What has happened during the past year and what is continuing, as well as the future of the Bradley County Long-Term Recovery Organization, is much the same — work is being done to bring the Cleveland and Bradley County community to its “New Normal.”
As for the future, there will be a time when the requests for April 27 tornado rebuilds and repairs are ceased, according to Jim Polier, director of LTRO.
Since April 27, 2011, hundreds of repairs have been made and six new homes built through coordination of LTRO.
Fundraisers and donations have fed the account, and wisely with the aid of the faith-based community, civic organizations and others, have helped stretch the money to provide more bang for the buck.
“We continue getting requests from the survivors of the storms who didn’t come forward for whatever reason — whether they didn’t know about the availability of LTRO ... [we can’t be sure],” Polier said.
Polier said the March 2 tornado didn’t affect as many and damage or destruction was not as bad.
“We have amended our charter since March 2 and can now respond to any disaster declared by the governor or president,” he said.
Five complete home builds will be in the books by April 27 (Friday), a year after nine people died during the multiple tornado events which caused millions of dollars in damage and loss in Bradley County and Cleveland.
“We are working on only four cases from the March 2 tornado,” Polier said. “At some time, we will have to look at no longer accepting requests for assistance but at this time, we continue to work rebuilding and repairing and even helping with other projects.”
“There is lots of timber down,” Polier said.
Polier indicated he has been talking with loggers who may want to help clean up the affected areas and use the wood for building materials or pulp wood.
“We want to see what can be done about taking this away,” the former USDA Forest Service veteran said. He explained that the brush and debris from the storms is a “fuel for fires.”
“We have about 1,000 years of firewood on the ground in Bradley County. This creates a danger due to the fuel load and could lead to a forest or woods fire,” he said.
In late 2011, firefighters battled several blazes where downed trees had caught fire.
Polier said LTRO is also documenting every element of its existence from start up to finish.
“This will be done as a guide for others,” he said.
As for now, LTRO continues to look at home builds and continues to help those it can with repairs. “Some people may not be financially or physically able to work or get things done,” he said.
“When we are done with LTRO’s work, it will still be here as an entity to exist for the future,” he said.