There is a time to talk, and a time to take action. With Gatlinburg and Sevier County, today I begin taking action.
In three hours time, with the assistance of Scooter Downey from True Legend Films and Cernovich Media, I will begin showing the world just what happened in this region. Through the power of social media, you’ll be getting a first hand look at the disaster that rocked East Tennessee last week and the efforts people took while the fires still burned to rebuild.
What in the fresh hell are you doing?
When the fires started burning, no one, including local news, understood the gravity of what happened. At 5 PM Monday local radio reported due to smoke from forest fires officials were going “door to door” in efforts to start a “voluntary evacuation.”
Social media told a different story. Area residents were going door to door from local businesses and homes telling people to get out of Gatlinburg because the town was burning. By 7 PM the town was in full-blown evacuation mode. All this information came through social media. The major media outlets failed us.
We’re going to the scene. We’re telling the stories no one’s told. We’re asking the uncomfortable questions that need asking. We’re bringing you the truth, firsthand, on the scene.
How did you get this started?
When I got word of the fires, I took to Periscope to give people as much news as I could get from firsthand sources in the midst of the inferno. I knew the local news failed area residents, so I wanted to get accurate information out to the world in the best fashion I knew how.
I didn’t expect the response. Hundreds of people viewed my Periscopes regularly. I got questions from people as far away as Massachusetts asking about certain structures, expressions of concern and heartbreak, and questions on how to help. This is because Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevier County are more than just places to people locally. They are areas full of memories for people nationwide.
Eventually certain people took notice, and this project was thrown together as quickly as possible to get the true story of the Gatlinburg fires out to the world.
What “true story” are you telling?
The national press treated this fire like a puff piece. No one outside this area understands the impact this will have on the region because even local outlets aren’t telling the complete story.
There have been reports the Red Cross is turning away relief efforts. This is incorrect.
The body count reported every day has been more than what anyone reported.
More importantly, no one’s been talking about how a community came together from day one to say “What can we do to help?” A local radio show host got a call from a guy who lost his home in the fire. This guy called in while sitting in his van in a west Knoxville Wal-Mart parking lot asking for a place to just park for the night so he wouldn’t get hassled. The radio host kept him on hold and opened up the contest line to people who could help. Within minutes the contest line was jammed.
We aren’t just going to the scene to tell you about the disaster. We’re telling you the stories of the everyday men and women who made the relief efforts possible. We’re talking to those who organized benefits at a moment’s notice. This is the story of a community that rebuilds because it knew no one else gave a damn.
We’re going to show those of you nationally how you can help too.
Where can we see this?
Follow Scooter Downey on Periscope. Follow me on Periscope. You’ll see everything we see if you follow @clsesq and @TrueLegendFilms in real time.
Are you doing anything grey or illegal?
I’m a lawyer with responsibilities to my family. We are doing nothing grey or illegal to get this story out.
Why do you care so much? You weren’t directly affected.
I didn’t lose anything tangibly. However I have friends who lost everything. Others who volunteered their time, energy, and efforts without asking or being asked. Their stories need to be told.
What pissed me off is when people started making light of this as if it were a political issue or a reason to advance their own personal agenda. Michael Ian Black, a famous comedian, twitted a joke making light of this disaster. Other psychotic nutjobs gleefully mocked the deaths of “trumptrash” while attempting to mourn the deaths and loss of those who voted for their chosen political candidate.
This isn’t about Trump, Hillary, Obama, Black Lives Matter, ISIS, or any cause you want to smear or advance. This is about a disaster created by a historic drought, a lack of preparation for something this catastrophic, and a community that came together while the world around them still burned.
Oh shit. This actually sounds like something we need to help. What can we do?
1. Follow @clsesq and @TrueLegendFilms on Twitter to catch the Periscopes we bring you.
2. If you can chip in $10, text REDCROSS to 90999. That gives the Red Cross $10 to direct in any areas they need. They’re running the shelters, so they will appreciate the help.
3. Another confirmed outlet is Dolly Parton’s “My People Fund.” You can donate some coin there to an incredible relief effort. Dolly Parton set up this fund to provide families in the region who lost their homes in the fire $1000 per month for six months. Given the number of residences lost that goal will be a high bar to hit, but we’re going to see it happen.
4. Go to the region and have fun. See a show. Visit Dollywood. Support local businesses if you can. The economic impact is going to be huge as this area thrives on tourism, so every business needs support.
We’re about to embark on a wild ride. Hope you follow us.