Smokies prepare for storms from Hurricane Irma

The GSMNP is preparing for storms from Irma.

GATLINBURG - With the potential rain and wind from Hurricane Irma set to hit East Tennessee, The Great Smoky Mountains National Park campgrounds could be evacuated this weekend.

A spokesperson says the elements could create dangerous conditions especially for campers.

Campers like Chris Holt and his family, who traded the salt water of his Florida home for the fresh water of the Little River in the Smokies.

"We decided I'm not staying, I'm going, I'm outta here," said Holt. "[It's the] Smoky Mountains...might as well make a little vacation out of it. It doesn't all have to be bad."

He's trying to make some good out of having to evacuate because of Hurricane Irma's threat.

"Let's take the family and go see the Smoky Mountains and go do a little adventure," said Holt.

It's not just evacuees.

The campgrounds are packed for the weekend, with people enjoying some of the first fall-like weather.

But it could be cut short.

"If Hurricane Irma stays true to its projection right now, we are going to have winds approximately 40 to 70 miles per hour," said Park Spokesperson Jamie Sanders. "And with significant amounts of rain."

Sanders says the park could evacuate campers if the weather gets too dangerous.

"Well historically with any kind of weather event that we have, we have a whole range of situations that could occur," said Sanders.

Landslides, trees down and flooding are all concerns.

But Sanders says they're focusing on communication to make sure campers stay safe.

"These situations always reinforce the need to have really good plans in place, and to have adequate communication," said Sanders.

While the park prepares for heavy rain, Holt plans on avoiding it.

"Our plan was to get out Sunday at 8 a.m. as soon as it hit the coast of Florida and give us a better idea of where it was going to track," said Holt.

© 2017 WBIR.COM


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