Ober Gatlinburg "standing strong" and preparing for visitors
Ober Gatlinburg facilities "remain intact without any direct fire damage," according to the company's website.
A photo saying “We are still here, standing strong with Gatlinburg” is on Ober Gatlinburg’s Facebook page.
Kate Barido, Sales and Marketing Director at Ober Gatlinburg, explained they will be ready to open after a thorough inspection, general clean-up, and once utilities are reestablished.
"Towers 2 and 3 will need to be inspected by the state and company that built it. Teams will inspect everything about the tram to make sure it is safe to operate again," Barido said.
At this time, Ober Gatlinburg is unsure of its exact reopening date. The City of Gatlinburg is expected to re-open to the public Wednesday, Dec 7th.
"Right now, we have two work crews at Ober: downtown Gatlinburg and the mountains. They are cleaning up after smoke and wind damage," Barido explained.
There are more than 100 employees who have been displaced from their homes. Ober Gatlinburg is working to find them places to live and assist them with their many needs. Ober Gatlinburg employs about 300 people.
"We’ve been trying to contact each one of them to get an update on their situation. It’s been unprecedented, what we are learning about, how to handle everyone. Some people lost everything," said Barido. "We are grateful for Holiday Inn and River Bend hotels in Pigeon Forge for taking in our employees."
Before the wildfire spread Monday, Ober Gatlinburg teams moved animals in their Wildlife Encounter to a safe facility on property to protect them from harm.
"They remained safe through the night. Our Wildlife curator has been feeding and caring for the animals since Tuesday morning, thanks to assistance of the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency," according to Ober's website.
17 people stayed at Ober Gatlinburg Monday night during the wildfire.
“They actually fled up to the mountain. They stayed inside the parking lot in their cars. Then, moved to the mall to find shelter,” Barido said.
No one was hurt and everyone escaped safely.
As for visitors with unused snow tubing tickets, there are three options:
1) Donate the total of your tubing ticket purchase directly to our Employee Relief Fund.
"The generosity of our community has been overwhelming and we appreciate your prayers and support very much. Any funds raised will directly support Ober Gatlinburg employees and their families," according to the company's website.