TN politician commentary on Sevier County fires

Tennessee politicians are voicing concern over the fires that have ravaged Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and other parts of Sevier County. Here’s a sampler from emails sent to media:

From U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander:

“This is heartbreaking news for the people of Sevier County and all who love the Smokies. My staff and I are working with Gov. Haslam and local officials to make certain that there is maximum federal support to help fight the fires and deal with the consequences of the fires.”

From U.S. Sen. Bob Corker’s news release:

“I am heartbroken to see the damage caused by the ongoing fires in Sevier County,” said Corker. “While the full extent of the damage will become clear over the course of the day, we know that many have suffered tremendous loss.”

 “Sevier County is a special place surrounded by some of the country’s most beautiful God-given amenities and is where my wife, Elizabeth, was raised,” continued Corker. “So many wonderful families call this place home and millions from around the world visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park each year. We are committed to doing all we can in the coming weeks to help these communities rebuild.” 

“Members of my senior staff have been and will remain in close contact with community, state and local officials, and we continue to extend our thoughts and prayers to all those who have been in harm’s way,” concluded Corker.

From Gov. Bill Haslam (initial statement, prior to visiting area Tuesday)

“The state is proving a coordinated response, including the National Guard, to help all those affected by the devastating wildfires burning in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and throughout the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. TEMA encourages residents in Sevier County to stay off mobile devices, unless it is an emergency, to prevent outage.”

State Sen. Doug Overbey (whose district includes Sevier County):

“My thoughts and prayers continue to go out to those who have suffered catastrophic loss or have been displaced due to the wildfires in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and other portions of Sevier County.  I am grateful to the first responders, medical professionals, local law enforcement, city and state officials, and National Guardsmen and women who are working to assist our citizens in need.  We are very grateful for the help of those who have come from near and far to help in this time of great need.” 

 “This disaster has demonstrated the great courage and volunteer spirit of the people of Tennessee.  This will be a long recovery as the devastation and loss which has occurred here is overwhelming, but we find comfort in the outpouring of support that is coming in worldwide.”

Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Mary Mancini

“The historic wildfires in Sevier County are heartbreaking for the more than 14,000 families and many businesses in East Tennessee who have been affected. The Volunteer State is not just a nickname in Tennessee, it is a way a life and today is no different. Now, with so many volunteer opportunities and ways to donate through the East Tennessee American Red Cross, we must come together and help in anyway that we can.”

From state Attorney General Herbert Slatery

“I am praying for the safety of everyone in Sevier County and for those fighting the fires. I have friends with homes and businesses in the area, many of whom have learned their property has been damaged or destroyed. As Tennesseans, we are inclined to help our neighbors in any way we can. If you plan to donate, I urge you to do so only to charities you trust. Donating to well established charities and organizations is the best way to ensure your generosity helps those in need.”

From U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann

“I am extremely saddened by the devastation left by last night’s severe storms in Polk and McMinn counties,” said Fleischmann.  “My thoughts and prayers are with the people of these wonderful counties, especially the families who lost loved ones, those injured and the first responders who are currently on the ground.  Please know I am monitoring this situation closely and am in constant contact with local officials.”

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