Foundation needs more people to seek help with tornado repairs

Sarah Fay Campbell / The Newnan Times-Herald

Inspiritus Construction Director Daniel Taylor talks about a tornado damage repair project funded by the Tornado Relief Fund and volunteer work.


The Coweta Community Foundation and its partners have a large number of volunteers, as well as funds, to help the Cowetans rebuild after the tornado. Right now what they need is to hear from more people who need their help.

Skilled crews from Weaverland Disaster Service, a Mennonite group, are in town until April and can accomplish a lot – as long as the work is ready for them. Local volunteers and Inspiritus Disaster Relief are also working on local projects.

Help is available to repair tornado damage to homeowners, even if homeowners are insured. They just have to take the damage from the tornado.

“We need more families to sign up. We need more people to say, ‘I need help,'” said Kristin Webb, executive director of the foundation.

The foundation currently has three “tracks” for relief. Those in need of significant help rebuilding would go through the entire case management process. The “light track” is for homeowners who need help with labor but can afford to provide their own materials. Homeowners can use their insurance money to buy materials and get help with labor. There is also the rental track.

The foundation will be launching a fourth trail, to help with tree removal, in the New Year.

While most services are not available to those who own investment property, owners can take advantage of the light route, Webb said.

Local officials recently visited several construction sites to see the teams in action and to see an example of the work that can be done with the light track.

The work is funded by donations in aid of tornado victims and by proceeds from Alan Jackson’s benefit concert Where I Come From. Long-term recovery manager Rich DeWees’ salary is jointly funded by Coweta County and the Town of Newnan, but only for the next two and a half years.

So it’s important to get to work as quickly as possible, Webb said. Bringing in groups like Weaverland to help is “vital to the success of what we are able to do,” she said.

The foundation is currently involved in 31 active construction projects, said Daniel Taylor, director of construction at Inspiritus.

As for the construction work, at least for some of the houses, Taylor said they are trying to over-build for “future proof” or bullet proof, such as using treated lumber in some. areas where treated lumber would not normally be used and adding additional support where it is not needed. And the build quality is high.

Finding material can sometimes be a bit difficult, or at least slow. Cornerstone Building Brands donated $ 500,000 in building materials, but there was a long delay for windows in particular.

“Daniel did a great job of finding what was needed to move these projects forward,” DeWees said.

Some of the projects would have already been completed except for the wait on the windows.

Webb said she now carries apps for the light track in her car so she can distribute them to people.

She often hears people say they are not asking for help because they know there are other less healthy people who need more help.

But right now there is more help than work to be done.

About 80 percent of those who go through case management for help have insurance, Webb said.

“I told them – it doesn’t matter your income level, it doesn’t matter your education level, whatever your job, all that matters is that you got hit by the tornado,” Webb said. .

However, assistance can only help repairs due to tornado damage, not pre-existing needs.

“We have the resources to be able to help people, and we keep transforming and changing based on people’s needs. But we really need more people to say ‘Yes, please help’,” Webb said.

For more information, visit cowetafoundation.org or call 770-253-1833.

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