An Emmy-nominated photographer has created a heart wrenching project to generate awareness towards the victims of the Great Smoky Mountains wildfires of past November.
On November 24th 2016, a small fire started on the Chimney Tops Mountains, in Sevier County, Tennessee. Due to winds of almost 90mph and very low humidity values, the conflagration rapidly spread outside the containment boundary officials had first delineated. In just four days the flames extended to the nearby Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge Areas, eventually turning the calamity into one of the largest natural disasters in the history of Tennessee.
The fire ultimately claimed 14 lives, injured 134 and destroyed more than 10,000 acres (15 square miles) of land and property.
Two juveniles were arrested and charged with arson.
Jeremy Cowart is a lauded photographer, named by the Huffington Post as the ‘Most Influential Photographer on the Internet’. In 2010 he embarked on what might be his most famous project, “Voices of Haiti”.
It consisted of a series of portraits of Haitian locals writing their thoughts and memories on rubble after the devastating 7.0 earthquake that shook the island and killed 250,000 people.
‘Voices of Haiti’ was displayed at the entrance of the UN at a world leaders gathering in March of that same year to help pledge $10 billion dollars to the recovery efforts.
Inspired by this project, Jeremy started “Voices of Gatlinburg”, a series of photographs to show the general public the extent of the the Great Smoky Mountains tragedy and create awareness to the victim’s needs.
Cowart uses drone photography to capture the victims lying on an impeccable white mattress inside their destroyed homes. On the project’s website, each family shares their tragedy and visitors can donate to their GoFundMe campaign pages.
Shot over the course of a week in late December ‘Voices of Gatlinburg’ has so far managed to attract nationwide media attention and help many of the victims. The pictures are truly stunning and immediately show the viewer the despair of what it’s like to lose everything.
If you’re interested in lending a hand, you can share on social media with the hashtag #voicesofgburg and click here to donate.