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Tornado Relief Fund exceeds $185,000

WINDSOR – Four and one-half months have passed since a deadly, EF-3 tornado ripped through the heart of Bertie County, killing two people and disrupting the lives of dozens more.

In the weeks and months since that twister, one that spun off Hurricane Isasis, those impacted by that storm have been aided by the generosity of others. With assistance from the Self-Help Credit Union, the Morning Road Tornado Relief Fund was established. Monetary donations began to pour in and the Bertie County Board of Commissioners developed a plan on how to disperse the funds to those who needed it the most.

That fund would eventually grow to nearly $186,000.

“The Bertie County Board of Commissioners would like to extend a tremendous thank you to everyone who contributed to the Bertie County Morning Road Tornado Relief Fund,” the board said in a statement sent Dec. 18.

The statement noted that the tornado left more than 25 families without a home. Several Go Fund Me accounts were created by various people near and far to raise money for the families affected. There were a number of concerns from organizations and citizens who wanted to give, but also wanted to ensure that the funds contributed would truly go to those affected.

Bertie County local government answered that call and created the Bertie County Morning Road Tornado Relief Fund. The Commissioners created a systematic way to equitably distribute funds to citizens impacted by the tornado for temporary housing, food, and personal assistance.

“We were pleased to be able to provide a safe and secure way for people to contribute financially to these families”, said the Bertie County Board of Commissioners.

First, $1,000 was given to each of the families of the two citizens killed by the tornado to assist with the costs of funeral expenses. Next, funds were distributed based on the extent of damage caused to homes as a result of the tornado. The categories of damage established by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) include (1) Destroyed, (2) Major, and (3) Minor.

One week after the tragic event occurred, the county began dispersing the first round of funds, which included gift cards in the amounts of $500 to residents who lived in homes that were destroyed, $300 to those with major damage, and $100 to those with minor damage.

A week later, a second round of funds was dispersed via gift cards, giving $500 to families whose homes were destroyed; $300 to those with major damage; and $150 to those with minor damage.

The third round of funds consisted of checks in the amounts of $2,105 to those in the destroyed category, $1,565 to those in the major category; and $600 to those with minor damage. Those three categories also received gift cards in the amounts of $150, $100, and $100 respectively.

After careful assessment of the damaged property and assistance from the NC Department of Emergency Management, it was determined that 26 families occupied homes categorized as destroyed, 10 families occupied homes categorized as having major damage, and 25 families occupied homes with minor damage.

By the end of August, Bertie County received trailer campers donated from other counties to serve as temporary housing to families who no longer had a home. Most of these homes were placed on lots in the mobile home park on Morning Road where their homes existed before the tornado. The lease for eight lots, at $125 each, was paid for the month of September and the lease for nine lots, at $125 each, was paid for the months of October, November, and December to the property owners.

To date, total contributions to the relief fund amount to approximately $185,790. The current balance of the relief fund is approximately $44,700.

All of the contributions received for this fund were donated by individuals and organizations. The local government of Bertie County did not contribute any funds to this account.

The remainder of the funds are being used to continue covering the lease of the land where the trailer campers are located, the maintenance of the campers, and any emergency or unforeseen circumstance that arises as it relates to temporary housing for the tornado survivors.

“On behalf of the Bertie County Board of Commissioners, we would like to express our sincere appreciation to everyone who showed support to our citizens in their time of need. Your generous donations contributed to the immediate needs of these families and their temporary housing needs. It has been very rewarding to see the community come together to assist the citizens we serve. We wish you a safe and happy holiday season,” board members said.

Further donations can be made by sending checks, payable to the Bertie County Tornado Relief Fund, to Bertie County, PO Box 530, Windsor, NC 27983.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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