Thousands of East Tennesseans were forced evacuate from their homes in early December following the wildfires around the Gatlinburg & Smoky mountain areas. Sevier County issued an emergency call for 1,800 volunteers during the first week in December & thanks to 21st, we were able to be a part of the recovery relief effort. The Volunteer Reception Center tasked our group with sorting through load after load of donations dropped off by semi-trucks. The amount of generosity shown through donations was simply astonishing...and definitely a bit overwhelming. Luckily, there were around 40+ volunteers helping us sort through the heaps of clothes, blankets, toiletries, etc so they could later be distributed back into the community.
Thankfully most residents have either returned home or found temporary housing, but that doesn't mean everything is already back to normal. Attention has shifted toward rebuilding homes and businesses which is going to be extremely time-consuming & costly. There are continued volunteer opportunities to assist with cleanup & Smart Bank is collecting monetary donations - links included below.