SPEEDWELL (WATE) – Local volunteers from the Red Cross were in the hard hit area of Claiborne County Tuesday after an EF-3 tornado ripped through homes in the Speedwell community Sunday night.
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Clean up efforts continue for the dozens of families who survived the storm.
The devastation is still clear as you look around the Speedwell community as many people spent the day trying to pick up the pieces. Volunteers from the Red Cross and neighboring churches have turned up in full force to offer everything from a sandwich to a helping hand.
A smile during a time of disaster can go a long way. Strangers and friends alike have been stopping by homes like the Hoskins’ as they work to clean up.
“It’s unreal the amount of people come by and say, ‘Can I help you?'” said Eddie Hoskin.
Most of their roof is gone, and Tuesday the Red Cross stopped by to hand out food to the family and the Servpro team working to clean up the mess from the storm.
“Everyone wants to help as much as they can. This is a little bit of a slow process right now but we’ll get through this. This is a lot of devastation, but we are very blessed,” said Hoskin.
Stewart Chapman has been volunteering with the Red Cross for 15 years and he’s seen his fair share of disasters and the people left to pick up the pieces.
“They’re in pain. They’ve lost everything. Some of them, they’re at the age [of] ‘What am I going do? How am I going to start over?’ And it makes you wonder too. And we want to do more, but we can only do so much,” said Chapman.
Just a sandwich or clean up supplies mean the world for a community devastated by mother nature.
Pat Bowman is an example of just how lucky this community was Sunday evening.
“I thought of that old song. ‘When the storms of life are raging, stand by me.’ And God stood by me. He took care of me. Not one scratch on me,” said Bowman.
The long process of documenting all the damage began Tuesday.
Claiborne County Emergency Management Agency director David Breeding took our crew along as he checked on homes like Bowman and her neighbor’s.
“Basically what we’re doing is go to each house, walk around it and try to assess what damage has been done to it,” said Breeding.
They’re taking pictures and documenting,l all in an effort to calculate if the county could receive federal assistance.
“The state of Tennessee has to have $8.5 million in uninsured damage in order to meet a threshold just to ask for a declaration,” he said.
Breeding says there’s no doubt Claiborne County will reach their threshold, but even if they do receive federal reimbursements, it could be a long while before money reaches those in need.
“It’s a long process. We’re still trying to get some FEMA money from the 2011 disaster we had.”
For Bowman and so many others, it’s not necessarily about the money, but the homes they’ve lost where so many memories were made.