Support for the Gatlinburg community has been pouring in from all over the country since the devastating fires tore through more than a week ago. This week, Team Rubicon, a special group of veterans dedicated to service, showed up to help the fire victims rebuild what they lost.
Members of Team Rubicon, like Andrew Hanna, an army veteran, have been in Gatlinburg since Monday getting ready to head out on their various missions.
“Our goal is to bring a little bit back to them and do whatever we can to assist them in recovering any possessions that might have survived the fire. Help them get back to normal," Hanna said.
That’s what the team does, when a disaster strikes they come in to the area and bring some much needed relief. Team Rubicon also responded to the ice storm in Cumberland County in February 2015.
“It's definitely worth our time and effort to get what we can for them after going through something like this," Hanna added.
He has had the chance to see some of the devastation for himself since arriving Monday. He compares it to what he saw overseas.
“When people ask me to describe what you see in a community that’s been affected by a wildfire, the only thing I can compare to is a place that’s been bombed," Hanna said.
The similar sights render the same emotions for the veteran.
“You drive around an area like this, and it really hits home," he mentioned.
This team has a dedication to service and a devotion to helping people. For Hanna, it's been an incredible opportunity.
“It's near and dear to all of our hearts is the opportunity to serve. It’s the reason many of us put on the uniform in the first place and we love that opportunity to still come out and here and be able to impact people to serve and assist in what we do," he said.
It also gives the volunteer veterans a sense of community even if they are seeing the area for the first time.
"It’s what makes us work the hours we do, come out here, take time away from our families, our loved ones to spend time here to try and give that to them because it is so devastating to see," he said.
Team Rubicon plans on starting their recovery missions this weekend and they are always looking for volunteers.
The team partnered with Toolbank Disaster Services to start their relief mission. Toolbank Disaster Services provides groups with an entire semi-truck full of tools and supplies for volunteers to use.
You have to be older than 18 to help and have the proper attire like warm clothes and solid work boots before heading out to the neighborhoods that need help the most.
For more information, click here.