Months later, tornado recovery continues; enters new phase

PUTNAM COUNTY – It’s been seven months since the fateful night in March when our community was ravaged a tornado, and the recovery is still ongoing. After months of distributing funds to those impacted by the disaster, recovery efforts are now transitioning into another new phase.

The Tornado Long Term Recovery Task Force is now focused on determining what long-term needs have arisen along with what resources the community still has available for those impacted.

“We are seeing many situations have changed over the last seven months,” said Putnam County Mayor Randy Porter. “Many survivors are only now able to identify some long-term needs that did not exist in the immediate weeks after the disaster. 

“We recently sent a new survey to survivors through the ‘ReadyOp’ texting service, that was setup immediately after the tornado, in an effort to collect information about current needs. We especially are looking at remaining repair and construction projects. Any survivor who has not completed a survey, but still has construction or repair needs, should call the info line at 931-646-INFO or (931-646-4636),” Porter added.

Starting this month, case managers from Inspiritus (formerly Lutheran Services) and UMCOR (United Methodist Council on Relief) will be working with a local volunteer Repair and Rebuild Committee to identify and assist survivors with remaining repair and construction needs. The committee will work under the umbrella of the Long Term Recovery Taskforce framework established by Porter and Cookeville Mayor Ricky Shelton.  

The new “Repair and Rebuild” Committee will include representatives from many groups active in tornado relief efforts. Members include Kevin Tucker, Randy and Debbie Adams, Stephanie Shearer, Johnny Harrison, Darrel Jennings, Dylan Woods, Pam Ealey, John Bell and Melinda Keifer. Representatives from UMCOR and Inspiritus will work with the committee to meet remaining repair and rebuild needs. 

The situation has also changed since March for many relief groups and organizations assisting with recovery. In an effort to collect information about what local resources are still available, a survey has been created for local groups to complete. Local non-profit, business or organization leaders are encouraged to complete the survey if you have financial, materials or volunteer resources able to help with repair or rebuild efforts. 

“Our community has so many caring and resourceful citizens,” said Shelton. “We ask everyone who can assist with the remaining repair and construction projects to please complete this survey as soon as possible. We are excited and thankful Inspiritus and UMCOR will be assisting our survivors with their remaining repair and rebuild needs.”

To request a survey, please email or call 931-783-2003.

“We are excited about moving into this new phase of recovery and are so appreciative of everyone who has helped with past recovery efforts or who continues to help as we enter this new phase,” said Porter. “Mayor Shelton and I are also working on some long-term planning, including potential memorial parks and infrastructure changes to the area impacted by the tornado. We look forward to making more detailed announcements about those efforts in the coming weeks.”

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