to Sevier County, where devastating wildfires have forced evacuations in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and the Great Smoky Mountain National Park area.

Even if you're not a Red Cross volunteer, you can be a big help to us today on Giving Tuesday like these folks did. You can apply right now to become a Red Cross volunteer at redcross.org/volunteer, or you can make a monetary donation, which will help us help folks in times of need like this, by visiting here.

Wildfires Force East Tennessee Residents to Evacuate

Evacuations have forced many from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as well as the resort mountain towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge in East Tennessee. The East Tennessee chapter of the Red Cross is working overnight to assist in the disaster relief efforts and has opened evacuation centers for the numerous residents and tourists evacuating the area. Learn more about the wildfires and evacuations in this report from NBC News.