NRB member organizations are responding to the deadly wildfires that broke out last week in eastern Tennessee, including the resort cities of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.
Samaritan’s Purse reported Tuesday that it had deployed a Disaster Relief Unit – a tractor-trailer stocked with relief supplies – to the area. The unit, which will be based at First Baptist Church in Gatlinburg, will serve as the organization’s command center.
“Families in Tennessee are reeling from this tremendous loss, and the wildfires continue to burn,” said Franklin Graham, President of Samaritan’s Purse, in a ministry report. “We want to share the love of Jesus Christ by coming alongside them and helping them sift through the ashes.”
Crisis-trained chaplains with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s Rapid Response Team will also be ministering in the area, providing emotional and spiritual care to residents and first-responders.
“So many people are broken and hurting because of this blaze, especially those who have lost their homes and loved ones,” said Jack Munday, International Director of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team, in a press release. “After meeting with local leaders and business owners, we’re responding to meet the emotional and spiritual needs of all those who have been impacted by this inferno.”
News reports indicate that at least 14 lost their lives in the fire, which is being called “the worst wildfire disaster in Tennessee in a century.”
Fueled by high winds topping 90 mph, raging wildfires swept through the Great Smoky Mountains beginning November 28, destroying or damaging more than 2,400 homes, businesses, and churches in the normally booming tourist town of Gatlinburg. More than 14,000 visitors and residents were evacuated, and many of those who remained are now staying in shelters. In addition to the lives that have been lost, more than 160 people have been injured while dozens of people are still missing.
Somebody Cares – which has mobilized a team to connect with its partners on the ground, assess the damage, and determine specific needs – is urging its supporters to pray for the people of Gatlinburg and consider giving a donation to help.
“Those who lost their homes are in need of everything from shelter, food, and medicine, to personal hygiene items, household goods, new clothing, and so much more,” the organization reported.
Samaritan’s Purse is also urging its supporters to pray for wisdom as it works with emergency management officials and ministry partners in Gatlinburg to determine how the organization can best assist homeowners in Jesus’ name and show them His compassion.
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By NRB Staff
Published: December 8, 2016