Gatlinburg wildfire survivors send message of hope to fire-ravaged California

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WATE) – As communities are evacuated and wildfires rip through California wine country, wildfire survivors in East Tennessee feel as if they’re reliving that traumatic night in November 2016.

Some Gatlinburg wildfire survivors say they’re losing sleep and seeing images of the devastation out west is causing their healing process to take steps back.

No matter which channel is on at the Morris house, every piece of news from California is hard to see.

“You relive that night and your heart just sinks for those people,” said Jane Morris.

She says there’s a connection deeper than that.

“Just heartfelt, soul-searching sadness,” she said.

More: Winds whip new terror into deadly California wildfires

The Morris family, among so many others, survived the Gatlinburg wildfires last November. They escaped just like thousands of families in California are doing right now.

“When it showed the fires and someone driving down the road, and the embers, and you’re going ‘Whoa…’ It was like what we saw,” said Morris.

They’re praying for Californians who have to go home to ashes.

“God we just feel so bad for those people,” added Morris.

Wildfire survivors hoping families out west find safety and strength.

“When you see the fact that they don’t have rain in sight. We had the rain, and we not had the rain it would’ve been a whole lot worse,” said Morris.

What got their family through the toughest nights was the kindness pouring into the community and their instruments they were able to save from the fire. Morris adding a word of advice to wildfire survivors in California.

“It’s going to be hard, but you’ll get through it.”

Some East Tennessee wildfire survivors say they wish they could go to California communities destroyed by the fire so they could give everyone a hug, adding it was hugs that helped them the most last November.

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