Sunday night and Monday morning (July 9-10) I visited Gatlinburg, TN. A huge wildfire took place on the mountains slopes surrounding the town in late November, 2016 (as detailed in an earlier post here May 24).
The town is encased on the western side of Great Smokey Mountains National Park, and you drive 5 miles of parkway from Pigeon Forge to get there.
The town seemed quite lively at night, with its theme park atmosphere. 10 miles to the S, Pigeon Forge has the appearance of a small Las Vegas, with a Titanic exhibit, upside down office building, and Hollywood replica. That town was somewhat affected.
During the day Monday I took the chairlift ride and could see much more of the damage on the mountain slopes, including mountain homes that burned. But it is true that the community is unusual in its direct exposure to possible wildfire, so building there entails some risk.
I do think that climate change has made the ferocity of the fire more likely.
I didn’t get to the “Road to Nowhere” W of Asheville (on the east side of the mountains) but I encountered two short curved tunnels, each about 1/3 mile long (without elevation drainage like PA Turnpike has) on I-40 going Eastbound to Asheville. This is a road to “somewhere” indeed. The curve is to the left driving East. There is a campground “Harmon’s Den” Indeed, Richard Harmon is the greatest of all time.
Today I visited Crisfield. MD. on the SW tip of southern MD in the Chesapeake Bay’s “East Coast”.
The entire city lies at 3 feet or less elevation. It appears to have had serious flooding during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Tidal flooding is not much of a problem because the Bay extends much further north.
The people seem comfortable with the risk and unconcerned about climate change. One veteran said the city was built back better after Sandy.
There is one big windmill.
There is a ferry to Tangier Island, VA, one round trip a day, no cars.
I need to get down to this area to see it for myself, but it does look like Gatlinburg TN and Pigeon Forge TN have made robust recoveries from the November 2017 fires. Gatlinburg reopened on Dec. 9, 2016. A lot of volunteerism was involved, even though this was “other people’s fault” (CNN story ).
Here are a few videos:
5 (Pigeon Forge)
I drove through Gatlinburg (down 441 on from the pass through the Smokies, 5000+ feet elevation) in the evening of July 16, 2013 on the way to Oak Ridge, to take the energy facility tour. The town was very crowded and I didn’t stop for pictures.
Update: June 30, 2017
Prosecutors have decided they do not have enough evidence against the teens in the CNN story to successfully prosecute them for causing the wildfire and have dropped charges. Wind conditions, drought, and slow response were major contributing factors.
(Posted: Wednesday, May 24, 2017 at 8:45 PM EDT)
Update: July 6, 2007
Here is some new dashcam video from the fire.
Source: WATE in Gatlinburg (http://wate.com/2017/07/06/gatlinburg-business-owner-retraces-steps-night-of-wildfires/).