Group building a new home for the vet who lost his in the Easter tornado

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CLEVELAND, Tennessee (WDEF) – A Cleveland army veteran is getting a brand new home after he and his family lost theirs in the Easter Tornado.

New’s 12 Bekah Birdsall tells us how the community has stepped up to help.

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U.S. Army Veteran J. L. Cross and his family lost their home when the Easter tornado tore through their neighborhood.

While all his family members were safe after the storm, the home he had build in the 70’s along with his belongings were destroyed.

Operation FINALLY HOME, a national nonprofit organization, brought the community together, gathering donations locally and nationally, to build the Cross family a new home.

“When we heard first the tornado that hit over Easter, we wanted to be able to help as much as we could, we serve veterans. And so, when I reached out to Charlotte, to see if she could identify a veteran, she said, she named one off, Mr. Cross very quickly, we got our partners together and particularly with Lowes.

Charlotte Peak, who organized and coordinated the homebuilding and also a Bradley County Commissioner, said they started building Memorial Day weekend and hope to have it ready by Labor Day.

Contractor Charles Blankinship says many have not only donated supplies but also their services from contractors, electricians, and many more.

“It’s probably going to be a little better than what he had before, you know, if it comes out that way it’s better for him, just hope the tornado stays that way.”

“I just enjoy the fact that a lot of people participated, you know.”

J.L. Cross says seeing his home destroyed was rough and still is, but is thankful for the support of the community.

“It’s great, these guys have worked hard. It means the world to me, to be back home.”

Operation FINALLY HOME is filling the home with notes of love that will remain in the walls after construction.

“The community gets to come by and put notes of thanks, scripture, be what it may into the walls. We got some notes in there from across the country. And particularly after they’re able to come back after the home is completed, they know where a note is, they know what was said, and there’s a huge sense of comfort that comes over them because they know the community has come together to support them.”

Reporting in Cleveland, TN, I’m Bekah Birdsall, News 12 Now.