Central Teachers Volunteer to Help Those Affected by Easter Tornadoes

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Image donated to the Central Digest

CENTRAL TEACHERS VOLUNTEER TO HELP THOSE AFFECTED BY EASTER TORNADOES -- Central teachers and Digest Staff Writer Sarah Katheron Latham volunteer through the YMCA to clean up storm damage.

Sarah Katheron Latham, Staff Writer

Tornadoes tore through Bradley, Murray, and Hamilton County on Easter Sunday, April 12. It left 344 homes destroyed and 830 homes damaged in some way, leaving families to go through what is left of their houses. The YMCA coordinated volunteers to help families clear up the damage around their houses.

“The National Weather Service says the tornado in Hamilton County was approximately 9 miles long and 1,500 yards wide, with wind speeds above 135 miles per hour… Chattanooga Fire Chief Phil Hyman says the damage from Sunday night’s tornado spans a distance of at least 4 miles of ‘relatively consistent damage,'” News Channel 9 stated.

Online schooling was suspended for the week following the tornado, so Central teachers took this opportunity to volunteer and help families affected by the storm. Volunteers arrived at the YMCA at 11:45, where they were divided into groups that would car pool to sites that needed help cleaning up after the storm. One of Thursday’s volunteer groups consisted of several teachers from Central: geometry teacher Beth Rawson, senior English teacher Kara Fannon, Algebra teacher Shela Brazeale, and Choir teacher Katheron Latham.

“I volunteered because there was a need, I had the time, and it was the least that I could do for our devastated community,” stated Fannon.

Every person with damage and debris from the tornado had to sort through the trash and debris on their property and determine their next steps. The county asked people to separate debris into four different piles in order for them to be collected. Homeowners also had to decide what was salvageable throughout all of the damage.

Image from WRCB
The Hamilton County of Office of Emergency Management sets guidelines for tornado cleanup.

Sifting through debris is the daunting task that volunteers helped homeowners complete. Losing one’s home through a natural disaster is a burden mentally and emotionally, so people from the community signed up to help with the physical burdens.

It is hard to know how to mitigate situations that are out of everyone’s control, like tornadoes, but sometimes picking up shingles or sorting through household items helps more than people realize.  Those who are not heavily affected by the storms have come together to set up donation sites to provide whatever assistance possible.

“I learned that we have a community of people who care and want to help others in need. I was blessed to see so many volunteers from all walks of life. Although the devastation was horrific, the coming together of our community was beautiful,” concluded Fannon.