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Apison volunteers coordinate relief effort

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Firefighter and Collegdale resident JoJo Macatiag is helping coordinate volunteer relief efforts for people affected by the tornado in Apison. Photo by Rachel Sauls

With no coordinated volunteer initiative and little support from federal agencies, several Apison residents are organizing themselves into a concentrated relief effort to rebuild their community.

“People came and expected a lot of organization and coordination had already been done, and it wasn’t,” said Allison Deckman, email coordinator for the unofficial Apison volunteer network. “We think these organizations come in and coordinate, but they don’t. That’s not their job.”

Deckman, who has been involved since the storms hit a month ago, said relief efforts are now being concentrated in the “t-zone” where Apison Pike meets Clonts Road. This area, which was devastated by the storms, is also home to the Apison Pike Open House.

Free food, water and resources for those affected by the storms and information on how to help with the relief initiative are available at the Open House from 8 a.m. until well after dark, Deckman said.

The Open House is manned by volunteer firefighter and Collegdale resident JoJo Macatiag. After clearing land that belonged to his 78-year-old step-father, Macatiag stayed on the property to coordinate volunteers and help others in the community, said Deckman.

According to Macatiag, he and several others are currently working on sites to rebuild four houses in the immediate area. They plan to begin building this week if their building permits are processed and the foundations are approved on time, he said.

Although some families received funding from FEMA after the storms, Deckman said the most she has heard FEMA give anyone in Apison is $30,000 and most families received less. Deckman said she does not feel like this amount is enough to adequately rebuild and refurbish a lost home and pay rent in the meantime, which is why volunteers and donations are still needed.

Macatiag said the Apison Pike Open House is in need of ice and building material donations including shingles, lumber, sheet rock, concrete and rebar. Also needed are skilled workers to volunteer their time to help rebuild these homes, he said.

For more information about the Apison Pike Open House visit the center on the corner of Apison Pike and Clonts Road or email apisonvolunteer@gmail.com

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