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In response to Great Smoky Mountain fires, Virginia Tech experts can talk about post-traumatic stress, impact on tourism

November 30, 2016

A firefighter at work.

A firefighter at work.
A firefighter at work.

Virginia Tech has experts available to assist reporters and enhance media coverage of the East Tennessee forest fires and resulting impact. 

Disaster related trauma
Virginia Tech professor of psychology Russell Jones is concerned about the trauma and post-traumatic stress disorders that may inflict affected children and their parents. He says it is imperative for families to seek professional mental counseling.

“The trauma of losing family or a home to fire and the fear of future fires are already an immensely traumatic ordeal for any child, but the additional loss of neighbors’ homes, town centers and roads, playgrounds, and especially a school, can have far more traumatic impact on a child. For people so young, their communities, no matter how small, are their entire world. These children almost certainly will experience some degree psychological distress."

Impact on regional tourism 
Virginia Tech professor of hospitality and tourism management Nancy McGehee shares thoughts about the area’s vitality and resilience, once the immediate crisis passes. 

“While the devastation of the fires cannot be minimized, the region does have many strengths in its favor as far as being able to rebound. The area holds a lot of sentimental value for folks. It’s a popular repeat-visitor destination, with generations of families visiting annually. Hopefully this will mean a lot of support for rebuilding and regenerating business.” 

“It’s also a positive that they have a savvy business woman like Dolly Parton behind them – she’ll be crucial to the rebuilding efforts. Add to that the National Park Service and one of the most-visited parks in the country being in your back yard with Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and they certainly have a lot in their favor for recovery. I also imagine the regional tourism destination management folks will be utilizing social media to help potential visitors understand how and when they can expect the area to be back in business.”

Schedule an interview
To secure an interview with Jones or McGehee, contact Jordan Fifer in the Media Relations office at 540-231-6997.

Our studio
Virginia Tech’s television and radio studios can broadcast live HD audio and video to networks, news agencies, and affiliates interviewing Virginia Tech faculty, students, and staff. The university does not charge for use of its studios. Video is transmitted by LTN Global Communications and fees may apply.

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