Like so many others, I’ve been following the news footage from Gatlinburg all day. I spent so much of my childhood in that area, and have many special memories from my adult life there as well. It’s heartbreaking to see the destruction.
I’ve come across a few negative comments. We’re southerners, so we’re fairly accustomed to hearing ignorant, ill-informed, stereotypical comments coming at us. We generally just ignore those folks, with a sweet little, “bless their heart.”
But those condescending comments made along the lines of, “Why didn’t people get out sooner?”
“Why weren’t orders given to evacuate earlier?”
“Don’t people know to leave when there’s fire?!”
are really starting to irk me.
Allow me to explain something to those too obtuse to get it.
This. Was. A. Disaster.
In general, those don’t come with a lot of warning. And in more specific terms, this particular kind of disaster is not something we deal with very often. We have forest fires, yes. However, I don’t remember anything like this one in my lifetime. What happened yesterday was the result of a deadly combination of months of drought and ridiculously high winds coming up against a fire. There were gusts up to 87 miles per hour in the mountains That is not “normal” here.
Any of those 3 things are bad, but you put them all together and you have a guaranteed disaster.
We were prepared for wind, sure, but not a firestorm of wind. And that’s exactly what it was.
It’s so easy for those on the outside of a situation to see just exactly how things SHOULD have been done. It’s easy to say, “Well I would have……”
And certainly, there are likely people who have learned a hard lesson. They’ll probably be more prepared if they face this kind of situation again. But the fact remains, this was not a hurricane that was forecast with 2 weeks notice. This was a disaster with very little warning.
Gatlinburg will come back. Don’t you worry about that. That’s what we “mountain people,” do.
In the meantime, pray for all the people, families, animals, businesses, livelihoods, and spirits dealing with the aftermath. If you can help, help. And take care of each other.