Dept. of Labor sets up mobile job centers in Sevier County - WSMV News 4

Dept. of Labor sets up mobile job centers in Sevier County

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(WSMV file photo) (WSMV file photo)

The wildfires in East Tennessee have left hundreds of people without jobs. Many of them are now filing for unemployment.

But how long can they expect to wait before getting paid considering thousands of others are still waiting months since the system upgrade?

The lines were long Thursday in and around Gatlinburg as people waited to file for unemployment. But the Channel 4 I-Team has learned those affected by the wildfires will have to wait their turn with the thousands of others still waiting to get paid.

In Sevierville, those affected by the wildfires filed for unemployment at one of the four mobile job centers in Sevier County.

Aggie Anderson worked at the Tree Tops Resort. The popular vacation spot is now a pile of rubble.

"I was working at the time, we were just trying to get people out. I was going door to door, knocking, pulling fire alarms, just getting them out,” Anderson said.

Anderson has not been back to the resort yet to see what it looks like. But now that she's out of work and unclear when she’ll have a job again, she's trying to get financial help. She said the support of others is what gets her through the day.

"So much generosity,” Anderson said. “I’ve never seen so much generosity in my life.”

But how long will Anderson and the hundreds of others now jobless be waiting?

"Folks who are here in Sevier County filing for unemployment will go into the system as any other unemployment claim would,” said Chris Cannon with the Tennessee Department of Labor.

For months the I-Team has been reporting on delays and the backlog in the state’s unemployment benefits. As of Oct. 31, the department is processing less than 40 percent of its claims within 21 days, leaving thousands of Tennesseans waiting weeks or months to get paid.

Cannon said if employers affected by the wildfires file a mass layoff with them, it will speed things up and get these people paid faster.

"With this we have all that information on the front end. These claims can come into the system, cross-match with the mass layoff list and claims will be approved and expedited as quickly as possible,” Cannon said.

Cannon said if this gets done people could get paid within a week, allowing a cushion for people like Anderson who just need some help in a time of need.

The addresses of the mobile job centers are 149 Cates Lane in Pigeon Forge and 1216 Graduate Drive in Sevierville.

Click here for information on how to apply for unemployment after the wildfires.

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