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A community reaches out to help local storm victims

This past week has brought devastation to many areas of Johnson County. People from all over the county have reached out to help their fellow neighbors, friends and families in need.  The following information provides some of the ways people can help, as well as listing churches and organization that are ready to help victims of the recent tornado.

Old Mill Ministries, Trade Fire Department and New Image Weight Loss are accepting donations of food, supplies and clothing for tornado victims. Donations can be left at Trade Fire Department 24 hours a day.  Call Old Mill Ministries at 727-4927 or 291-2370 for a schedule of available times to either drop off donations or pick up.  They have received many clothing donations for those in need.  New Image Weight Loss is located at 524 South Church Street in Mountain City and can be reached at 727-4107.

First Christian Church, located at 401 W. Main Street in Mountain City, is accepting clothing donations and plans on distributing clothes on Wednesday and Thursday from 4:00 pm to 6:30 pm, and then again on Saturday beginning at 10:00 am. Currently, the church has a large supply of clothing in many sizes. First Christian Church will also be collecting cleaning supplies, gift cards to McDonald’s and Burger King as many people are staying in hotels and do not have access to cooking facilities, as well as taking donations of diapers, toilet paper and other personal items. They can be reached at 727-9151.
Blue tarps and plastic containers are needed desperately as rain is expected this week.  They can be dropped off at Bethany Baptist Church in Mountain City.
Life Christian Fellowship, located at 359 Industrial Drive off Dotson Lane is accepting donations of food, clothing and other items.  If you cannot drop items off, someone will come and pick them up.  Contact phone numbers for Life Christian Fellowship are 828-297-1835, 828-773-7745 or 768-0047.  The Community Church will offer assistance with building materials, food and clothing. Contact Pastor Drake at 727-8547 or 306-9394.  Those in need can also contact Pastor Ralph Howard of Bethany Baptist for food and clothing and any other needs. Cannon’s Furniture in Elizabethton has been in contact with Pastor Howard and have used bedding, sofas and other furniture to be donated.  Cannon’s contact number is 543-6937.
Nelson Chapel Baptist Church is collecting clothing, food, water, tarps and household items. They can be reached at 727-3055.  Employees of Freedom Mountain Academy have offered with clean up of debris and trees. They can be reached at 727-4905.
Should you want to make a donation to the victims of the tornado in Johnson County, checks can be sent to Johnson County Ministerial Alliance, PO Box 136, Mountain City, TN 37683.  Please make a notation that your donation is for tornado assistance.  The Ministerial Alliance is comprised of a group of ministers from several churches and denominations that work together with the people of the county, regardless of their religious affiliations.  
A benefit dinner will be held on Saturday, May 7th from 11:00 am to 8:00 pm for Mel Royston. Royston is the owner of the Monsoon Thai Restaurant on Route 67 in Butler.  Royston’s restaurant sustained severe damage during the tornado.  The benefit will be held at First Christian Church. Royston will be serving eggs rolls, stir-fry beef or chicken and fried rice.
For those who have access to the Internet, a Community Help Board for Johnson County has been set up on Facebook.  People can list services, donations and other services they are willing to provide. Victims or friends and family of those in need can access this information.  Contact information is provided.  Several people have posted information on available lodging for those who lost their homes, along with contact phone numbers.  Dwight Briggs of Covenant Bible Church has a place available and can be reached at 768-0018.
Bud and Nancy Gentry of Dewey Christian Church, along with members of their church, have been out into the communities where the tornado struck.  On their first run out into the community, they were able to bring food and cases of water to 150 homes.  “People were coming out of the woodwork,” said Nancy Gentry.  The group was also able to bring gifts for children, blankets and personal items, as well as offering spiritual help.  “Some of them just need somebody to talk to,” Gentry said.  They are seeking donations of baby wipes, diapers and toilet paper, as well as food items such as crackers and canned goods. Dewey Christian Church plans another delivery at the beginning of next week.  The contact phone number is 727-5812.  If no one is available, Gentry asks that the callers leave a message.
Student members of Students Against Destructive Decisions (S.A.D.D.) collected $2,023.29 during a roadblock this past Saturday.  The students are planning on making comfort kits to distribute to the tornado victims.  They are also planning a food drive in the near future.
On Thursday, May 1, First Christian Church will hold a prayer walk.  A route will be set up with stops along the way for prayer time for county and city officials, police, emergency services personnel and victims of the tornado.  Should it be raining, the service will be held inside.  After the walk, there will be a prayer time in the sanctuary of the church.  May 1 is the National Day of Prayer.
Ellen Watkins, the local representative for the American Red Cross, has been busy the last few days delivering meals to victims of the tornado in various parts of the county.  The American Red Cross has supplied water, sandwiches and breakfast foods to those in need. Watkins explained that at this point many people are in shock and disbelief, hoping that their situation will just go away.  According to Watkins, this is a normal reaction.  While many people have accepted food and water from the American Red Cross, Watkins relayed there are some that have refused help.  “I’m hoping they’ll come out and let us help,” said Watkins, “We really want to.” Should you need assistance, contact the local branch of the American Red Cross at 727-0058.  Currently, the local Red Cross has sent out an urgent request for donations of bottled water, blue tarps, food, diapers and baby food.
The Johnson County Emergency Heating Fund for Seniors is always in need of firewood for their yearly winter heating assistance program. Anyone that had trees destroyed during the storm and has no need of the wood may donate it to the Heating Fund by calling Gwyn Bell at 727-5726.
Johnson County, like many other communities through the tornado-ravaged South, have banned together in this time of need. If you are interested in donating or helping with clean up and repairs, there are many opportunities available as the tornado victims struggle to rebuild their lives.
Rep. Scotty Campbell sent this list of phone numbers and websites that might be of help to those in need of assistance as well as those wishing to offer assistance.
FEMA HELP-LINE 1-800-621-3362
TEMA 1-800-258-3300 or 615-741-0001
DEPT OF COMMERCE & INSURANCE 1-800-342-4029 for insurance issues or 1-800-342-8385 for non-insurance issues
DEPT OF COMMERCE & INSURANCE to verify vendors and contractors 1-800-544-7693
LEGAL RESOURCES: 1-888-395-9297
Disaster Assistance Link
Facebook Disaster Link:
TN FOODBANK by region/area link
Constituents may also wish to contact their local churches, schools, and health departments for additional resources.
TEMA encourages those affected to make a list of damages, take photos, and register with community resources, including TEMA and FEMA, and their insurance carriers. TEMA advises it may take a few weeks for this information to be processed, so ask everyone to try to be patient as the agencies are dealing with this situation as quickly as they can.