Just under three months after the devastating storms, recovering is pointed toward the long term.
“FEMA-sanctioned debris removal in the city of Cleveland and Bradley County ended Friday. Since cleanup efforts began on May 13, crews have collected 128,265 cubic yards of debris which totals 3,456 truckloads. This breaks down to more than 2,443 truckloads and 92,538 cubic yards of debris collected in the county, and 1,013 truckloads and 35,727 cubic yards have been collected in the city,” according to Cleveland-Bradley County Emergency Management Agency director Troy Spence.
“Our governmental responsibility to the community regarding cleanup from the storms is over, but we will remain as a support agency for the LTRO and other groups in the long-term recovery process,” Spence added.
“We have laws telling us what our responsibilities and limitations are, or more simply put — what we can and cannot do ... evolution has taken its course and now we will let LTRO lead into the next phase.”
Limited debris removal will continue for addresses already on a FEMA pre-approved list. Large stumps which have been pre-approved by FEMA will also be removed over the next few days, but FEMA has ceased all other debris-related operations in Bradley County.
City residents with small tree limbs can continue to put those out for regular collection, but large trees, stumps, construction debris and other categories that are not usually collected by the Cleveland Public Works Department should not be placed by the roadside.
Burn permit requirements for county residents remain waived, and those with debris may continue to burn wood and vegetation.
Bradley County Mayor Gary Davis and Spence commended the contractors, Unified Recovery Group, Neel-Schaffer, and True North for the speed of the cleanup effort.
“We began the cleanup a full 30 days before other nearby communities who were also hit by the April 27 storms,” Davis said.
“The cooperation between the contractors, FEMA, CBCEMA, TEMA and other agencies is a clear indication of a commitment to help the storm victims in their recovery.”
Spence said efforts will now shift to long-term recovery.
This effort is being led by Jim Polier, director of the Long-Term Recovery Organization, which is co-chaired by Matt Carlson and Jake Stum.
Polier emphasized the LTRO is a team effort and will involve local governments and volunteer relief organizations, as well as local humanitarian and religious groups.
Four separate informational town hall meetings have been scheduled in different areas of Cleveland and Bradley County affected by the tornadoes of late April.
The meetings will allow residents of these areas to meet with Long-Term Recovery Organization representatives to receive updates on the recovery process, be introduced to key resources and have an opportunity to offer feedback into the future recovery efforts in the community.
Key meeting dates are:
n July 25, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Hopewell Elementary School on Freewill Road
n July 26, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Parkview Elementary School on Minnis Road
n July 28, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Waterville Baptist Church on Dalton Pike
n July 29, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Freedom Fellowship Church on Blue Springs Road.
“We are excited to get the community even more involved in our disaster recovery efforts, and we are trying to hold these meetings in areas that were the most heavily hit by the tornadoes,” said LTRO co-chair Jake Stum.
“Residents who live in these areas, should attend the town hall meeting and let us know your thoughts about the relief and recovery efforts in our community.”
Polier explained the plans are to pinpoint specific areas of recovery and then allow those in attendance to address what they see as needs in those areas by posting questions or comments on response boards.
“This is another way the LTRO can find out the pulse of our community — just what the community wants to see now and in the future,” Polier said.
“And who would know what is most needed in a specific community than those who live there. We hope to be able to compile the thoughts expressed in these meetings through the posted comments and questions, and work together in addressing these concerns,” he added.
Fundraising efforts continue as well.
Brian Jackson, organizer of two previous “Rock the Relief” concerts which have raise thousands of dollars and food donations, is planning a third “Rock the Relief” event at Tri-State Exhibition Center July 30.
“We are looking for local bands who may wish to donate their time to the effort of helping our residents recover from these tragic storms,” Jackson said Saturday.
“Any individual or band who wants to perform can call 423-544-2020 to sign up. Mack Hess, director of Tri-State has offered the facility for “Rock the Relief 3.”
Monetary donations continue to be received at www.bradleydisasterrelief.org.