Three are splendid news and will assuredly boost the morale of area residents, especially those still filtering through the rubble of their tornado-ransacked property or who still seek temporary housing until their homes are repaired or rebuilt.
The fourth piece of information is one we would place in the “deplorable” category, much like we did sometime ago of those who choose to take advantage of the misery of others and loot what remains of their homes and lives.
All four news pieces were reported in Sunday’s edition of our newspaper.
All four will likely remain in the headlines for the foreseeable future.
But first, let us accent the positive because Cleveland and Bradley County residents deserve good news. Our hometown community has survived the worst of times — albeit painfully — and now our citizenry has bonded in unprecedented fashion to regroup, rebuild and restore hope of a new, better and more promising day.
It will come.
Make no mistake of this truth.
In an irony that brought memories of April 27, contracted trucks and their crews rolled into some of Bradley County’s worst hit neighborhoods last Friday — right in the middle of a series of heavy thunderstorms.
And they worked in them.
Just like emergency responders and rescue teams did before them. Just like utility line crews did for 10 days after the storms. Just like more infrastructure support workers are doing now, such as telephone and cable repairmen, among others. Some of it is a slow go but that’s the price a community pays in the aftermath of nature’s unharnessed fury.
The debris-hauling trucks and their crews are working six days a week, Monday through Saturday. It is a massive undertaking and will require time, and most importantly, our patience. We are told cleaning the tons and tons of neighborhood debris will take several weeks.
But Bradley County has survived the worst. We can endure this test of time.
A second major development is the establishment of a consolidated storm relief fund to which donors can contribute without fear of how or where their hard-earned dollars are being used. It is called the Cleveland-Bradley Disaster Relief Fund. It is being monitored through United Way of Bradley County to assure accountability and to verify the funds are directly supporting the unmet needs of our community’s storm victims.
To donate electronically to the central fund via PayPal, contributors may visit www.bradleydisasterrelief.org; or you can simply mail a check referencing the fund to United Way of Bradley County, P.O. Box 193, Cleveland, TN 37364. More information may be obtained by calling 423-716-1844.
A third announcement is the first scheduled meeting of the new Long-Term Disaster Recovery Committee, whose charge will be to oversee the future of our hometown’s restoration. An informational gathering will be held Monday, May 23, at 10 a.m. at the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce.
Organizations wishing to participate in the committee’s lengthy task are invited to send a representative. This is a visionary step in the right direction, one also intended to protect the interests of Bradley County’s storm victims.
And fourth, the deplorable.
According to Emergency Management Agency reports, an unscrupulous act could be taking place at the hands of a few whose greed is blinding them to the humanitarian needs of our people who are hurting. We hear reports of residents being overcharged by private companies or individuals providing debris removal and disaster recovery.
EMA is wasting no time in responding. Nor are we.
Residents who feel they are being overcharged or defrauded for these services in any way are urged to contact the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office at 728-7311 and select Option 2.
We will have more to say about all the above on another day.
Keep the faith, Bradley County.
And look straight ahead, not behind.