‘Mountain Tough’ became household phrase just hours after wildfires


GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WKRN) – Just hours after the fires began burning in Gatlinburg on Nov. 28, the terms Smoky Strong and Mountain Tough became household phrases.

“We are the strongest community I’ve ever seen,” said Mayor Mike Werner at the time.

The mayor told everyone the people in his city are as tough as the mountains themselves.

“We are such a strong community. We are such a family here,” he said.

And ever since then, Mountain Tough has been used to describe a task force aimed to help get people back on their feet.

“They just need a group or organization to let them know that they care and to give them help,” said Jackie Leatherwood, the general manager of Greystone Lodge on the River.

(Photo: WKRN)

Leatherwood is one of the leaders of the non-profit helping the uninsured and underinsured.

“We are thinking that anywhere around 300 families are still impacted with needs,” she told News 2.

The task force is mirrored after a team in Texas, but Leatherwood believes this group has a tougher mission ahead.

“We were able to take their lead on things, which put us months ahead of schedule,” she explained.

Leatherwood told News 2 it’s hard to know what challenges will come for those down the road, but they’re doing everything they can.

“We will assist those people that meet those requirements for things, even such as transportation, medical expenses,” she said.

She hopes the love and kindness that she felt last November will continue for years to come.

“From Mountain City to Memphis, Tennessee, we received so many blessings across the state. It just showed that there is kindness,” Leatherwood said.

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