Hundreds still staying in shelters after East TN wildfires - WSMV News 4

Hundreds still staying in shelters after wildfires in Smoky Mountains

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Hundreds of people lost their homes and businesses in the wildfires. (WSMV) Hundreds of people lost their homes and businesses in the wildfires. (WSMV)
GATLINBURG, TN (WSMV) -

More than 200 people are staying in shelters in the Gatlinburg area anxiously awaiting when they will be able to go see if their homes are still standing.

Many people at this point have already heard news about their homes but want to see how bad the damage is.

One woman who has been at a shelter for two nights said it was heartbreaking to not only lose her home but to also learn her neighbor had died in the fire.

"It's been overwhelming. Very overwhelming. My faith is the only thing pushing me to stay calm," said Heather Stargle.

Shari Dason said she is going to take it all one day at a time.

"We don't know where we are going, if our place is still standing. One minute we hear it's still standing, the next we hear everything around it is gone. So we are going to wait until we can go down there and actually see it," she said.

Every person at the shelters has a story to tell. Several of them barely made it down the mountains while flames were surrounding them.

One couple lost close to 30 of their 131 cabins. These cabins are how they make a living, and on Monday night, they watched it all go up in flames.

"It was very devastating; we were both speechless. That's our livelihood, that is the town's livelihood, the tourism business," said Lambrey Sancreek, who is the owner of Mountaineer Cleaning and Maintenance. "That is what we depend on and here we are at the holidays and that is all I could think of what are we going to do."

Fortunately, all of the couple's guests made it out safely the day before. Since it was Thanksgiving weekend, every single one of their cabins was booked, so the couple feels incredibly fortunate that the fire spread Monday and not over the weekend.

"Oh, it's devastating, I mean it absolutely is. We got up into the Chalet Village area yesterday and only got halfway up the ridge before we got turned back around and what we saw from the base of it going up was that there was nothing going up," said Mike Fulenwidder, owner of Mountaineer Cleaning and Maintenance.

One thing for is for certain: This community is strong and they are ready to pick up the pieces.

As for donations, the Red Cross says they have all the necessities. They need money for later down the road so the city can start to rebuild. Click here for more information on how to donate.

Channel 4 will be hosting a fundraiser for wildfire victims on Friday. Click here for more information.

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