We were monitoring the wildfire in Gatlinburg, Tennessee yesterday evening when the order to evacuate was given. We have been in contact with people in the area. Our Associate Director for the Southeast, Ken Lowry, has spoken to Rod Rutherford, the minister at the Gatlinburg Church of Christ. With the evacuation still in place, they can not get in to assess the damage to their church building, but we know it’s right in the path where the damage was taking place. Right now only emergency management is being allowed in to the area until the fire is better contained, and they can see the direction that the fire is taking. The storms that went through the area made the situation worse, because the high winds spread the fire. We’ve heard of hundreds of structures burning, and we know that some were primary homes, but at this point we don’t know the numbers. If it was a high number of mountain getaways, then those people will go home, but if a high number of primary homes have burned, then we have to get the supplies to the people, and they’d be at shelters or friends or relatives spread all over the area. We’re ready to send 4 truckloads of supplies, but we need to get them to a safe place in the area, where the people can get to them , or where things are safe, so volunteers can take the supplies to the people. Brother Rod told us, depending on the fires containment, and movement, and safety of the community, it could be up to 2 days before others will be allowed in, and an assessment can be made.
We stand ready to send our standard loads of supplies, a retail value of approx $80,000 to $90,000 to the area. We work through a local church of Christ in the area, and want the supplies close to where the damages took place so the community in need can get to the supplies, and the volunteers can get to those who have lost their homes without concern of their safety. Each truckload will contain 300 family food boxes, 144 personal hygiene boxes, 36 infant care boxes, 3 pallets of bottled water, 120 pre-packed cleaning buckets full of cleaning supplies, wheelbarrows, mops, brooms, rakes, shovels, diapers, laundry detergent, bleach, sheets, blankets, pillows, new clothing, new shoes, all items ready to be handed out immediately, and all items new.
If you want to help at this point, please consider donating and we will stretch your donation dollar to purchase 3-4 times the quantity of goods you could buy for the same amount of money. For example, we buy bottled water for 8 cents a bottle! Over 87% of your donation dollar goes out to those we’re helping, in the form of these supplies. Later on, once homes can be re-occupied, we can provide all new furniture, appliances, and mattress sets for low income families that are not insured.
To donate, click on the DONATE NOW button at the top of this website, or mail us a check at the address below:
Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Effort, Inc.
Po Box 111180 Nashville, TN 37222-1180
Thank you for your support, and your prayers for this work. Please be praying for those in the Gatlinburg area that have lost their homes. We’re not hearing at this point of any deaths, only minor injuries.