published Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

Tornado victims aided by Neediest Cases fund


by Naomi Jagoda
Brandy Harper sits in her kitchen Tuesday. The ceiling of the kitchen collapsed shortly after an April tornado damaged the house in Lookout Valley. Harper and her mother, Carol, received money from the Neediest Cases fund to help pay for repairs to their home.
Brandy Harper sits in her kitchen Tuesday. The ceiling of the kitchen collapsed shortly after an April tornado damaged the house in Lookout Valley. Harper and her mother, Carol, received money from the Neediest Cases fund to help pay for repairs to their home.
Photo by Jake Daniels.

NEEDIEST CASES FUND

Chattanooga's Neediest Cases Fund serves clients of the Partnership for Families, Children and Adults. The fun is administered by the Partnership to fulfill client needs that cannot be met through traditional funding sources. Donations are tax deductible as permitted by law. To donate, a coupon can be found on page . You also can donate online 24/7.

The April 27 tornadoes were not kind to the Lookout Valley home where Carol Harper and her daughter live.

After a tornado roared in and out of the valley, Harper's roof was falling in, there was water damage inside the home, cars were totaled and trees knocked down, said Harper's 38-year-old daughter Brandy, who lives in the home.

To catch the water dripping into the house, they had buckets and trash cans strategically placed throughout the residence, she said.

"We had extensive damage," Brandy said.

To make matters worse, Carol, 66, had canceled the home insurance just five weeks earlier. Brandy's grandparents bought the house in the 1970s and the insurance policy had been in her grandmother's name, Brandy said. They hadn't yet transferred the insurance into Carol's name when the tornado struck.

"That was ironic," Carol said.

Carol is retired and works part time and Brandy is looking for work, so they needed outside help and applied for Federal Emergency Management Agency money to repair the roof, but only received about $650. They reapplied for additional aid but were turned down, Brandy said.

Then Brandy called 211 and was put in touch with the Partnership for Families, Children and Adults. Several agencies gave the Harpers a total of more than $17,000 for repairs to the house's exterior, said Raquel Hidalgo, a caseworker with the Partnership.

"We're very, very appreciative of any help," Carol said.

The roof has been repaired for about three weeks now.

"We're just so thankful that we don't have water in our house," Brandy said.

But even with all that help, little bills kept adding up that they couldn't pay, including an electric bill for $108.79. So they approached the Partnership about the Neediest Cases fund, and received the money needed to pay the utility bill.

Each year from Thanksgiving through the end of the year, the Chattanooga Times Free Press asks its readers to donate to Neediest Cases. The money is given to the Partnership, whose staff use the fund year round to help clients with needs as small as $35 for food to as much as a couple hundred dollars for utility bills.

Partnership officials said the faltering economy -- and lingering needs from the April storms -- have resulted in more requests this year.

Brandy said she is grateful for the money because she was afraid the power was going to be turned off.

Tracey Haveman, the Harpers' caseworker on Neediest Cases, wrote on the request form in September that money for the electric bill would give the family one less thing to worry about.

"Not having to worry about their electric bill is one less stressor from a pile of stressors they are combating," Haveman wrote.

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