We know everyone is anxious to hear news about the recovery efforts of the Fire of 2016. They say it was a hundred year fire, but the fire troopers who came to fight it told us they'd never seen the like of it anywhere in their lives. They told us they'd seen similar acreage eaten up by firestorms, but this fire was eating a town and it's neighbor at the speed of 62 miles an hour. Only with your help can we rebuild. Don't stop coming to your Smokies. We rely on tourist dollars to rebuild. So come back. Stay awhile.
Both Bob and Jackie lost their homes in the fire, and many of you have called us or come in to speak to us after seeing one or the other of us on TV. There were lots of reporters camped out in the parking lot, because they closed the road to Gatlinburg right in front of the store. As a result, we and our staff were interviewed many times. We appreciate your kind words and deeds so much. You can't imagine how much it meant to us to know we were in your thoughts and prayers.
There were over a thousand structures affected in this fire, and 14 confirmed deaths that they could identify. They don't release a number of unconfirmed "unidentified" deaths, not ever. This fire burned everything it came into contact with until there was only ashes left. We had a hefty alien population of workers who lived in meager housing in Gatlinburg. There was never enough housing for the local population as it was, and now it's just nowhere to be found. We know we lost some of these hard workers, but until a family member calls to ask where their relative went, we simply don't know that they're gone. The businesses they worked in were destroyed. It takes a while to rebuild from that level of destruction, but we are all trying.
Jackie is in the process of building her house back and Bob is settled into his condo with his new wife, Carrie.
Many of the people who lost cabins are selling their lots so we hope that some of you will start to build your own dream home here. They are going at great prices because many people are just taking the insurance settlements and letting the property go cheap. We're really nice folks to have as neighbors, so you should think about buying while the price is right.
As you might guess, Ma Nature is doing her best to come back to life. Oh to be sure, there are still ashes, so you know that God isn't finished with is yet, but oh, there is beauty to be found among the ashes.