A team of Samaritan's Purse disaster relief specialists is arriving in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, following a devastating wildfire that burned more than 17,000 acres, forced thousands to evacuate, killed at least 14 people and damaged more than 1,700 structures, including hundreds of homes.
"Families in Tennessee are reeling from this tremendous loss, and the wildfires continue to burn," said Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan's Purse. "We want to share the love of Jesus Christ by coming alongside them in their time of need and helping them sift through the ashes."
The North Carolina-based organization is calling on its vast network of volunteers from around the country to respond and help Tennessee families recover from the fire. Teams will assist homeowners in fire cleanup and sifting through the ashes to recover personal belongings such as photo albums and other keepsakes.
Samaritan's Purse will also send a Disaster Relief Unit, a tractor-trailer stocked with tools and relief supplies, which will serve as the command center. The unit will be based at First Baptist Church of Gatlinburg in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Volunteers will be housed at Gum Stand Baptist Church in nearby Pigeon Forge.
A team of chaplains from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association's Rapid Response Team has also been deployed to help wildfire victims. They will be working alongside Samaritan's Purse to provide emotional and spiritual encouragement in the community.
Samaritan's Purse has helped more than 29,000 families in 35 U.S. states following floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, fires and ice storms. In the past six months, the organization has helped victims of Hurricane Matthew in the Carolinas and Haiti, responded to floods in Mississippi and Louisiana, and recently provided aid to victims of the deadly tornadoes in Mississippi.
Photo courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com
Publication date: December 8, 2016