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Tri-Cities rallying to help Middle Tennessee neighbors

Sue Guinn Legg • Updated Mar 4, 2020 at 11:20 PM

Local efforts to help Middle Tennessee communities recover from Tuesday’s devastating tornadoes are underway and are expected to continue for many weeks ahead.

Heather Carbajal, executive director of the American Red Cross of Northeast Tennessee, put it succinctly on Wednesday when she told the Johnson City Press the recovery efforts “will be a marathon, not a sprint.”

A team of eight local Red Cross volunteers with training in a variety of aspects of disaster relief left the regional Red Cross office in Kingsport for a two-week deployment across the swath of impacted communities on Tuesday. Also going was the local Red Cross emergency response vehicle, which has been put into service in food delivery efforts in the Cookeville area.

Carbajal said three more local volunteers joined the effort on Wednesday, and others affiliated with the Northeast Tennessee Red Cross office are prepared to go as needed.

In addition to feeding efforts that are being coordinated with food vendors in impacted communities, the local Red Cross volunteers will work in specialized areas, including residential damage assessment, needed to determine specific resources needed by the survivors. One local volunteer with training in health care services will help storm victims at one or more of the Red Cross shelters that have been set up across the region.

For others who wish to help in the effort, Carbajal said volunteer training is available and can be initiated by calling the regional Red Cross in Kingsport at 423-7655-4222 or online at redcross.org.

To contribute to the recovery efforts, monetary donations to help meet the survivors’ immediate needs can also be made at the Red Cross website, by calling 1-800-REDCROSS.

Checks earmarked for “tornado relief” can be mailed to the local Red Cross office at 660 Eastern Star Road, Kingsport, TN 37663, or a $10 donation to the disaster relief effort can be made by texting “Red Cross” to 90999.

Carbajal referred those who wish to donate supplies for the storm victims to a collection site set up at Bristol Motor Speedway on Wednesday.

Working in partnership with Food City, BMS began collecting donations of essential supplies for people in tornado-hit communities Wednesday morning and will continue the collection from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily through Friday.

Communications team members at BMS said the collection got off to a good start on Wednesday. They expressed appreciation for the support of community members who have already donated and to the Alsco linen and uniform company office in Kingsport, which is gathering donations from its local food vendors to deliver to the track.

The donations will be transported by Food City to the Holy Rosary Church in Nashville, which is working with the Red Cross to distribute items to those in need.

In addition to the Red Cross, BMS recommends financial donations to help with the relief efforts be made to the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee online at cfmt.org; the Nashville Community Resource Center at crcnashville.org or the Music City Inc. charitable foundation of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp.

BMS General Manager Jerry Caldwell said, “Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those affected by this terrible tragedy, and just as we’ve done in the past when we see a neighbor in need, we want to lend a helping hand. We are grateful to our partners and friends in the community for rallying together to help support all of those affected recently by the devastating tornadoes in Middle Tennessee.”

Bank of Tennessee, Carter County Bank and Mountain Community Bank locations are also collecting donations for agencies working to help tornado survivors in the Middle Tennessee communities where they do business.

The banks will accept donations of cleaning supplies, school supplies and personal care items through March 11. The donations will be delivered to the Wilson County Fire Department, West Wilson Middle School and Donelson Christian Academy on Thursday, March 12. A complete list of requested donations will be posted online at BankOfTennessess.com.

If there is a need or a project in your neighborhood the Good Neighbor column can assist with, contact Sue Guinn Legg at 423-722-0538, [email protected] or P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605.

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