published Monday, May 2nd, 2011

Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger reflects on tornado disaster

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    Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger
    Photo by John Rawlston.
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Hamilton County Mayor this morning released the following statement about Wednesday’s deadly tornados:

“As we begin a new work week, it seems appropriate to look back over the last several days and take a moment to think about those stricken by the life changing tornados that ripped through our community last week. It seems almost incomprehensible that something 800 yards wide, the length of eight football fields and five miles long could descend on our community and leave unimagined havoc in its wake. But as we know all too well, the incomprehensible is our new reality and many families face a new day unlike any they imagined one short week ago.

“Our first thoughts were and are with the Hamilton County families that lost 11 loved ones due to the storms; they remain in our thoughts and prayers. We also remember the 28 people who were transported to hospitals, some in critical condition, as well as the more than 300 people who brought themselves to area hospitals for treatment. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all in this time of need. The sight of the storm stricken area whether by land or by air is unparalleled in my life’s experiences and I sincerely hope this is something we never see again. My heart was touched by the sight of people on Thursday picking through the debris or cleaning wreckage away trying to bring a sense of normalcy back to their lives.

“Hamilton County remains committed to doing everything possible to help those impacted by the storm. We greatly appreciate the quick response of Governor Bill Halsam who toured the Apison area on Thursday along with Senator Bob Corker and Congressman Chuck Fleishman. We appreciate the quick assurance of our elected leaders on the federal level bringing needed disaster relief aid from the United States Government and the support of our local elected leaders.

“We’d also like to take a moment to extend our deepest appreciation to the first responders and volunteers who rushed to aid those stricken at all of the storm impacted areas. It warmed my heart to meet and thank those faith based volunteers who showed up outside Apison Elementary School Thursday morning to aid those who worked through the night, cutting up trees, clearing roads and allowing emergency responders to aid the afflicted.

“I cannot express the appreciation I feel to all those who called asking how they could help, from the district manager of one of our largest retail stores to the person I saw waking to the school with a chainsaw in hand trying to find out how he could help and everyone else who stepped up to assist in the recovery. The efforts of the business community directing volunteer efforts to the appropriate agencies as well as the funds that have been set to help the storm victims have not gone unnoticed. We are known as the Volunteer state and the evidence has been on full display since Wednesday.

“Finally, allow me to say we have been challenged by weather disasters in the past, such as the Superstorm of 93, the Easter weekend tornados of 97 and other natural events. Each time we have been faced with adversity we have stood up, faced our challenge and rebuilt, making ourselves a stronger community in the process. This time will be no different, this recovery is continuing, power will be restored as quickly as humanly possible. Hamilton County this week is different than it was last week. A year from now we will be a different, stronger and better community. I will do everything in my power to lead this rebuilding effort. I thank you for your support as we move forward and meet and overcome this challenge.

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