The recent town hall meetings and assessments made by the “Green Shirts” of the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee’s Disaster Response Services were beneficial to the long-term effort.
Deadly tornadoes hit Bradley County and Cleveland on April 27, spurring a series of events involving rescue, recovery and cleanup which has now gone into the long-term recovery effort for storm victims.
But even with all which has been done during the past three months, there is much still left to do, including additional assessments, according to Matt Ryerson of the LTRO.
“The town hall meetings were sparsely attended,” said Jim Polier, Bradley County LTRO leader.
The “Green Shirts” and FEMA officials agreed and attributed this to the quick actions and early response to the needs of the victims, by the community.
According to Polier, about 50 to 60 families were all who attended the town hall meetings, which was a good indicator of needs being already met for recovery.
Polier, Ryerson and the other members of the board stressed the importance of making sure all residents of Bradley County and Cleveland have registered with FEMA.
“The August 9 deadline is quickly approaching and after that date, no other registrations will be taken for any help which FEMA may be able to provide,” Ryerson said.
A firm date has not been set at this time regarding a meeting for all local churches and help organizations to “come together once again” in order to reassess available resources.
“We want to fill the conference area with these organizations which stepped up early in the process immediately after the deadly and destructive storms. The goal is to look forward and maintain the resources we already have in place to aid our affected residents,” Ryerson said.
This is an element of the Unmet Needs Committee.
“It’s time to get busy with each family’s individual unmet needs — and with the recruiting of case workers under the direction of Jim Polier and Lisa Mantooth, these needs can be met,” Ryerson explained.
“FEMA said in its report that resilience of our community and the people who stepped up was paramount and it is reflected in their Final Recommendations Report, “Toward the ‘New Normal’” FEMA Long-Term Community Recovery, which was just released.
LTRO is also seeking USDA grants and is currently working on applications for four grants.
At least 25 community-minded volunteers are needed by LTRO to aid in individual needs. Of course, the more the merrier, according to Mantooth. A two-day training session is set Monday and Tuesday, but due to some volunteers who may have conflicts or timing issues, Mantooth said those volunteers will have the opportunity to get direction several times during the process.
Roles of the volunteer case workers are still being developed, but these case workers will become an integral part of a family’s recovery, assisting to identify and fulfill needs and aiding to seek resolution to issues or needs, as well as being a liaison from the family to the LTRO board.
Any affected family or individual can call 423-308-3467, which is a Salvation Army number, for information or services. The information will be taken and forwarded to LTRO.
Mantooth would like to be able to have enough volunteers to link each case worker with a specific family.
Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer caseworker, or who just wants more information, should contact Mantooth at 423-479-2020. Offices of the LTRO recovery leader and case manager are located at United Way of Bradley County offices.
Mantooth can also be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.
To donate to the effort, visit bradleydisasterrelief.org or call Mantooth at the United Way office.