McMINN COUNTY, Tenn. (WDEF) — Instead of shopping or relaxing, many residents are spending their winter break cleaning up from last month’s tornado.
Some elected officials were no exception.
“It really hits home with just about how bad it was,” said McMinn County Sheriff Joe Guy.
Some McMinn County officials are out of the office and in the community, helping with clean-up efforts from the November 30 tornadoes.
“The mayor kind’ve coordinated everything,” Guy said. “We’ve got inmate work crews out. We’ve got this crew of young people out, elected officials kind’ve pitching in, and so hopefully we’ll make a little progress.”
They’re picking up debris outside homes on Highway 307, giving residents a fresh start for the new year.
Guy says it’s been an eye opening experience for him.
“To get out here and move around and pick up people’s doors and find photographs, and you really see the impact on someone’s lives. That their lives were literally strewn for hundreds of yards through trees and brush,” Guy said.
Even though residents have made a lot of progress since the storm, there’s still plenty of work to go around.
“It’s really just grunt labor, just picking things up,” said McMinn County Mayor John Gentry. “A little chainsaw work, but mainly just bending over and picking things up. There’s enough around for everyone to help, and not a lot of high skill level needed here, just a willing heart.”
Gentry says he hates that a tornado came through McMinn County, but he’s glad it’s brought everyone together.
“It’s great to see the young people, some families that instead of doing the shopping thing and some stuff in between this break, they’ve been out helping folks, and every one of them I’ve talked to said, ‘This has been way more rewarding than how we traditionally spend this time,'” Gentry said.
“We’ve got a really good county,” Guy said. “Everybody works well together here. And just like today, folks just kind’ve pitch in and do whatever needs to be done.”
Mayor Gentry says they plan to make more clean-up trips.
If you’d like to help, call the mayor’s office.