A benefit auction is set for 6 p.m. CDT and the concert follows at 7 p.m. on Friday in the Bledsoe County High School auditorium. The high school is on U.S. Highway 127, just south of Pikeville. There is no charge for admission, but donations to help storm victims are encouraged. For more information, call participating Wesley Chapel Church members at 423-554-4193, 423-618-2985 or 423-554-4655.
If you are a victim of the April 27-28 storms and your property sustained damage, call the Federal Emergency Management Agency at 800-621-3362 or TTY 800-462-7585 and read FEMA's 3-Step Guide online at www.fema.gov
A Friday benefit concert featuring bluegrass recording artist and Pikeville native Carrie Hassler and gospel trio Great Vision will raise money for Bledsoe County storm victims and recognize the emergency crews and volunteers who helped them, organizers say.
In the wake of the storms, victims need another surge of help as initial recovery efforts wind down and public attention wanes, said Alvin Weston, a retired pastor and volunteer in the effort organized by Pikeville's Wesley Chapel Church pastor Jerry Wheeler.
"There are 588 seats, and we want to fill them all," Weston said of Bledsoe County High School's auditorium.
"One of the main goals is to remind people the need is still great," Wheeler said, noting many victims have struggled to work while trying to reclaim their lives and others have little or no insurance. "Their lives are changed forever, and money is their need now."
Wheeler said the church has underwritten all costs so all the money taken in on Friday will go to victims.
Hassler, who was forced out of her home in Crossville, Tenn., by storm damage, said she understands what it's like to be a storm victim.
"We're out of our house for six months due to the tornadoes," she said Tuesday. "We were very fortunate we weren't home, but we had a lot of damage and we know how important it is to have help."
It's important to remember recovery is long-term, Hassler said.
"Even after the shock has worn off, there's still lots to be done," she said.
The April 27 tornadoes cut a two-track swath through the community, damaging at least 200 homes and destroying more than 25 homes and businesses on Bledsoe County's portion of Walden's Ridge, according to emergency officials.
Bledsoe County Emergency Management Agency Director Paul Putnam said some victims still are staying with family members while they clean up and plan replacement and repair projects.
Putnam said victims of the storm who have not filed information with the Federal Emergency Management Agency must do so in the next 30 days. June 26 marks 60 days from the date of the tornadoes.