There has been an outpouring of concern for the victims of the recent Tennessee fires that destroyed a large portion of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevier County and displaced more than 14,000 residents.
Officials are asking that people wishing to help not travel to the area but instead send assistance. There are numerous organizations working to provide aid, some of the larger and better known include:
- The Dollywood Foundation – The fund will provide $1,000 each month for up to six months to Sevier County families who lost their homes in the wildfires. https://dollywoodfoundation.org/
- The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee – CFMT has set up a support fund to distribute donations directly to the affected communities and the nonprofits on the ground helping victims and addressing their needs. Donate here: cfmt.org
- The Tennessee Hospitality & Tourism Association and the Greater Nashville Hospitality Association – These groups are accepting donations to assist victims. Contact Jessica Cardwell at firstname.lastname@example.org or Greg Adkins at email@example.com. You can also call 615-385-9970. Checks can be mailed to the Tennessee Hospitality & Tourism Association, 475 Craighead St., Nashville, TN 37204.
- Kroger and East Tennessee Chapter of the American Red Cross– They are working together to provide financial aid. Donations will be accepted at all Middle and East Tennessee Kroger stores, Northern Alabama Kroger stores, and Southern Kentucky Kroger locations. All money will be forwarded directly to the East Tennessee Chapter of the American Red Cross.
- First Tennessee Bank- They will match donations from the public to East Tennessee Red Cross, up to $50,000. People can donate at any First Tennessee financial center. You can find locations here.
- The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture – They are collecting gift cards of any monetary value. These can be mailed to UT Extension, 752 Old Knoxville Highway, Sevierville, TN 37862.
- Tennessee Lawyers of the Tennessee Bar Association, the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Service (TALS), Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET), and the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission – These groups are partnering up to offer those affected help with their legal needs. Any wildfire victims in need of legal assistance can call the TALS helpline at 844-HELP4TN, or go to www.help4tn.org for resources and access to TN Free Legal Answers.
The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) and Tennessee Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (TN VOAD) – They have set up a call center to provide information for those who would like to donate goods and volunteer to help survivors. For a list of the most-needed items, please visit http://mypf.social/pfdonationneeds. The call center is staffed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily; the phone number is 866-586-4483.
Several affordable housing groups in the area are also working on ways to provide assistance to the families. In the meantime, if you, or someone you know has been displaced by the wildfires and are in need of emergency housing, please refer to the Tennessee Housing Development Agency’s disaster response service at https://thda.org/emergency-housing/emergency-housing .