GATLINBURG (WATE) – When Pennsylvania couple Janice and JR Haun got married last year, they had no idea they would also be forming a lifelong relationship with the chapel’s groundskeeper and a veteran.
“He told us, ‘Y’all got to come up sometime for hot dogs on the grill,’ and he was just a fabulous man,” said Janice Haun.
The couple kept in touch and thought of Jottie Hand often, causing them to panic the night of the wildfires.
“We tried to call him. We couldn’t get a hold of him. So after a couple of days we called the chapel at the park and they asked him to call us. They told us at that time that he had lost everything,” she said.
The Hauns and Jottie Hand have since been reunited. The two couples are trying to piece back together the Hands’ lives.
“I came down and measured the house up where it was, all the piers and everything, did a rough sketch, went over everything with him and did a rough sketch of what it was,” said JR Haun.
The Hauns say they are determined to rebuild the Hands’ home.
“It’s been overwhelming. Somebody come this far that I haven’t known more than a year to putting everything they’ve got into helping us rebuild,” said Hand.
Hand says he did not have homeowner’s insurance, but he did have fire insurance. The out-of-pocket costs are far more than the insurance compensation he was given. The Hauns have started a YouCaring page to help raise money for the rebuild. They are also looking for workers like carpenter Lance Holt.
“She put that out on Facebook wondering if anyone could help out with donations or not, and said I don’t have a lot of money but I can donate my time,” said Holt.
Hand says he is forever grateful.
‘I’ve never asked nobody for nothing. I’ve been a giver, my wife and I, our whole lives. When someone gives us something, it brings tears to our eyes,” he said.
More online: Donate to the Jottie Hand relief fund