KNOXVILLE — Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers with Knox County Association of Baptists were on the scene soon after tornadoes hit portions of the city.
Volunteers from Jefferson County Baptist Association and Nolachucky Baptist Association also assisted in the hardest hit areas of the storm which hit in mid-August, according to Wes Jones, disaster relief specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board.
“When a disaster happens locally, I do not always know about it, but we expect our local units to respond. We know they are always ready to meet the needs in their own communities as well as across our state, nation and globally,” Jones said.
The mission house of Knox County association had minor damage and lost electricity due to a downed tree on a power line, said Phil Young, who is serving as interim director of missions.
He noted that Bonita Wilson, the association’s community engagement director was on site coordinating the efforts of the DR Team and the local utility company to ensure the family in the mission house had a safe place to stay.
“Our local DR leaders (led by Stanley Roach) were on site checking out the damage immediately after the storm passed through. They helped assess the extent of the damage, offered guidance in making sure the property was safe, and set up a plan to begin repairing the damage.
“They were on site within 36 hours cleaning up the downed trees, repairing the damage to the mission house, and safeguarding against the dangers of the downed power lines,” Young said.
“Their quick response and excellent work made it possible for our local utility company to arrive the next day and set a new utility pole, which enabled the family in the mission house to only be displaced for a couple of nights.”
The team also assisted three Knoxville homeowners who suffered extensive tree loss and some had damage to their homes. Teams continue to work in the area assisting other homeowners.
Homeowner Rebecca Cash told the Baptist and Reflector that she and her two neighbors were given an estimate of $30,000 to remove the trees from all three sites.
The homeowners’ insurance did not include the removal of the trees, Cash said. “We feel hopeless. It’s such a big job.”
Cash learned about Tennessee Baptist DR from her mother who is a member of First Baptist Church, Lenoir City. They referred her to Roach and Knox County Association. He quickly secured volunteers and with the assistance of a chipper truck from Nolachucky Baptist Association, had the trees removed in two days.
“We are overwhelmed with gratitude,” Cash said.
Her neighbor, Michelle Johnson, agreed. “This is really a blessing to us.” B&R