published Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

Chattanooga area tornado victims allowed to register with FEMA


by Adam Crisp
Carol Denniston , left, with FEMA, helps Reba Self register Monday for FEMA benefits. Self is staying in a shelter at Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe HIgh School after the home that she shared with her mother in Ringgold was destroyed by a tornado last Wednesday.
Carol Denniston , left, with FEMA, helps Reba Self register Monday for FEMA benefits. Self is staying in a shelter at Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe HIgh School after the home that she shared with her mother in Ringgold was destroyed by a tornado last Wednesday.
Photo by Angela Lewis.

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HOW TO HELP

* Donate to the Neediest Cases Fund. All donations benefit the local chapter of the American Red Cross.

* The Salvation Army is providing hot meals, water and emotional and spiritual care in Bradley, Catoosa, Dade, Hamilton and Walker counties. To donate, call 1-800-SAL-ARMY or visitwww.csarmy.org. Or text the word “give” to 80888 and a $10 donation will appear on your cell phone bill.

* The American Red Cross of the Chattanooga Greater Area needs donations to provide shelter, food, emotional support and other disaster assistance. Visit www.chattanoogaredcross.org or mail checks to: The Greater Chattanooga Area Chapter American Red Cross, 801 McCallie Ave., Chattanooga, TN 37403

* Walker County Sheriff Steve Wilson asks that storm recovery volunteers in Walker County to report to Chattanooga Valley Baptist Church, 90 Nick-A-Jack Lane, Flintstone, Ga. Anyone wishing to donate water, refreshments or food may call or go to the Walker County Civic Center, 10052 N. Highway 27, Rock Spring, Ga., or call 706-375-7702.

* The Catoosa County Sheriff’s Office is accepting bottled water for storm victims. Bring water to the office at 5842 Highway 41.

* Oakwood Baptist Church in Walker County is collecting bottled water, nonperishable food and toiletries for distribution centers at its Gateway campus for Ringgold and the Ministry of Hope for Flintstone. To donate or volunteer, visit www.oakwoodbc.org.

* First Baptist Church in LaFayette is collecting nonperishable food and bottled water at the church office during normal business hours or before church services.

* Chattooga County residents may donate supplies at the library, the sheriff’s office, Lyerly Town Hall and Trion Town Hall. Needs include nonperishable food, bottled water, diapers, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, garbage bags, pet food, flashlights, sanitary gloves, children’s Tylenol, ibuprofen and antacids.

Clothing may be dropped off at the Trion Police Department. It must be clean and new or very gently worn.

* In Bradley County, anyone who would like to volunteer with cleanup and construction efforts can call the Bradley Baptist Association at 423-476-4953.

* Nonperishable food items can be donated to the Chattanooga Food Bank at 3402 N. Hawthorne St. From there the food will distributed to disaster victims as needed.

* In Cleveland, the Samaritan Center at 9231 Lee Highway is accepting new clothing items, diapers, gently used furniture, household items and other goods. If you have questions on items to donate, call 238-7777.

* Blood Assurance is asking anyone able to get to a blood center or bloodmobile to do so immediately. For more information, go to www.bloodassurance.org or call 423-756-0966.


HOW TO GET HELP

* East Ridge has placed sanitation trucks at the East Ridge Traffic Control shop at 905 Yale St. behind the Galen Medical building and Parkridge East Hospital for residents to drop off spoiled food, etc., because of the power outage.

Normal garbage pickup service will continue. Any area that cannot be serviced on the regular day will be serviced Friday. Brush and storm debris pickup will continue, but because of the volume of debris it will take time to clear completely. Residents should stack brush on the side of the road.

* The Catoosa County and Ringgold building inspection staff is reviewing structurally damaged buildings to make sure they are safe and habitable. All structurally damaged buildings must be inspected before they can be occupied. To be placed on the inspection list, call the Catoosa County Help Line at 706-965-7138 or 706-965-7139.

* The American Red Cross of the Chattanooga Greater Area has developed the Safe and Well website so people can notify friends and relatives they are all right. Visit www.redcross.org/safeandwell (English) or www.sanoysalvo.org (Spanish)

* For help from the state of Georgia, call 404-656-1776.

Audio clip

Darrel Goodwin

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Storm victims began filing into Park View Elementary School last Thursday, just hours after volunteers stocked the school with canned goods, toiletries and bottled water.

Over the last six days, volunteer organizers estimate that “thousands” of meals have been served as droves of displaced tornado victims moved through the makeshift collection center.

“At first, there was a lot of shock and numbness, and then there was some bitterness and now I think they are in the regrouping phase,” said Deb Bailey, the school’s principal who also is organizing the emergency supply collection.

