Sevier County is recovering from a very unexpected tragedy. On November 28th, numerous structures in Gatlinburg were burned to their foundations. The fire destroyed at least 150 buildings, including iconic homes and a resort. Some buildings and attractions have survived largely intact, including the Dollywood amusement park in nearby Pigeon Forge. Before it was over, 2,460 structures had been damaged or destroyed in Sevier County. The worst price was paid by loss of life. 14 people have been confirmed dead in the wake of the disaster. 191 were injured.
During a news conference at the Sevier County Courthouse on Wednesday, December 7th, authorities announced they had made two arrests.Two teens will remain in custody in Sevier County, charged with aggravated arson. They await a bond hearing in Juvenile Court; they could be transferred to Criminal Court if prosecutors decide to try them as adults.
Music legend Dolly Parton was born in the eastern part of Tennessee, and is beloved to the people of this part of the state. On Tuesday, December 13th, she hosted a three-hour telethon broadcast, raising approximately $9 million for victims of the fires in Sevier County. Her Dollywood Foundation had already pledged to give every affected family $1,000 per month for six months; it is estimated that 1300 families have lost their homes.
“I am overwhelmed by the generosity of the people who have donated from all over the country and to my friends who donated their time, their talent, and money for My People,” said Dolly Parton. “The response has been so overwhelming that we haven’t been able to count all of the donations yet; right now, in total, we have raised about $9 million dollars for the folks who lost everything in Sevier County.”
Performing on the telethon were stars such as Chris Stapleton, Alison Krauss, Reba McEntire, Kenny Rogers, Big & Rich, Hank Williams, Jr., Cyndi Lauper, and more. Others, including Paul Simon, Taylor Swift, Dierks Bentley, and Kenny Chesney, sent in their donations.
The theme for the people and businesses rebuilding in wake of the wildfires is “Mountain tough.” That phrase perfectly sums up the attitude and spirit of the people of East Tennessee, as we are dedicated and determined to rebuild what was burned, and come back stronger than ever.
Never fear – Gatlinburg did not burn to the ground, and neither did Old Creek Lodge. We have been hard at work cleaning up from the mess, and when we are done our hotel will be better than ever – sparkling like brand new.
The people of East Tennessee and the Smoky Mountains take pride in our beautiful land and the lives we have created. No fire burns hot enough to kill that spirit.
We are opening back up soon, and Gatlinburg is well on its way to recovery, so please don’t hesitate to book your stay with us. Despite the recent damage, this is still one of the most beautiful parts of the country, filled with things to see and do. So come on back down to Gatlinburg and Old Creek Lodge. This is a family, and family has to stick together through tough times. We love our customers, and we love Gatlinburg. And we are…