Holston leaders are collecting information and mobilizing to respond to March 2 tornadoes sweeping through the region.
"It appears that the hardest hit area in our conference is near Chattanooga," said Jim Fetzer, Holston disaster response coordinator. "An EF-3 tornado (165 miles per hour) caused severe damage in the Harrison and Ooltewah area, before moving on to Cleveland. Many homes were destroyed and hundreds were damaged."
Members of Holston's Early Response Team (ERT) will meet and lodge at Ooltewah United Methodist Church beginning March 7 to provide aid, Fetzer said. The ERT is comprised of certified, trained members.
"At this point I suspect our primary work tasks will be brush and debris clean-up and tarping," Fetzer said.
Bishop James Swanson has applied for a $10,000 emergency grant from UMCOR for tarps and other needs, said Anne Travis, Holston director of connectional ministries. "We have been asked by TEMA to provide water and tarps in multiple counties."
TEMA is the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.
The Rev. Charles Maynard, Maryville District superintendent, said the Tellico Plains UMC parsonage and sanctuary were damaged.
"The parsonage, which they rent out, was heavily damaged but certainly not a loss," Maynard said. "The sanctuary is damaged but usable. We worshiped yesterday morning in the sanctuary even though it was damaged."