Gatlinburg Police Department thankful for Dolly's My People Fund
People across Gatlinburg watched Tuesday night's "Smoky Mountains Rise" telethon in Nashville.
The telethon raised "millions" of dollars for Dolly Parton's My People Fund, which will donate to families who lost their homes in the Sevier County fires.
Businesses in Gatlinburg have reopened, and many folks are trying to get back to what’s being called a new normal. It includes police officers who worked around the clock. Some even did that despite losing their homes.
When fires picked up in Sevier County, Gatlinburg police officers worked to evacuate homes and setting up road blocks. Two of the department's officers lost their homes in the fires.
“She said 'let me work, I’ve got to finish. I don’t need to worry about myself I need to worry about everyone else,'” said Chief Randall Brackins.
Brackins has spent his entire career with the department, and called the devastation the worst he’s ever seen.
“You just can’t believe what’s occurred in one incident,” Brackins said.
A challenging night got more difficult for dispatchers when Gatlinburg evacuated had to evacuate.
“Scary, it was obviously, smoke, debris everywhere. Phones were down," said dispatcher Alicia McKinney. "I couldn’t get a hold of my family. it was scary."
Firefighter and paramedic Amanda Perryman lost her home in the fires. She and her husband skipped a vacation to come home and help fight the fire, but quickly found themselves too close to the flames.
“We weren’t here three minutes and my husband was yelling 'we’ve got to go.' I didn’t think we were going to make it out,” Perryman said.
The 45-officer department is thankful for help from a law enforcement community and in the recovery.
"There are no words to how grateful we are. The phone calls we’ve taken with people wanting to volunteer, the give donations," McKinney said. "The assistance we’ve gotten, it’s amazing."
The department is also glad to see Dolly Parton and country music stars working to raise money for families affected by the fires.
“We’re so grateful and honored to have such people help us try and get back on our feet,” McKinney said.
Dolly’s My People Fund will give $1,000 a month for up to six months families that qualify for help. Brackins believes that aid over several months will really make a difference.
“We don’t want to just see you get started we want to see you succeed, and I think that’s what she’s doing with her telethon,” Brackins said.
The Gatlinburg Police Department is currently working give Christmas presents to children in need, a group that’s gotten a bigger due to the wildfires.