“If you really want to do something for Gatlinburg, come back and visit us,” Werner said in a Nov. 30 press conference.
“Many of our city’s 6,000 residents, as well as those of our friends and family in Gatlinburg, are dependent on the tourism industry for jobs to care for themselves and their families,” said Leon Downey, Pigeon Forge executive director of tourism. “As our communities move forward, our industry has an obligation to our residents and employees to encourage visitation to the area and sustain our businesses.”
Pigeon Forge businesses were not damaged during this week’s fires, and businesses are operating as usual. The city’s Winterfest festival continues, including several Christmas shows at various theaters. Dollywood theme park reopens on Friday, Dec. 2. Restaurants and lodging properties are operating on normal schedules.
City-wide support includes 30 Pigeon Forge firefighters currently stationed in Wears Valley.
Of the 500 evacuees in Pigeon Forge, fewer than 20 remain in the Pigeon Forge Community Center shelter.
“We are heartbroken by the devastation we’ve seen in Gatlinburg,” said Pigeon Forge City Manager Earlene Teaster. “But I speak on behalf of all our Pigeon Forge tourism partners when I say that we offer our constant prayers and encouragement for everyone affected and stand alongside them as they work to rebuild.”
The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) and Tennessee Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (TN VOAD) have set up a call center to provide information for those who would like to donate goods and volunteer to help survivors. For a list of the most-needed items, please visit http://mypf.social/
pfdonationneeds. The call center is staffed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily; the phone number is 866-586-4483.
To support displaced residents and visitors, Pigeon Forge established a distribution center to disperse donated food and supplies. Located just off the Parkway in Pigeon Forge in the former Boyds Bear building at 149 Cates Lane, the facility is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m.