A Command center for these volunteers was set up at Macon County Jr. High School to match people and services they could provide with those most needing assistance. Macon County High School faculty volunteers worked the command center.
Outside the school, volunteers even came to serve the other working volunteers.
The First Baptist Church of Hendersonville softball outreach team grilled barbecue and served lunches and warm cookies to folks that were out helping LOVE Macon County storm victims back on their feet.
An organization with a great spirit for supporting, the “ Make a Wish Foundation,” and “Mothers Against Drunk Driving,” joined dozens of other groups and organizations serving the community. They were eager to help and work and not to busy to ask their neighbors in tornado ravaged Macon County, “How can we help, where and what do you want us to do?”
The Volunteer effort Saturday was directed by Jody Herrington, the director of disaster relief for Operation Blessing International. She and her staff worked tirelessly to get volunteers to the places they could help the most.
Carol Shrum, one volunteer, assisted Mr. Garland Crowder with listing the clean up needs he has at his Maple Grove Road home.
Like so many others, Crowder's personal property loss was great.
“The meter on the house that faced south now faces west,” he said, describing the loss of home and property. “You don't own this stuff we have down here; It's just lent for us to use,” said Mr. Crowder.
He'd come to the volunteer center seeking services to help him with clean up, and to salvage what he could of family belongings, old photos, anything of value.
Following the tornado, Mr. Crowder was trapped in his home, with the doors jammed shut until rescue workers arrived.
His wife and son were home during the “commotion” he referred to, and his small Pomeranian dog stayed by his side until relief came.
A whole host of volunteers filled the MCJHS center, among which was a Tennessee Disaster Relief group from multiple area Baptists churches, all under the umbrella of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Mrs. Iona Key of Old Hwy 52 was so pleased to receive help with tree removal from this volunteer group.
“I just knew you would be too busy,” she said. Pine trees blown down by the tornado were quickly sawed up and moved to the road for debris removal Satrurday.
It wasn't just the chainsaw relief that was offered, but also the “we're with you” hugs and support that showed the real hearts of those working through the Tennessee Disaster Relief program of the SBC.
Brandon and Heather Linton of the Green Grove community own a home with a steep pitched roof, severely damaged by the February 5 tornado. Their insurance was urging the homeowners to get the roof covered; a difficult job seemingly nobody wanted to do. Among the teams dispersed to his home area, directly in front of the destroyed Columbia Gulf pumping station, were a “chain saw” crew; they had skilled members that volunteered to climb the “straight up” roof and tarp it, preventing further damage.
“I tell people, I got more than I gave you, remarked volunteer Bill Rowe, adding
“God told us all to do this.”
The Lintons were told about the availability of help by John Brewer and wife Linda. John escorted the relief teams across parts of Macon County, climbing the roofs with them, showing them the way to some of the homes where hope is being restored piece by piece.
Kathy Risner, distant cousin of Stan Francis, came to volunteer because she had personally known the devastation of a tornado. Sandy Lakey helped with the relief effort by clearing away trees and providing encouragement to all that she met.
In the heart of Hurricane Katrina she found her call to do “God's work”.
Wanting to relocate, but having no success in selling their home, after Katina hit she said, “I I knew God left me there for a purpose.”
“It's been amazing at the people that have come forward,” said Heather Linton. She and her husband Brandon have two children. Although in the tornado's direct path, they all survived the tornado and horrific pumping station explosion.
The debris of the neighbors' mobile home was rolled into an unrecognizable, crumpled pile of debris, leaving the deck in near perfect condition, though the residents too survived.
Various churches were represented by the Tennessee Disaster Relief mission (too many to mention for fear of leaving some out). A full list of organizations volunteering this past week appears elsewhere in this week's paper.
One thing though was impeccably clear, “Don't give us the recognition or glory, give it all to God,” they all said. Rooted in their deep faith, they were sharing that faith through the best example, “free will” giving.
Note: With extensive efforts underway to restore tornado stricken areas of Macon County; many efforts may not be properly noted due to the the enormity of the storm and the twenty mile expanse of the massive clean up.
Macon County thanks you from the bottom of all our hearts!