Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Driving around Apison, evidence of the April 27, 2011 tornadoes remains in the form of downed trees in wooded areas, fresh paint on newly constructed homes and filled-in holes on lots where trees used to stand.
But these traces of storm damage are small in comparison to the homes which were completely destroyed and the hundreds of downed trees that blocked roadways and crushed vehicles 15 months ago. While many churches, organizations and individuals partnered to help with storm relief, one committee that itself was a collaborative effort also pooled its resources and quietly raised more than $40,000 for the relief effort.
“I could never thank you all enough for what you’ve done,” said Hamilton County Chief of Emergency Management Bill Tittle. “You’ve set an example for other communities and organizations and I want to thank you for all you’ve done.”
The committee, made up of representatives from The Salvation Army, Samaritan Center, Apison Open House Volunteers and local churches and chaired by Apison resident and Hamilton County Trustee Bill Hullander, met monthly. Together the group allocated funds for relief efforts and oversaw community needs that weren’t met by Federal Emergency Management Agency or other agencies.
The committee held its last meeting last week, and at that meeting decided that the remaining money in the relief fund would be donated to the Samaritan Center. With that donation came the stipulation that the center assist qualified Apison residents afford the increased property taxes that are expected as a result of rebuilding their homes and donate $3,000 to Apison Open House Volunteers to assist with purchasing a trailer to haul equipment.
“Our group plans on staying together and [to] continue doing what we’re doing, whether it’s in Apison, Harrison or wherever,” said Apison Open House co-founder Doug Walter. “We are very interested in keeping this project going as long as we can and have talked about doing it within a 500-mile radius of Chattanooga.”
The committee’s final piece of unfinished business is installing a monument with the names of people whose lives were lost in the storm and a flagpole along Apison Pike. Members expect to complete that project later this summer and mark it with a media event and small program.