GATLINBURG - One month after wildfires spread across Gatlinburg, Mayor Mike Werner is urging the community to move forward.
Werner lost his own home and business, the Highlands Condominiums, in the fire, but he is already starting the process to clear the lot at his house to start the rebuilding process.
"This is an opportunity to correct the mistakes of the past and make everything new and better," Werner said.
In the days following the Nov, 28 fire, Werner started using the phrase "mountain tough" to describe the people of Gatlinburg and their resilience.
"This fire was devastating, but it doesn't keep the people here down," he said. "They're up. They're ready, and they're going to rebuild. They're strong, tough people."
Werner said it was tough losing his properties, but he has been relying on his faith and family to help through the hard times.
"We've had a great attitude because we've got a really strong faith in Jesus Christ, and that's what's made us be able to just cope with everything day to day."
As much as he is dealing with his own losses, Werner is also trying to lead his community in the efforts to move past the tragedy to start rebuilding Gatlinburg.
He said he's been amazed to see how the entire community has come together, and he can't wait to see how the town comes back even better and stronger than it was before.
"The time's gone so fast," Werner said. "Before you know it, Mother Nature, it really takes care of itself. All these mountains will be beautiful in a short time, and people are going to build back newer, better homes."