Review of recovery, response continues after Gatlinburg, Sevier County wildfire

PIGEON FORGE (WATE) – Recovery and rebuilding are on the minds of Sevier County wildfire victims and their families.

Results from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s review and updates from the Emergency Management Agency were part of the Pigeon Forge Tourism Talk Tuesday at the LeConte Center.

“There were lots of places for animals to escape harm’s way, either by fleeing, flying or burrowing. We didn’t see a lot of loss on the surveys that were conducted on the months of December. We know that we had two bears that succumbed to injuries. Other than that, we didn’t see any other effects.” said Dana Soehn, spokesperson with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Soehn said the GSMNP review team found the impact from the wildfires was mosaic, meaning some parts were more severely damaged than others. Two percent of the park was damaged by the fire and of that, 65 percent was lightly burned, 25 percent moderately burned, and 10 percent had a high burn rate in areas within the park perimeter.

Final review results will be released to the public in June.

The Emergency Management Agency will also conduct a third party review process after the wildfires.

“Other companies that went to Hurricane Katrina, Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Matthew, that had devastating events in their communities they reached out to similar firms that do a study to the whole entire incident when it comes to response and recovery and they put in what’s called an after action review.” said Jon Matthews, EMA Director.

The third party review company has not yet been chosen, but Matthews says every city involved will have a voice in the process. Review results will be shared with emergency development agencies and the public when the review is final.

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