GATLINBURG (WATE) – Three months after wildfires ripped through Sevier County, the community is still coming together to pick up the pieces.
After the fires, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) set up recovery centers in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. Friday, the recovery centers will close up shop at 6:00 p.m.
Wildfire survivors like Angie Daniels hope to rebuild their lives after losing so much to disaster.
“I just got engaged to my fiance,” she said, “and unfortunately I wasn’t wise enough to get renter’s insurance so I lost everything in the fire.”
Daniels, along with more than 1,300 others, turned to FEMA for help.
“I do not use the government for anything, and I’m here for the first time to see if there’s anything I can do,” Daniels said.
Federal disaster assistance is available to eligible individuals and households, as well as those who were working in or visiting Sevier County between November 28 and December and had disaster related damage. The deadline to apply is February 13. So far more than $6 million in disaster assistance has been given for housing and needs assistance.
Michael Peacock, FEMA External Affairs Officer said while the agency cannot replace all that was lost, they hope to help offset a financial burden for wildfire victims.
“Our main objective here is to provide the services that they need in order to help them recover as quickly as possible and in terms of FEMA, that’s in the form of grant assistance,” Peacock said.
Daniels does not yet know how much FEMA assistance she will qualify for, and she admits it will be a long road ahead for her family. She says it is comforting to know she has her loved ones by her side as she begins the rebuilding journey.
“At the end of the day, I have my beautiful fiance, and my boys are safe and his kids are safe and our neighbors are safe, and that’s more than anything else,” she said. “A couple of them almost didn’t make it out.”