published Monday, August 1st, 2011

Bradley County group aids recovery in storms

By Paul Leach
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    Storm damage is seen along Brooklawn Trail in the Bates Pointe subdivision in Bradley County. Photo by Beth Burger

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — The Cleveland/Bradley Keep America Beautiful objective to clean up the county has taken on new meaning after the devastating April 27 storms.

Officials said a new focus is defining its role under the new Long Term Recovery Organization, which is committed to returning Bradley County’s tornado-ravaged communities to normal.

“We need volunteers, and volunteers to organize to the volunteers,” said Rochelle Mayberry, an Americorps VISTA worker with Lee University’s Leonard Center, which coordinates volunteer efforts for the recovery organization.

Funneling volunteers through the Leonard Center will be an ongoing concern, Keep America Beautiful officials said.

Mayberry praised Keep America Beautiful for its continued support by assisting with volunteer recruitment, and she noted their help after the tornadoes.

“They participated in a huge way, especially donating all their cleaning supplies and water” in the immediate aftermath of the storms, she said.

Generating more volunteers is key to the success of both Keep America Beautiful and recovery organization projects, Cleveland Bradley Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Gary Farlow said.

He noticed “the same core of volunteers” tended to respond to organizational needs, he said, and believes a larger number of people would volunteer if contacted.

“There are employee groups looking for community involvement,” said Farlow, who suggested Keep America Beautiful attempt to reach prospective volunteers through mailings.

Jim Davis, president of Cleveland/Bradley Keep America Beautiful, said that, while addressing family needs is a major component of recovery efforts, the “thrust” of community restoration will be rebuilding.

“[The Federal Emergency Management Agency] can only do so much,” Farlow said, citing the need to “donate teams to build houses.”

The board agreed that contacting Habitat for Humanity would be the next logical step.

In the meantime, Keep America Beautiful continues to provide cleanups — storm-related or not — throughout Bradley County, Executive Director Joanne Maskew said.

The organization recently removed 14 tons of trash and debris, much of it left over from the April storms, from Beaty’s Cemetery near Freewill Road, she said.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com.

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