GATLINBURG, TN (WJHL) – It’s been almost six months after deadly wildfires ripped through Gatlinburg and parts of Sevier County, and recovery efforts to rebuild homes are underway.
Fourteen people were killed and hundreds of homes and businesses were destroyed in the fires, which caused over half a billion dollars in damage to the area.
On Tuesday, the Mountain Tough Recovery Team, along with the Appalachia Service Project and the United Methodist Church Partnership came together to rebuild the homes and the lives of those impacted by the wildfires.
Glenna Ogle, a Gatlinburg homeowner who lost everything in the wildfires, was overcome with emotion Tuesday at the groundbreaking of what will soon be her new home.
“I praise God for having all this. I know everything comes from Him. Thank you all very much,” Ogle said. “I’m 76 years old. Never had to ask for anything or get any help, but now I’m getting it from everywhere.”
Ellen Willhoit, chair of the Mountain Tough Recovery Team said they are taking a holistic approach to helping the families impacted by the wildfires.
“We’re going to have an executive director and six case managers that are going to work with these families to understand where the gap are, what they have and what they need,” Willhoit said.
When asked about what she was looking forward to most about her new home, Ogle said she wanted to “move back in, have a home, a place to sleep (and) a place to worship.”
The Appalachia Service Project, headquartered in Johnson City, teamed up to help this community in East Tennessee recover and rebuild.
“Glenna’s (home) will be the first,” Walter Crouch, with CEO of Appalachia Service Project, said. “We are working on a couple other sites getting permits right now and we’re ready to get started.”
The Mountain Tough Recovery Team is working with Appalachia Service Project and the United Methodist Church Partnership to build 25 homes during the next year.
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