EAST TENNESSEE - East Tennessee is providing a warm welcome to hundreds of Irma evacuees.
Irma, which smashed into Florida early Sunday as a Category 4 hurricane with 130 mph winds, weakened to a tropical depression late Monday as officials slowly pieced together the scope of the storm's destructive path across the peninsula.
As many evacuees are getting ready to head home to assess the damage, the storm wasn't their only battle after they evacuated.
But folks in East Tennessee did their best to ease the burden.
KenJo in Lenoir City
Amberly Shorette and her family came to East Tennessee to escape Hurricane Irma.
She lost several days of pay and will lose even more in the coming days as she, her husband, 4-year-old, 1-year-old, and three cats make the drive back to Florida.
As they began to make their way back home, they worried that they did not have enough money to buy gas for their trip back to Florida. They stopped for gas at the KenJo in Lenoir City where they met a kind stranger and everything changed.
"The guy reached his hand out and shook my husbands hand and said you know that the Lord loves you," said Shorette. "And when my husband opened his hand, there was a $100 bill in his hand."
The stranger saw the Florida license plate on the family car and wanted to help, slipping her husband $100 and helping them finish their journey home.
Shorette is now hoping to find the man who helped them. She believes he is from Alabama.
"To know now that we have cash and we're able to get back home, it was such a big sense of relief for us," Shorette said. "He impacted a family in a way that he probably doesn't even know."
Read the full Facebook post here:
Matlock Tire Service
A husband posted to Facebook Monday tipping his hat off to Matlock Tire Service and employee Craig Amburn in Lenoir City.
He said his wife, Martha, came across an evacuated family from Florida in need of help. Their car broke down and they had spent the last of their money to purchase an alternator for it. However, they couldn't afford to get the alternator installed.
The woman called Matlock Tire Service to reach out to their friend Craig for help. After the work was finished, they wouldn't let Martha pay the bill.
"It was paid in full by either Craig and Mariam Allen Amburn personally or by Matlock's," the post said.
Read the full post here:
The Old Mill
"You are probably here to escape the Hurricane Irma. My brother lives in Tallahassee, Fl. I am saddened to see such devastation in this beautiful state. I hope everything will turn out ok for you guys. Enclosed please accept my gift to you in case you need to buy a battery for your car. Also I am enclosing a meal ticket so you can come back to eat here.
Good luck and Thanks for visiting my restaurant
Mo Tamaddoni General Manager."
The Pigeon Forge restaurant left this note on the table of a couple from Brandon, Florida, that was avoiding Hurricane Irma. The woman posted to Facebook saying their car stopped working in The Old Mill's parking lot before lunch.
While a man parked next to them gave them a jump, the woman went inside to put their name on the wait list. The man who helped them just so happened to be the restaurant's general manager, Mo Tamaddoni.
He told them he had been running the restaurant for 23 years.
"He got us a table, and our lunch came out quicker than could be expected. As we finished up, our waitress put an envelope on our table and said it was from the manager, and that our meals were on the house. Inside was a voucher for free meals, $200 cash and a letter," the post says.
The woman was so surprised by the act of selflessness and generosity, she had to share on Facebook.
"I promise I will pay it forward!"
Read the full post here:
Yassin's Falafel House
Restaurant owner Yassin Terou posted to Facebook on Friday to let evacuees know they could come to his restaurant to get a free sandwich.
Terou is a Syrian refugee who came to the United States in 2011.
He said if you wanted to help evacuees, you could: "You can help us if you like by buying sandwich and write a love note for some who in really need for it in this hard time," the post said.
"We should help the people to get through this in their tough time," Terou said. "We need to take care of our friends and people so that somebody will take care of us if something happens."
Terou said that many evacuees have come to the restaurant to eat and he's hopeful even more will come.
People have come in and posted sticky notes on the restaurant's wall to pass on words of compassion to people visiting East Tennessee.
Read the full post here:
Six deaths in Florida have been blamed on Irma, along with three in Georgia and one in South Carolina. At least 35 people were killed in the Caribbean.
While now downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone, Irma's remnants still caused storm woes for many Tennesseans including people living in the Chattanooga area.
The outer fringes of the giant former hurricane whipped rain and winds across the state. Southeast Tennessee and Middle Tennessee appeared to get a stronger blow than Knoxville and the Tri Cities area.
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