Clearing away doesn't necessarily buy a clean start - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

After the Storm: clearing away doesn't necessarily buy a clean start

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CLEVELAND, BRADLEY, COUNTY (WRCB) -- Were Friday your first look at Archer Lane in Cleveland, you'd wonder how it could have been any worse the night the tornado hit, three weeks and two days ago.

Mark Suazo knows better.

"The first two nights after it happened, I stayed here in a chair every 20 minutes," says Suazo. "I had to run off looters or other people in the neighborhood who didn't belong here."

This day?

"They've made tremendous progress!," says Suazo.

"They" are the private cleanup crews with IED out of Alabama, clearing away trees, brush, and the debris that falls into the 'catchall' category known as C & D: construction and demolition material.

A dump truck can hold 43 cubic yards, roughly 11-and-one-half tons of 'whatever." But on Archer Lane, it fills so quickly that a crew is likely to make 18 trips to Bradley County's landfill in a 12-hour shift.

Mark Suazo is about to give up counting.

And accounting for his own losses.

"You've got one side of the government giving you money, and another trying to take everything you've got," says Suazo.

His homeowner's insurance has settled; roughly $54,000

He's filed for help with FEMA too.

But he's been under- or unemployed since June, when he was part of a massive layoff at the carpet mills in nearby Dalton, GA.

He'd been commuting to Kentucky, to work in a coal mine near Middlesboro. He no longer can afford the gasoline, or to rent the apartment he called home while there.

"I try not to think about it," says Suazo.

Midway through filing for bankruptcy, the tornado may give his creditors most all that they hadn't taken, or would have.

As he looks at the shell that was his home, roofless, windowless, missing two of its outer walls,

he busies himself by packing a box with CDs and DVD's.

"I'm going through, and getting a last look at my memories," says Suazo. "And just kind of letting go, as I go."

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