As the Tennessee wildfires drew nearer, a Little River couple vacationing in the Gatlinburg area checked into a local shelter, but then their communication with their children stopped.
And their daughter was getting worried.
Suzanne Garber said her parents, Raymond and Carolyn Saldi of Little River, were staying at their timeshare when they were evacuated from their hotel, leaving most of their belongings behind in an escape to safety Monday night. She and her family were with them until Sunday when they returned home, she said.
But at 1 a.m. Wednesday, Garber said the last she had heard from her parents at 10 a.m. Tuesday was that they had been evacuated to a local shelter and were then asked to move to a new shelter as the fires grew closer.
Kind strangers shared water with them as they were stuck in traffic, and food awaited them at the American Red Cross shelter. But Garber said they never registered on the Red Cross’ “Safe and Well” page, and she was getting worried with no word from her parents as of 1 a.m. Wednesday.
But the Saldis were safe and sound.
Garber said her parents called her around noon, telling her they were able to finally make it to their new shelter supported by the Red Cross, Salvation Army and the Cherokee Nation.
“They slept in their car until it became freezing and found the shelter and were able to sleep a few hours on a cot this morning,” Garber said. “They can still see fires all around them as they are in between Gatlinburg and Pittman Center, which is on the periphery of the national park.”
According to our Grand Strand News Alliance Partner WPDE, the Saldis told their son they had trouble getting in touch with the family because their cellphones had not been charged.
Emily Weaver contributed to this report.