Paradise Que

SMOKED, Grilled and BAKED FOODS TO ORDER

Photo credit: Webb Sanderson of BOH-FOH.

Photo credit: Webb Sanderson of BOH-FOH.

Photo credit: Operation BBQ Relief.

Photo credit: Webb Sanderson of BOH-FOH.

In BBQ we all love a good hot fire, but in a mountain region suffering from drought, fire was the worst imaginable situation.  Paradise Que lives in the "backyard" of the Smoky Mountain National Park.  On November 29th, a wildfire at Chimney Tops rapidly spread, taking aim at Gatlinburg, TN.   A quaint little tourist town with a thriving local arts and crafts community.  This fire ravaged the Gatlinburg area fueled by hurricane force winds in excess of 85 miles an hour that carried burning embers 8 to 10 miles; forced down trees and power lines, which caused more fires, and before it was over, the fire would eventually consume more than 10,000 acres (15 square miles) inside the national park, and 6,000 acres in other parts of the area.  At least 14,000 area residents and tourists were forced to evacuate, while over 2000 buildings were damaged and/or destroyed.    The fire claimed at least 14 lives, injured 134, and claimed to be one the largest natural disasters in Tennessee.

Operation BBQ Relief deployed to Gatlinburg on a mission to feed thousands of people forced from their homes, as well as firefighters and first responders battling the ongoing fires and treating the injured.  A friend, Chris Grove with Nibble Me This, had this to say about volunteering, “I looked into the eyes of children who had lost EVERYTHING except the clothes they had on. I saw the 1,000 yard stare on the faces of adults who were trying to figure out where to begin to start over. It was gut wrenching to witness.”  It simply is impossible to put into words the hollow feeling experienced in the pit of your stomach while working to provide meals, knowing we cannot possibly begin to understand the depths of loss felt by these individuals and families.  Jeremy Cowart, a photographer of the stars in Nashville, has done an amazing piece to bring awareness of the magnitude of the devastation suffered.  He calls it “Voices of Gatlinburg” (http://voicesofgburg.com/).  Such an incredibly moving account by people that experienced this horrific night. 

Now that the fires are controlled, time is the enemy.  Many of the displaced individuals have lost jobs in addition to their homes due to the destruction by the fires.   We are proud to have been of service in some small way during the first few days following the fires and continue to pray that the needed support and restoration comes swiftly.  If you would like to donate, the Dolly Parton Foundation has a "My People" fund, Jeremy Cowart has links to help those he has worked with, Friends of the Smokies, Gatlinburg Relief Fund are some ideas.   

Photo credit: Chris Grove of Nibble Me This.

Photo credit: Webb Sanderson of BOH-FOH.

Photo credit: Webb Sanderson of BOH-FOH.

Photo credit: Chris Grove of Nibble Me This.