On Tuesday, six days after an EF4 tornado ripped a 35-mile path from Catoosa County, Ga., to Polk County, Tenn., residents are coming to grips with what happened, Bailey said, but aren’t yet moving on. Nine people were killed and 89 were injured in Bradley County.

“I don’t think we’re at hope yet,” she said. “It’s too soon for that.”

The storms that pummeled the tri-state region carved a deadly course across the South, killing 345 people as 288 twisters rampaged through Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia. As of Tuesday, a total of 80, including a DeKalb County child who died at Erlanger hospital, were reported dead in the tri-state area around Chattanooga.

Many residents said their attention was on rebuilding and, for folks like Jesse Parker, the news was good. His Farmers Insurance adjuster looked over his ramshackle roof and crushed fence and said he would write a check for repair costs by the end of the day.

But across Parker’s neighborhood, the Willbrook subdivision in Cleveland, the landscape was still a depressing, dismantled scene, with more than a dozen homes splintered and tossed across the community of tightly lined vinyl-sided homes.

“After the tornado, we went outside and it was eerily quiet and dark, but you could hear people screaming and crying,” said Melody Goodwin, who lives across the street from Parker.

On Tuesday, Federal Emergency Management Agency officials announced that residents in storm-affected areas may begin applying for financial help.

Bradley County Emergency Management Director Troy Spence said registration is available at www.disaster assistance.gov or at 1-800-621-3362. Be ready to provide name, address, phone number, insurance coverage and information about losses, he said.

FEMA representatives are expected here today or Thursday.

“We want everyone to simply apply for assistance,” said Bill Lindsey, a Ringgold, Ga.-based FEMA spokesman. “We know a lot of people will stay with friends or family, but that’s not necessary, because assistance exists.”

FEMA offers emergency housing, low-interest, government-backed loans and rebuilding grants, Lindsey said.

“Many people are underinsured for this type of loss, so it makes sense to apply just in case,” he said.

But for the Jobe family, sticking out the storm’s aftermath in less-than-ideal accommodations is just fine. They plan to split time between a friend’s home and a borrowed recreational vehicle while their home near the Bradley-Hamilton county line is repaired.

“Right now we’re just thankful,” said Diana Jobe, whose home lost part of its roof and had shattered windows. Hundreds of trees fell on the family’s five-acre lot and the family garage was ripped from its foundation and tossed several yards away.

“But when you look at some of the other houses, we were pretty lucky,” said husband Dale Jobe.

Meanwhile, Bradley County sent requests for proposals Tuesday to specialty contractors capable of removing 600,000 cubic yards of debris and to monitor the removal for FEMA funding. The county can get 75 percent of the funding for the cleanup from FEMA. County officials have said they hope the state will split the remaining 25 percent.

During a Tuesday EMA briefing, both Cleveland Utilities and Volunteer Energy Cooperative said the number of customers without electricity continues to decline. At 4:30 p.m., the numbers were 1,034 at Cleveland Utilities, officials said, while at 5 p.m. Monday, 200 VEC customers remained without power in Bradley County.

Church-affiliated groups continue to provide debris cleanup and other needs. Phil Taylor, volunteer coordinator with Bradley Baptist Association, reported Tuesday that more than 4,000 volunteer hours have been logged by the association and Habitat for Humanity since Friday. Men And Women of Action, a Church of God affiliate, logged more than 2,000 hours, he said.

Bradley residents also are being asked to attend the community’s National Day of Prayer service at noon Thursday at First Baptist Church on Stuart Road.

During its Monday evening meeting, the Bradley County Commission heard stories of dangerous conditions and long hours endured by county employees since the storms on April 27.

Parents, coaches and children are pitching in to get Blue Springs Park ready for ballgames by the weekend, said Paul Wyrick, county parks and recreation director. Road Department employees have worked as much as 30 continuous hours before taking a break, Road Superintendent Tom Collins said.

Some ambulance crews last week had to stop and wait out a tornado as they responded to calls for help from a previous tornado, said Danny Lawson, Emergency Medical Services director.

Firefighters had to chain saw their way along roads to people needing help as storms passed over them, said Chief Dewey Woody.

“Lots of miracles happened Wednesday night,” said Bradley County Mayor Gary D. Davis.

about Adam Crisp...

Adam Crisp covers education issues for the Times Free Press. He joined the paper's staff in 2007 and initially covered crime, public safety, courts and general assignment topics. Prior to Chattanooga, Crisp was a crime reporter at the Savannah Morning News and has been a reporter and editor at community newspapers in southeast Georgia. In college, he led his student paper to a first-place general excellence award from the Georgia College Press Association. He earned ...

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about Randall Higgins...

Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...

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FEMA......please allow me to register to so that you give me the money to buy a condo with a swimming pool.

May 4, 2011 at 3:04 p.m.
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