Town rebuilds after tornado without help from FEMA - KMSP-TV

Town rebuilds after tornado without help from FEMA

Posted: Updated:
ADAIRSVILLE, Ga. -

One local community didn't need the federal government's help to rebuild after a disaster.

In late January, Adairsville got hit by an F-3 tornado, which caused $85 million of damage. But the town did not qualify for FEMA aide, so they pulled themselves back up without the help of Uncle Sam.

The town didn't ask twice after its request for federal aid was turned down. Instead, word got out and volunteers from Michigan, Florida, Tennessee and other place converged on the town to help. Students, church groups, military members – all did their part to help residents rebuild.

Pastor Ken Coomer heads Adairsville Church of God, which led the rebuilding effort. They organized 6,000 volunteers who rebuilt and repaired 30 homes and several buildings, including Friendship Missionary Baptist Church.

"It doesn't matter about anything, If America works together, things will happen, and that's what happened and also I'm telling you, there's power in prayer," said Coomer.

Jackie McConnel's 100-year-old home was destroyed by the tornado. Nine months later, she had tears in her eyes as she showed off her new home.

"You can't ask for more," McConnel said.

Most repairs were possible because businesses, neighbors and strangers donated materials. The local government cut red tape in the permitting process. Now, others are learning from Adairsville.

"The model that was put in place here is going to be followed throughout the country," said Bartow County Emergency Management Director Paul Cuprowski. "We've gotten phone calls from around the country asking how we did it."

Within the next two weeks, the last of the clean-up jobs should be completed, finally leaving some time for rest and relaxation for the people of Adairsville.

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