Appalachia Service Project dedicated two newly constructed homes in Gatlinburg to wildfire victims earlier this month. The organization is building new homes as a part of their disaster recovery efforts in Sevier County after wildfires swept through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg, and Pigeon Forge in November of 2016. The fire killed 14 people and destroyed over 2,800 buildings, eventually burning over 17,000 acres of land.
These are the third and fourth homes to be completed as a part of the organizations’s 25-home commitment to help low-income residents of Sevier County recover after the wildfires. The first went to Glenna Ogle who lost her home, vehicle, pets, and belongings in the fire. The second went to Ernest Ogle down the road, who was just able to celebrate his 75th birthday in his new home.
The third home was presented to Ernest’s older sister, Trula Mae Bible, an 84-year-old blind woman. Ernest and Trula Mae grew up in the house that has since burnt, and now they will reside as neighbors in newly constructed homes. The fourth recipient is Carroll McKinney who lost both his home and his business in the fire. These homes were constructed by Appalachia Service Project volunteers from Grace Meadows Church, Ball Camp Baptist Church of Knoxville, and Midwest Men’s Missions.
Appalachia Service Project has already begun construction on three additional homes and necessary permits are being drawn for five more, with plans to have a total of 12 homes in various stages of construction within the next month. The organization is currently seeking skilled local volunteers to join in the efforts of these projects, you may contact [email protected] for volunteering information.
Partners for the 25 homes the organization has committed to building in the next year include the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church, Mullican Flooring, Volunteer East Tennessee, Mullican Flooring, Cherokee Partners, AmeriCorps, the American Red Cross of East Tennessee, the Dollywood Foundation, Tennessee Housing Development Authority, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati, and the Mountain Tough Recovery Team.
Mountain Tough Recovery Team continues to be the lead recovery organization, accepting applications from families seeking site cleanup, home repairs, new home construction and individualized recovery assistance related to the Sevier County, TN wildfires in November 2016. To apply, visit Mountain Tough’s website at www.mountaintough.org and complete the pre-application or call the Mountain Tough office at 865-436-8112. Volunteers and donors interested in helping with site cleanup, replacement home construction and home furnishings may visit http://www.mountaintough.org/i-want-to-help/ for details on how they can get involved.
Appalachia Service Project has experience with helping communities rebuild after disasters. In 2012, the organization built 25 homes for families who had lost their homes to massive flooding in Washington County, Tenn. And in 2016, it launched a multi-year project to help rebuild homes in Greenbrier County and surrounding areas for families whose homes were destroyed by flooding. ASP has already completed their first 54 homes that will be built for low-income families in Greenbrier County and surrounding area in West Virginia.