Overwhelming odds sounds good doesn’t it? We use the term to talk about odds balanced in favor of some victor. The past week the people in our area have been overwhelmed by wildfires. Loss u
pon loss. In our specific community, we also lost beloved community members who changed this area by activism and/or love and kindness. Living in the Appalachians is a blessing because of the wonder of nature and the majesty of the mountains. Vacationers often don’t know the poverty that lives behind the hotels and resorts.
Not everyone lives in poverty of course. There are those who are able to make a decent living. But according to the US Census of 2015, 23.5% of our population in Jackson County lives in poverty. The surrounding counties will be similar. Many of those who live in poverty work hard and are employed seasonally working at resorts in the area. From Memorial Day in May to the last Fall leaf tourist date, that is the time when those resorts and those families make the money to live through winter.
Our area was hard hit by the economy. It looked like we might have a good year in 2016 because nothing really bad happened…until the wildfires. Not only has this ended jobs early for many in our area, the promise of a job in the spring has been burned to the ground for those in Gatlinburg. I have no idea how many of our people drive to Gatlinburg to work. It’s surprising what people will do to live in the mountains and survive. One of my previous co-workers drove two hours one-way to have a good job, but live where it was good for his young family.
As you approach this holiday season, I ask you to consider the folks in Western NC and in Tennessee who have lost their sources of income (most people in our area work several jobs). Below are only a few organizations working to restore trails, homes, and keep fires at bay. There are still several fires that could become active again. Thank you for taking time to read this. God bless you.
Places your donations can make a difference