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Six months after taking hit from tornado, Covington homeless shelter still struggling to recover

The Rainbow Community Shelter has not been able to repair significant damage to one of its buildings, hurting its ability to help those in need.

COVINGTON, Ga. — A homeless shelter in Newton County still being forced to turn families away nearly six months after a strong storm ripped apart the men's quarters of the facility.

The director of Covington's Rainbow Community Shelter, Rev. Clara Lett, says they're having to turn away women and children every day.

"This is the building that was hit by the storm as you can see the damage," she told 11Alive's Maura Sirianni on a visit to the damaged shelter.

Lett said the shelter serves several counties, a difficult task made all the harder after an EF-1 tornado last October struck its men's quarters. Lett said there were 20 men inside the building eating dinner and watching TV when the storm rolled through. 

  • The Rainbow Community Shelter is in need of volunteers, call 770-787-8519 if you want to help

More than six months later, a tarp still covers the roof of the damaged building.

"You can see the tarp that's on top of the building, it's been there so long that we got gaping holes in it now, and it's raining inside this building," Lett said. "I'm afraid there may be mold."

Lett said the Covington Housing Authority, which helps fund the shelter, told her it will be at least another year before they're able to receive help. In the meantime, they're also having to use a makeshift kitchen and dining area.

Lett said the facility can't operate at full capacity until the damage is repaired.

"We're having to turn away women and children daily almost, because we have no availability for them," she said.

The director of the Covington Housing Authority, Shamica Tucker, is optimistic that they can start construction on the shelter this summer. Due to COVID, materials are taking longer to order.

Lett said she just wants to go back to helping as many people as possible.

"Maybe sooner or later, maybe it will be before 2022 that we will have a place for them to go," she said.

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