FEMA officials continue to aid victims with applications for help and volunteers from several organizations are beginning to tighten the reins on their efforts to better serve.
The FEMA Disaster Recovery Center at 10 Church St. now houses representatives of Tennessee Department of Human Services as well as the Hiwassee Chapter of the American Red Cross, Salvation Army and others.
Cleveland-Bradley County Emergency Management Agency Director Troy Spence said prior to the opening of the DRC that it would be a “one-stop shop” for the victims who experienced multiple tornadoes during the five waves which struck areas of the city, county and surrounding counties.
Data collected so far indicated 285 homes were completely destroyed, 195 suffered major damage and 176 were damaged.
FEMA officials have aided 152 residents during the weekend and 47 filed paperwork Monday, according to Greg Hughes of FEMA information.
EMA officials have expressed concern about the potential of a county housing shortage, with about 500 families displaced by the storms.
Those needing placement can visit the Bradley County website at www.bradleyco.net for property listings. Hughes also noted FEMA is relying in part on the Tennessee Housing Authority and provided website information.
That site address is www.tnhousingsearch.org.
In other news from the Monday afternoon briefing at the Bradley County Emergency Operations Center:
- County and city leaders chose management and debris removal companies to handle the cleanup in the aftermath of the tornadoes. The selections were made using the “lowest and best” criteria in order to ensure the city and county are reimbursed for the cleanup costs. True North has an office in Murfreesboro, and was chosen as the management company. True North specializes in large scale storm debris cleanup in keeping with FEMA guidelines. Residents affected by the storms are asked to keep vegetative debris separate from construction and demolition debris where practical. FEMA guidelines require it to be placed on the road right of way but not on the roadway and kept out of drainage ditches if possible. Crews cannot remove debris from private property. Collection of the debris should begin later this week. Residents with an area sufficient for burning are encouraged to burn the vegetative debris only.
- The tornadoes took an emotional as well as a physical toll on Bradley County. Qualified volunteer caregivers will be holding two free sessions to help storm victims process their emotional trauma. The first meeting is scheduled for Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m. at Arnold Elementary School. The second meeting is set for Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Boys & Girls Club. For more information, call 400-6428.
- Bradley County Schools Superintendent Johnny McDaniel reports that the first day of school since the storms went smoothly. McDaniel said there was near-perfect attendance for Blue Springs students attending Waterville Elementary. Good attendance is also reported for Michigan Avenue Elementary students whose classes were moved to First Baptist Church.
- The Red Cross, Salvation Army, Bradley Baptist Association and Men and Women of Action said there is an ongoing need for volunteers. For those interested in volunteering, please call the Salvation Army, the agency coordinating the volunteer effort. The number is 308-3467.
- The Bradley Baptist Association is still accepting calls from storm victims who need help with tree and brush removal. The BBA has logged more than 800 volunteer hours with heavy equipment such as Bobcats and tractors. Volunteer with chainsaws have donated more than 18,000 volunteer hours.
- Storm victims in the most heavily affected areas who may still need assistance with food can call the hot meals line at 464-1849. Relief agencies are currently assessing the need for a daily feeding program.
- Members of the public can report fraud, waste, abuse, or allegations of mismanagement involving disaster relief operations through the National Disaster Fraud Hotline, toll free, at 1-866-720-5721 or the Disaster Fraud e-mail at email@example.com.
The telephone line is staffed by a live operator around the clock, seven days a week, according to FEMA officials.