NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The U.S. Department of Labor has approved a grant worth over $5,800,000 to help with wildfire recovery in East Tennessee.
The fires that tore through Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge last November caused over $500 million in damage and killed 14 people, leaving thousands without homes and hundreds of workers dislocated.
The National Dislocated Worker Grant, with $2 million released initially, was granted to create disaster relief employment for people to assist in clean-up efforts.
PHOTOS: Wildfires in East Tennessee
“The department will receive the initial funding up-front, the remaining monies will be used as needed to assist in the recovery effort,” said Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD) Commissioner Burns Phillips.
He continued, “My team will work with leaders of the Local Workforce Development Area in Sevier County to identify which local programs will best utilize these funds.”
TDLWD applied for the federal assistance in the weeks following the wildfire. The federal grant is expected to help approximately 200 Tennessee workers.
Within 24 hours after the start of the fires, TDLWD enacted an emergency response plan for dislocated workers. A day later, resources and staff from across the state traveled to Sevier County and began helping dislocated workers apply for unemployment benefits.
Dislocated workers can still receive assistance at the American Job Center located at 1216 Graduate Drive in Sevierville.