Numerous volunteers, local and state agencies have answered the call to help clear up debris from the EF-3 tornado that struck on July 27 at the Claiborne and Campbell county line.
Between local and state agencies and volunteer organizations, approximately 150 people are working on the debris clearance in the area, according to David Breeding, director of the Claiborne County Office of Emergency Management.
One of those volunteer organizations is the Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief Team, which is on-site with its Mobile Feeding Unit. Local trained volunteers are manning the unit and feeding the volunteers and workers.
They are feeding approximately 200 meals, three times a day, according to Bonnie Manning, one of the volunteers. Her husband Boyd is the crew chief for this particular feeding effort.
“If there are volunteers, they need to be fed,” she said, adding that they work with the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army, both of which provide the food that the Feeding Unit fixes and distributes.
“Seeing the community coming together like this is wonderful,” she said.
The Cumberland Gap Baptist Association (CGBA), the local group that mans the unit, has trained volunteers for many relief efforts. The group is capable of fixing 10,000 meals a day if needed, said CGBA director of missions, Ronnie Owens.
“We have a wonderful bunch of folks we’re working with and I’m just amazed at how this has come together,” Owens said.
The state agencies and some others are not allowed to go onto private property during the debris clean-up efforts, said Breeding, so volunteers have been very important in the effort. They are allowed to repair roofs, cut and move trees and help get items out of damaged or destroyed homes.
Residents who still need to remove debris should move it to within 15 feet of the roadway, Breeding added.
A State Task Force began work at the site on August 4 to clean storm debris from public right-of-ways in Claiborne and Campbell Counties. Task Force departments and agencies include: Claiborne County Emergency Management Homeland Security (OEMHS); Claiborne County Sheriff’s Office; Claiborne County Emergency Communications District; Campbell County Emergency Management Agency; Speedwell Volunteer Fire Department; Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief, Mobile Feeding Unit; Tennessee Department of Military (TEMA, National Guard); Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT); Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security (Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP)); Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation (TDEC); Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Division of Forestry and the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency.
As of Monday morning, 7,413.5 cubic yards of debris had been moved, according to a fact sheet from TEMA. In Claiborne County, 5,755.6 cubic yards and in Campbell County, 1,657.9 cubic yards.
That equals a 12” x 12” row of debris stretched for 37.9 miles.
Officials ask the general public to still avoid the area where the debris task force is working, unless you are a resident. The work area includes Dan Bean Road, Bowman Road, Mundy Lane and Old Highway 63 in Campbell County.
Claiborne County OEMHS asks residents to be aware that the may see smoke from the debris burn site on Bowman Road and should not be alarmed. Residents should also remain in the homes as much as possible.
News media and volunteers must report to the Incident Command Post before entering the debris area. The Command Post is located at Community Missionary Baptist Church, 5657 Old Highway 63, Speedwell.
Donations are still needed for those in the area. Monetary donations for tornado relief can be made to the American Red Cross by texting “redcross” to 90999, or to Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief team, which is on site at the Command Post.
Marisa Anders may be reached at 423-626-3222 or on Twitter@newsgirl88.