Five Months Later, Many Chattanooga-Area Tornado Victims Are Still Fighting For Aid

 Tuesday, September 22, 2020

 Chattanooga Times Free Press

When a 1,500-yard-wide tornado tore through the Chattanooga area just before midnight on Easter, thousands of buildings were devoured in a matter of minutes, leaving locals to rebuild their homes and lives.

Now, five months after the 145 mph winds of the EF3 tornado battered the area, some individuals are still fighting for relief from the financial impact of the storm week.

Hamilton County Commissioner Sabrena Smedley — who represents Ooltewah, Collegedale and other affected areas — and Chattanooga Councilman Darrin Ledford — who represents some of the city’s hardest-hit neighborhoods — drew attention to the remaining damage in their districts and surrounding areas, highlighting the obstacles many of their constituents were facing while trying to rebuild.

"I just can’t believe the devastation that’s still there," Smedley told the Times Free Press on Friday. "It’s almost hard to even drive around that area. In some ways, it looks worse now than it did in April."

Smedley has been working toward tornado relief since the night it happened, helping canvass neighborhoods to assess the damage and later helping connect residents with recovery resources. Still, she says the community is just scratching the surface of rebuilding.