Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Red Cross Offers Assistance & Hope in Wake of Tragedy in East Tennessee

Red Cross disaster responder Bob Wallace listens as Red Cross shelter residents Rev. Riley Fenley and his wife Patricia share their ordeal in escaping the wildfires. The Fenleys are visiting Gatlinburg from Griffin Circle, Georgia. “We’ve come up here for 21 years,” shared Particia. But this time, their chalet was directly in the path of a wildfire. We got out safe, and everyone here has gone out of their way to take care of us,” said Rev. Fenley, who went on to say that his congregation back in Georgia is praying for them. Photo by Sarah Basel for the American Red Cross.

On the evening of Monday, November 28, wildfires forced the evacuation of thousands of people from the Great Smokey Mountains, including the towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, TN.  The Red Cross immediately sprang into action, opening evacuation centers and shelters for the residents and tourists who fled their homes.

As dawn broke on the morning of the 29th, it was evident that the damage was widespread. Many people remained in shelters, not knowing if their homes were still standing, let alone if loved ones had made it out safely.

Working together with community partners, the Red Cross managed three shelters, providing meals, snacks and a place to sleep for those displaced for days after the wildfires hit.  Red Cross volunteers also helped to fill lost prescriptions, provided mental and emotional support and began disaster assessment of homes that were damaged or destroyed.

Meanwhile in Southeast Tennessee, an outbreak of severe storms and tornadoes impacted eleven counties, with several counties reporting multiple collapsed structures and downed power lines.
Again, the Red Cross was there, mobilizing a damage assessment team, mobile feeding unit and bulk distribution unit, and opening cases to assist those affected.

By the first week of December, there were over 300+ Red Crossers from across the nation in East and Southeast Tennessee providing assistance to people affected by disasters.  Volunteers helped with all aspects of a disaster operation, from sheltering and feeding, to logistics and mental health, to meeting  with community and government officials to ensure residents were being well taken care of.

It is because of our volunteers and the generosity of the public that the Tennessee Region of the American Red cross was able to provide the following combined services in East and Southeast Tennessee:

48,385 meals and snacks
3,000+ shelter overnight stays
526 cases opened to help provide additional needs
1,094 comfort kits

All with the help of nearly 500 staff and volunteers!

Many people affected be the disasters in Tennessee over the past month have a long road ahead.  Because of your support, the Tennessee Region of the American Red Cross is able to be there now, and when the next disaster strikes, providing assistance and hope when it is needed most.

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