published Friday, April 29th, 2011

Bradley County: 9 killed

CLEVELAND, Tenn.

Kathy Earls grabbed empty boxes — some damp from rainwater — and began packing them with cleaning products, including counter sprays and bleach.

“We’re trying to salvage what we can like everyone else,” she said. “We don’t know what we’re going to do. I don’t have a clue what we’re going to do.”

The family owned business, A-1 Closeouts at 2256 Spring Place Road, sits in a strip mall, or what used to be one. The storms shredded the end of the building where A-1 Closeouts has operated for the past year.

Standing inside the store, overcast skies can be seen through a ceiling hole draped and decorated with insulation, ceiling tiles and warped metal.

Her landlord told her it would take four to five months to reconstruct the business, she said.

“It is a shock. Nothing you can do. You just have to pick up, salvage what you can, day to day,” she said.

Family members, including Earls’ mother, aunt and friends, pitch in with the clean-up efforts.

Earl closed early on Wednesday as the storms approached.

“In some respects, we’re lucky,” she said. “We were all closed last night when it happened.”

Next door, Mark Howard hauled martial arts tools, trophies and other items from his flattened karate studio, Academy of Shotokan Karate. He began cleaning up late Wednesday night after the storms passed through. His business is not insured, so he worked to save the items inside.

“We’ve been here all night,” he said, standing near the collapsed structure. “We’ll find a place to store this and search for a place to train. We don’t know how to quit.”

— By Staff Writer Beth Burger

about Randall Higgins...

Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...

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