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VOL. 41 | NO. 13 | Friday, March 31, 2017
Gatlinburg family finds reason to celebrate after wildfire
GATLINBURG (AP) — For Lisa and Kevin McCarter, who lost their Gatlinburg home to the wildfire, reasons to celebrate have been scarce.
Since losing their house on Nov. 28, the McCarters have been slowly reconstructing their lives and their home. The recovery has been slow, but recently the couple had the opportunity to celebrate one of life's biggest milestones, the first birthday of their only grandchild, Asher.
Asher's 22-year-old father, Kurtis, is Lisa and Kevin's only child and was raised in their home in Gatlinburg. He explained that his first sight of the charred remains of his childhood home was hard to believe.
"My cousin sent me the picture, and it was kind of surreal. I can't say that it didn't hurt. It did obviously hurt, but it more so felt like it couldn't be real," he said. "It didn't really set in until I saw it in person."
He added that he could only imagine how devastating the loss was for his parents.
"I have to imagine it was a lot worse for them," he said. "It was the house that I grew up in, but I know how much work they've put into it, building it, remodeling it.
"It's just insane to think that that much work and that much love and memories was just gone."
For Kurtis, rebuilding the home is a chance to start building new memories and to show his parents how much their constant help has meant to him.
"I feel obligated to help more so just because I know how much they lost," he said. "It's not necessarily helping with the house, it's helping them.
"Even when they had just lost their house and didn't have any place to stay, they were still finding ways to help us," Kurtis said, "which was something we couldn't ask them to do, but they still went out of their way to make sure they did."
The McCarters are still struggling to replace their home and their belongings, but recently they have been finding ways to celebrate life's blessings. For Lisa, the chance to celebrate Asher's birthday was proof that the family still had reason to celebrate in spite of their losses.
"When Ash turned one, that was a landmark for us," she said. "That was just something that was just a celebration of being blessed. A lot of people didn't come through that fire with everybody or didn't have insurance and lost everything they owned.
"God looked out for us through that fire and he's still looking out for us."
She added that being able to celebrate Asher's first birthday was a blessing and that she wished for all the fire's survivors to have the opportunity to celebrate.
"Asher's been one of the best things to happen to us," she said. "Yeah, there's been some loss, but that's just stuff and it can be replaced. People can't."
"I just hope that other people who came through this fire can find some reason to celebrate," she added, "even if it's just that they survived and have another chance."
Information from: Knoxville News Sentinel, http://www.knoxnews.com