GATLINBURG (WATE) – A Gatlinburg couple is the first to rebuild their home in the Baskins Creek area, one of the hardest hit by the wildfires.
Robin Nelson and her husband’s home once stood right along the creek.
“It was built in 1956. It was a little cottage, had glass doorknobs, gingerbread molding,” said Nelson.
It was the only home her 4-year-old daughter had known. They would have been living in the house for five years in February, but that all changed on November 28.
“I put mail in the mailbox for the next day. We thought we were coming home the next day,” she said.
The rest of her street and many others in Gatlinburg thought the same thing.
“What do you do? It was a total displace because it wasn’t just our house. It was our whole community. We know everybody,” she said.
In the past six months, they have moved five times. However, next to where their home used to stand is a sign of moving forward. It hasn’t been easy getting to this point. Their old home had been grandfathered in to new regulations, but the new one isn’t. It needs to be built further from the creek and higher off the ground.
“Every time we thought we had done what we’re supposed to do there was something else, another hoop to jump through,” Nelson said.
Nelson says while they’re happy to be able to move back to the place they called home, it also won’t be quite the same because many of the neighbors they knew and loved so well have decided not to rebuild here.
“We are coming back but it’s not the same and it won’t ever be the same,” said Nelson.
Despite the stress of getting to this point, it’s still a homecoming they can’t wait for.
“This is a very, very, very special place and we wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. We couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. We had to get back here,” Nelson said.