Local couple evacuated from Gatlinburg safe at Tennessee shelter

Local couple evacuated from Gatlinburg safe at Tennessee shelter

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - A worried daughter who contacted WMBF News, asking for help locating her parents who were evacuated from Gatlinburg, Tennessee, now says her parents have contacted her and are safe.

Suzanne Saldi Garber says her parents, Raymond and Carolyn Saldi, live in Little River, but were recently vacationing at their timeshare in Gatlinburg. She says they were evacuated from the hotel Monday night and then evacuated from there as the fires drew closer. Garber says the couple, who are in their 70s, were stuck in traffic in their car, where strangers gave them water, and they were given food when they made it to another Red Cross shelter.

WMBF spoke to the couple's son, Raymond Jr., who also lives in Horry County.

"He had tried to call me Tuesday, but I was working on a project in the morning and I kind of disregarded it, not realizing what was going on, and then later my wife told me and I was like oh I should have taken that phone call." said Raymond Jr.

Garber lives in Philadelphia and says her parents still use flip phones and don't know how to text.

"They're set in their ways. Not tech savvy at all. She's right about the flip phones." said Raymond Jr.

However, both kids say after everything their father has been through, they can handle anything.

"He's a Korean War veteran. He worked in the lime stone quarries when he was like 13 or 14 with his brother Ronnie when the only way to get a better life was to lie about your age and join the armed forces and that's what they did." said Raymond Jr.

After more than 24 hours, Garber says her parents contacted her and say after sleeping in their car until it became too cold, they found another shelter sponsored by the Red Cross, Salvation Army and Navajo Tribe, where they were able to sleep for a few hours on cots.

The Saldis tell their daughter they don't know if the hotel where they were staying has burned or if their belongings left there are safe are not.

Garber says the family is thankful for the support and concern shown her family.

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