Progress continues in Bradley Co. cleanup - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Progress continues in Bradley Co. cleanup

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BRADLEY COUNTY, TN. (WRCB)-- Significant progress is still being made in efforts to restore necessary services to storm damaged areas of Bradley County.

Four damage assessment teams are in the affected areas today. At 11 AM the teams report 260 homes totally destroyed, 180 with major damage, 127 with minor damage and 120 affected. Approximately 10 businesses have reported damage.

All county roads have at least one lane open, with the exception of Minnis Road, just south of Park View Elementary School. Minnis Road was closed PRIOR to the storm due to road settling which could damage a vehicle.

Four roads are closed inside the city of Cleveland. They are: Freewill Road, Blythe Ferry Road, Linda Drive off Blackburn Road, and 21st street off Dalton Pike.

A plan is being formulated by the EMA for brush removal from the affected areas. EMA Director Troy Spence is requesting assistance from an engineering group from the Tennessee National Guard to assist with this plan. Until the plan is in place the EMA has asked the state to lift burn restrictions in the County for brush and untreated lumber. That request has been granted. Burn restrictions remain in place inside the city of Cleveland.

Permission to burn is for brush and untreated lumber only. Citations will still be issued for burning such materials as asphalt shingles, plastics, household garbage, treated lumber and construction materials. Some wood chipping of brush is now under way by the road department.

County Road Superintendent Tom Collins says progress is being made in clearing roads. However, some are still one lane only in the affected areas. Mr. Collins say their work is being hampered by unauthorized traffic, especially in the hardest hit subdivisions of Willbrook, Bates Pointe, Mountain View and the Wilhoit Drive area near the Hamilton County line in the Southwest area of the County. Access to these areas is being restricted by the Sheriff's Department to Emergency workers, volunteers and residents.

The EMA is requesting that people who do not belong in those areas to stay away.

Director Spence has expressed his appreciation for all volunteers and churches who are supplying food to residents, volunteers and emergency workers. However, Mr. Spence urges all groups to coordinate their feeding efforts through the Hiwassee Chapter of the Red Cross at 423-472-1595. These uncoordinated feeding efforts are resulting in lots of food spoilage and much of it being thrown away.

People or companies wishing to volunteer the use of heavy equipment to assist in the cleanup effort should call the EMA Department at 728-7289. Unfortunately, equipment with metal tracks can be used off roadways ONLY.  Rubber tracked equipment is required on roadways to prevent potentially millions of dollars in damage.

Progress is also being made by Cleveland Utilities and Volunteer Energy Cooperative in restoring power in the affected areas. Cleveland Utilities still reports 3,735 customers are still without power. C.U. officials expect it could take 7 to 10 days before complete service is restored due to the magnitude of the damage. Ten out of town line crews are now concentrating their efforts in the areas where the most serious damage occurred.

Volunteer Energy has more than 2,500 customers without electric service. VEC is focusing on restoring their main feeder lines to service. VEC has 15 contract crews working, in addition to their own crews.

Free bottled water is available to anyone who needs it. Tarver distributing has stationed a tractor trailer load of bottled water near the South Wal-Mart at the old A. J's Market on Dalton Pike.

Again, emergency officials are calling for all sightseers and non residents of the affected areas to remain off the roads in the six damaged zones.  The additional traffic is hampering clean up efforts, therefore, the sheriff's office has implement an identification system to allow only residents into these areas.

Sheriff Jim Ruth says an 11 pm to 6 am curfew in those areas affected by the storms will continue to be in effect through the weekend.

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