GATLINBURG (WATE) – WATE 6 On Your Side anchor Ryan O’Donnell spoke with Gatlinburg City Manager Cindy Ogle Friday, hours after the city reopened to the public following the wildfires. Ogle herself lost her home in the fires.
RYAN O’DONNELL: “Cindy Ogle has gone through a lot herself, and she is now the biggest instrument in rebuilding here in Gatlinburg today. Monumental event as it reopens to the public.”
CITY MANAGER CINDY OGLE: “Absolutely. And I don’t know that I’m the biggest instrumental factor. I appreciate that. But it is a good day as we move into this recovery and we see traffic, we see people on the sidewalks, we see people carrying bags. Those are all extremely encouraging signs of our recovery.”
O’DONNELL: “Now, you guys reopened earlier than expected. I assume that that’s a great sign, but have you seen any hiccups as today was the first day to reopen for the businesses and such?”
OGLE: “Well, to be honest with you, this is the first time I’ve been out today, and I’ve heard of none. That’s not to say there have not been any, but I haven’t heard of any at this stage in the game. I would like to make a couple of comments if I could, as it relates to all the city departments and all of the city employees that have been so instrumental in getting us to this point today. It goes without saying that our police and fire departments are the best in the country, but we also have some really great other departments, and they’re the instrumental pieces in getting this town reopened.”
O’DONNELL: “And speaking of some of them, they’re actually going to be out as we look forward and head out to the weekend, some of them are going to be out and working around, so just a heads up to the people coming to visit.”
OGLE: “That is correct. I think most of the electric system and utility work, certainly from the city utility perspective, we have a couple of major pump stations that we are still dealing with in a couple areas of town that are not going to have the water that they would like to have. Electric system, which by the way, has done an absolutely incredible job with this. We can’t say enough as it relates to the Sevier County Electric System and what they have done. But yes, there will continue to be some areas where there will be some utility work going on, some road clearing – not clearing, all the roads are clear – but still cleaning up. We ask the people to be careful and to be patient. That’s where we are with this.”