Clean up continues in TN

Cleanup continued in Mossy Grove as hundreds of volunteers worked to clear debris left by Sunday night's tornado.

BY TRAVIS DUNN | MOSSY GROVE, TN | November 14, 2002

Cleanup continued here Wednesday, as hundreds of volunteers worked to clear debris left by Sunday night's tornado and distribute food and clothing to survivors.

All missing people were accounted for Wednesday morning, but there was still plenty of work to do.

Cleanup proceeded at a swift pace. The debris that only a day before was strewn all over town was being pushed by bulldozers into enormous mounds Wednesday, and residents set several bonfires to burn up tree limbs and trash.

American Red Cross trucks brought supplies to survivors and workers here, as well as in Joyner and Petros, communities that were also hard hit by the storm.

Working closely with the Southern Baptist Convention, Red Cross workers took food prepared at the Calvary Baptist Church in Wartburg and drove it out to the hungry.

"As long as there are operations on the ground, we'll provide mobile feeding," said Red Cross spokesman Scott Davis.

The main goal, he said, was to get life back to normal as quickly as possible.

"As long as you keep seeing all these trucks and police cars and satellite trucks, it disrupts the normalcy of the community," he said.

Three members of Hearts With Hands, a nondenominational disaster relief group from Asheville, N.C., arrived in Mossy Grove Wednesday morning.

Michael West, Will Bradley and James Brown said they were making a preliminary assessment in order to determine how many volunteers they would need to send in.

West said they had a team of 24 volunteers ready to deploy on moment's notice, as well as a volunteer roster of more than 300. And they already had a tractor-trailer loaded with supplies on its way.

"Within a few days, we'll have work crews," West said. "We're hoping to provide a work force and supplies."

WECO, Morgan County's only radio station, was also helping out, by turning its format into a nonstop talk format.

"We literally opened up our phone lines and let people call in and say, 'I'm alive,'" said WECO co-owner Ed Knight. "We ended up becoming the unofficial missing persons list for the county."

Knight said WECO provided the only means of communication for many here, since most residents were without electricity and telephones immediately after the storm.

The Fellowship Baptist Church, a quarter mile north of the disaster area, was offering a lunch of chili and coffee Wednesday afternoon.

The Rev. Bret Pallotta said his church wanted to provide a place to eat closer to the disaster site, because traffic had been snarled up on Route 27 all Monday and Tuesday, and people were having a hard time getting to the kitchen at the Calvary Baptish Church.

There were also several local businesses on the scene Wednesday, including R&R Excavating from Harriman.

Owner J.E. Raymond sent in heavy equipment and a team of ten men who volunteered their time. One of Raymond's trucks drove down Tuesday night, after finishing up a job in Toledo, Ohio. Another came down from Kentucky.

"We're cleaning up for anybody that needs it done," Raymond said. "Times like this a lot of people get advantage taken of them. We're here to prevent that. They're neighbors, and they're going through a hard time right now. These are good people, and we're doing all we can to make it a little easier for them."

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