Men and Women of Action Respond to Bradley County Tornadoes

Cleveland, TN–On Easter Sunday April 12, 2020, Bradley County, Tennessee was hit by four tornadoes ranging from EF1-EF3 between 11 pm and midnight. The next morning, April 14, Cleveland, Tenn. Mayor Kevin Brooks called Teddie Bennett, Men and Women of Action Administrative Director, to see if MWOA could help coordinate a tornado relief distribution center at the Community Hall Church in Cleveland. The Bradley County Sheriff’s Command Post was set up at this location as well.

Men and Women of Action is a non-profit faith-based group with roots in the Church of God, that provides opportunities for men and women to volunteer in building projects, disaster relief, humanitarian and celebration teams around the world (

MWOA project coordinators, Melissa Steve and Alex DiSiena began to make calls, contacts and started the process of setting up the distribution center with the few volunteers on hand. Donations began to come in from local churches, businesses, non-profits and individuals. From April 14-18, 105 volunteers served over 600 hours in assisting and handing out over 1,000 bags of groceries, tarps, water, cleaning supplies, toiletries and baby supplies with a value of over $20,000. In addition, MWOA served more than 1,550 meals to tornado victims, first responders, work crews and volunteers. A specially designed shower trailer was also hooked up at this location for those residents who had no electricity or power to have a hot shower.

Volunteers unload a trailer of supplies at the Command Center for tornado relief (click image to enlarge)

Phil Thompson, MWOA Director, was heavily involved in cleanup at the tornado devastated sites. MWOA worked in conjunction with Cross-Net, who organized the cleanup and work teams throughout the county. MWOA coordinated chain-saw teams along with the use of MWOA track loaders and equipment. Jeff Salyer Sr., MWOA warehouse manager, kept the warehouse open, so that the MWOA work crews could have access to tools, equipment, and supplies. God’s Pit Crew from Danville, Virginia, a non-profit crisis response team, came in with heavy equipment and skilled volunteers who worked several days on numerous sites. Over 30 volunteers from Rio Central Church in Maryville, TN worked on cleanup, chain sawing and brought a bucket truck to help with a difficult cleanup project. Several local Church of God churches including North Cleveland, Westmore, South Cleveland, Sequoyah, and Mt. Olive also partnered with MWOA in cleanup and debris removal.

Special thank you acknowledgements go to the Bradley County Sheriff’s Department; Troy Spence, Director of Bradley County Emergency Management Agency; and Shawn Fairbanks, Director of Bradley County Emergency Management Services/Fire Department. Thanks to Cleveland Mayor Kevin Brooks for working tirelessly with MWOA in every way to make this happen. There were so many volunteers who showed up to work or dropped off supplies and we didn’t get their names. THANK YOU SO MUCH!

MWOA compiled a list of those who assisted with product, donations, food or services:

Businesses and Organizations: Poor Boy’s Truck , Coca Cola Co., Wright Brothers Construction, Hardee’s, Walmart, Cooke’s, Target, Dunkin Donuts, Buddy’s Barbecue, Rebel Drive-In, Billy Haney Meat Co., Flowers Baking Co., Cleveland Tent, AllSafe Storage, Keep America Beautiful, Operation Compassion, United Way, Red Cross, Salvation Army, Church of God International Offices, Pathway Press, First Baptist Church, North Cleveland Church of God, Community Hall Church, Grace Assembly, Galilee Baptist Church, Bradley County Schools, Cleveland City Schools.

Individuals: Ross Tarver, Lamar Orr, Jake Stum, Garry and Lauren Rodgers, Jim Seitz, Cameron Sedgwick, Brittany McGeehee, Jon and Karen Franklin, Franklin Odom, John and Lisa Turner
Arhmin Thompson, Josh Rodgers, Patricia McClung, Greg and Darla Rush.

By Teddie Bennett, MWOA Administrative Director

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