Churches and civic groups continue to step up to aid families who were victims of the deadly twisters which raked through approximately 40 miles of the Bradley County landscape, destroying and damaging homes and causing approximately $50 million in damage.
“These providers are an inspiration and are having a great impact on these families and our community,” said Matt Ryerson, chairman of the Unmet Needs Committee and Long-Term Recovery Organization.
Fourteen families were promised help Wednesday with needs such as home furnishings, beds, mattresses and winter clothing.
“Many of these families which are being helped lost everything, including clothing. They have had to start their lives over from scratch,” Ryerson said.
Other needs such as tree removal continue to be addressed as well.
According to Lisa Mantooth, case manager supervisor, she has 90 case files open.
“We have closed a dozen or so as those family needs have been filled,” Mantooth said.
“Each case has been different but mostly household items and appliances have been a major need. Counseling for victims has also been provided,” she added.
Once again, as the Wednesday meeting progressed to address the 14 families recently assessed, Catholic Charities, Westwood Baptist and other faith-based and civic organizations filled the needs — usually before Ryerson could fully explain what those family’s needs were.
Each family was designated a letter to identify and keep their anonymity.
Family F was a single female who had damage to her home. She was in need of tree removal and living room furnishings. Those needs were met Wednesday.
Family G had a damaged apartment, home furnishings were damaged and the family is on a fixed income ... those needs were met Wednesday by Bradley Baptist Association..
“Many of these folks who lost everything were looking at a hole in the ground after the storms. They had no place to live and the homeowners lost all, yet insurance, if any, paid off the mortgage but provided nothing else,” Ryerson explained.
“It’s really good that we are moving and being able to help these people and that their needs are being met by our community churches and organizations.”
Another family consisting of grandparents who had a grandson living with them lost everything in one of the tornadoes.
The grandson, who was in enrolled in college, also lost everything, including clothing and an essential laptop computer which he used in his studies.
Mantooth said Lee University was able to provide a laptop so the student could return to school.
“He had to miss a semester of school, but Lee gave him a refurbished computer,” Mantooth said.
Each family has been assessed for their needs, whether it be large or small.
Whirlpool Corp. is providing appliances for those who lost theirs during the storms.
“We can wipe that need from our list,” Ryerson said during a previous meeting when all agencies came together to help.
Whirlpool said it will fill all appliance requests.
Marc Bitzer, president of Whirlpool North America, visited Cleveland recently and made the decision to play a role in the long-term recovery, re-supplying local tornado victims with appliances.
“We have met and are continuing to meet unmet needs that we have been presented with,” Ryerson said.
“It’s good that we won’t have to meet quite as much in the future; this is a good indicator of things getting done.”
More expansive projects of the Long-Term Recovery Organization are upcoming.
Mantooth said any family who suffered loss due to the tornadoes in April is still encouraged to seek out the aid of the Long-Term Recovery Organization.
Mantooth can be reached by phone at 479-8575.