Apison's storm cleanup runs short of volunteers - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Going on ten weeks, Apison's storm cleanup runs short of volunteers

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APISON, HAMILTON COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -- The job for which Emily Hill and Millie Draper have volunteered for, is among the more tedious, especially on one of Southeast Tennessee's hotter days.

"Even the dirty jobs are the jobs that need to be done," says Hill. "This is where we want to be."

She and her mother, Millie Draper, are in Apison to honor "Granny Bea."

"Today (Tuesday) is the anniversary of my mother's (Beatrice Smith's) passing and her grandmother's passing," says Draper.

"She was always, always, always a woman of faith, but also a woman of action," recalls Hill.

This day, their job is clearing the last of the debris from a site where four people lost their lives April 27.

"So that the families could come by and not be reminded of the devastation, and move from mourning--to just remembering," says Hill.

Besides her mother, the work crew numbers five, including four grade-students with rakes and shovels.

"We've seen a drop-off of our volunteers," coordinator Doug Walter says.

The Volunteer Center's to-do board fills faster than power to act.

"The projects we've got left aren't' as exciting as the projects were," Walter says.

The bigger picture is that Apison's challenge has changed. It demands volunteers possessed of more than willing hands and strong backs.

"Carpenters, people to put the houses together, people to hang drywall," Walter says.

Jojo Makatiag has all but lived in the tornado zone since April 27. The Volunteer Center sits on his stepfather's land. An EF-4 tornado took his stepfather's home.

"Put yourself in their shoes," he says. "If this was your home, if this was your property, if this was your life scattered in a million pieces, would you want somebody helping you in this 90 degree weather?"

For Granny Bea's daughter and granddaughter, laboring in her spirit is about more than what they can do for one family, in one day.

"It's moving past the grieving stage," Hill says. "And get to just remembering the wonderful times, and no so much for what we've lost."

This is gonna be an annual thing," Draper says. We were saying this morning, we're gonna do this every year."

Southern Adventist University will host a fundraiser for Apison's storm victims and volunteer efforts at 7PM on July 13, in its gymnasium.

The Volunteer Center still seeks donations of labor, equipment and food.

To help, call (423) 752-0316, or Doug Walter (423) 488-8661, Leilani Hagerman (423) 240-8430, Allison Deckmon (423) 309-5600 or email windybrooks@uwchatt.org.

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