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Shelly Barnes: UT Extension posts disaster, wildfire recovery resources

Shelly Barnes • Updated Dec 7, 2016 at 8:00 PM

Tennessee was hit hard with November wildfires and tornadoes causing several deaths and extensive property loss. Individuals have lost much or everything they have, including their homes. While University of Tennessee Extension cannot restore their losses, in many cases Extension agents and specialists may be able to help with information and resources that can help individuals and families through the recovery process.

Members of the faculty with the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences have compiled a website that centralizes many resources that may be of help to those struggling with where to find information. The website is called University of Tennessee Extension Disaster Recovery Resources and members of the public can access it at ag.tennessee.edu/fcs.

Materials include information on helping children and adults deal with disasters; smoke removal and fire cleanup; food safety – what to keep and what to pitch; and how to replace important documents like birth and marriage certificates or naturalization papers; and finally tips for filing insurance claims. Items will be added and updated as more resources become available. 

“Our thoughts are with the families who have been effected in each of these situations,” said Laura Stephenson, assistant dean of UT Extension with responsibilities for family and consumer sciences. “We hope that these resources support local organizations and individual efforts to meet the needs of families struggling in a time of grief and crisis.” 

 While these resources may not be needed by many Tennesseans, including Wilson County residents, the information will be good to have in case a tragedy does strike our area. The information on helping children and adults deal with disasters may be of utmost importance to clinets in our area at this time.

Many of you have contacted our office seeking a way to help those affected by the recent wildfires in Sevier County. Our office is partnering with the Wilson County mayor’s office and the Sevier County Extension office to collect gift cards that will be distributed to xfamilies and students in need. The Extension Office in Sevier County will work with the local school system and senior organizations to deliver any gift cards received to the needed families. Gift card options include Walmart, Kroger, Publix, CVS, Walgreens or Dollar General. 

Gift cards are a great way to offer assistance to those in need when donations of items begin to run low. You can drop of the gift cards at the Wilson County Extension office or at the Wilson County mayor’s office. We will be collecting gift cards until Dec. 15 at 4:30 p.m. We will then send all of the gift cards to the Sevier County Extension office, and they will distribute them to families and children in need. 

The Wilson County mayor’s office address is 228 E. Main St., Room 104, in Lebanon at the courthouse.

The Wilson County UT Extension office is at 925 E. Baddour Pkwy., Suite 100, in Lebanon.

Please send gift cards to the attention of Sevier County Relief.

UT Extension provides a gateway to the University of Tennessee as the outreach unit of the Institute of Agriculture. With an office in every Tennessee county, UT Extension delivers educational programs and research-based information to citizens throughout the state and provides equal opportunities in all programming and employment. In cooperation with Tennessee State University, UT Extension works with farmers, families, youth and communities to improve lives by addressing problems and issues at the local, state and national levels.

For more information on this or other family and consumer sciences related topics, contact Shelly Barnes, family and consumer sciences Extension agent for UT Extension in Wilson County. Barnes may be reached atsbarnes@utk.edu or 615-444-9584.

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