Category Archives: Disaster Relief

Volunteers assist in repairing a flood damaged home in Nashville.

Flood survivors need volunteers like you to help on their path to recovery

HOW YOU CAN HELP

1. Connect with survivors who may still need support: Small groups of volunteers will canvass flood-affected neighborhoods on Oct. 24. We especially need Spanish speakers to ensure we can connect with as many families as possible! Can’t make it on Oct. 24?
Join us for another canvassing project Nov. 12, 15 or 16!

2. Rebuild homes with Inspiritus: Volunteers will help residents rebuild homes impacted by the flood. Activities range from painting, flooding, installing drywall and insulation. Training is provided with on-site leadership.

3. Use your skills or form a group to help with the rebuilding effort: As recovery and rebuilding continues we need skilled construction volunteers as well as groups of volunteers who can help with demolition, construction, and community outreach.





It’s National Preparedness Month. Do you have a plan?

As we’ve learned from the March 2020 tornado, COVID-19 pandemic, March 2021 flooding, and hurricane warning earlier this month — disasters can strike unexpectedly.

There’s no better time than the present to prepare to protect, and keep you and your family safe during a disaster.

September is National Preparedness Month (NPM), an observance each September to raise awareness about the importance of preparing for disasters and emergencies that could happen at any time. This year the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is using its public service campaign, Ready, to educate and empower the American people to prepare for, respond to and mitigate emergencies, including natural and man-made disasters. The goal of the campaign is to promote preparedness through public involvement.

This year, Ready is promoting four key ways to be prepared:

(1)  Stay informed about the different types of emergencies that could occur and their appropriate responses

(2)  make a family emergency plan and

(3)  build an emergency supply kit, and

(4)  get involved in your community by taking action to prepare for emergencies.

There’s some easy, low cost ways to prepare for a disaster:

Start today by signing up for alerts, safe-guarding important documents, and taking other low cost and no cost preparedness actions to lessen the impact of disasters and emergencies for you and your family.

It’s also important to teach your kids about preparing for emergencies and what to do in case you are separated. Reassure them by providing information about how they can get involved.

There’s also many ways you can get involved before an emergency or a disaster occurs, by joining a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program and getting trained on basic disaster response skills, taking FEMA disaster response classes such as You Are the Help Until Help Arrives, donating money to a reputable organization of your choice through the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (NVOAD), and volunteer to respond to disasters and help your fellow Americans.

For a full list of how you can get involved, click here.

Don’t forget to share your preparedness prep with us! We would love if you shared your kits, how you’re making a plan, or any other helpful information others should know with us by tagging us on social media @HONashville, and using the Ready hashtags, #BeReady and #PrepareToProtect!

How to help flooding survivors in Humphreys County

With a record-breaking flood devastating parts of Middle Tennessee, we know it’s our instinct to rush in to help. BUT, the situation in Humphreys County remains dangerous, and all volunteers are being asked to join a recovery group or organization for detailed instructions on how to be the most helpful. Please see the resource list below on how you can help.

Donation Information:

NOTE: All donations must be NEW. No used items are being accepted at this time!

The Community Resource Center is collecting most-needed items, recruiting volunteers, accepting items from their Amazon wish list, and collecting monetary donations. Visit their website at crcnashville.org.

For the CRC’s Waverly Flood Support Drop Off locations, click here.

Mother to Mother, Inc. has posted a list of donations they’re collecting. Items range from diapers to formula to towels and baby hygiene products. Click here for the full list and where to donate.

The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee has activated its Tennessee Emergency Response Fund. Grants from these funds will be made available to nonprofits supporting relief and restoration in areas of Middle Tennessee affected by the severe storms and floods.

United Way of Humphreys County has also established a relief fund. Proceeds will help meet immediate and long term needs of residents affected by the flooding. One hundred percent of all donations will be used to help the flooding survivors.

The Humphreys County Sheriff’s Office posted about collecting items for those displaced at the National Guard Armory, located at 1421 US-70, Waverly, TN 37185. Items can also be donated to Compassion Church at their Student Building, 1452 Clydeton Road, Waverly, TN 37185.
NOTE: These items should be new or in like-new condition.

The American Red Cross is assisting with four shelters and has set up a disaster helpline at 1-800-985-5990. The organization has an online registry where survivors can register and send messages about their well-being. 

The Dickson Fire Department reported water rescues Saturday morning after about 10 inches of rain caused flash flooding. [Photo by the Dickson Fire Department]

Volunteer Information:

At this time volunteer efforts are being organized by the Waverly Department of Public Safety – Police & Fire. Those interested in helping with clean up or recovery are asked to call (931) 888-8011 or (931) 888-8012. Volunteers will be meeting at the staging area at the Dollar Tree, 515 W. Main St, Waverly, TN 37185.

The Community Resource Center has also begun compiling hygiene and relief kits to be distributed to those affected, and also need support unboxing and preparing donations to be transported to Humphreys County. Click the button below to sign up.

Compassion Church of Waverly is also utilizing volunteers. Those interested can text “flood” to (615)375-8333.

Flood Survivor Information:

If you have been impacted and need clean-up assistance please call the crisis clean up line at 615-338-7404. The phone will be answered from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. This number is for all counties affected by the flooding.

The Central Labor Council of Nashville and Middle Tennessee is offering disaster relief to union members for those affected by the flooding on August 21.

The following are flooding shelters for those displaced. For more information, visit the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.

  • Waverly Church of Christ, 438 West Main St., Waverly, TN 
  • YMCA of Dickson County, 225 Henslee Dr, Dickson TN 37055 
  • First Baptist Church, 300 E. Main St. Waverly TN 37185 
  • Fairfield Church of Christ, 1860 TN-100, Centerville, TN 37033 

Volunteers clean up flood-damaged homes as long-term recovery efforts continue

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Volunteers moved furniture and debris at three houses in South Nashville on Saturday, May 1, continuing cleanup efforts begun weeks ago after thunderstorms and devastating flooding. More than 7 inches of rain fell March 27-28, resulting in flash floods that led to multiple deaths, devastated neighborhoods, and hundreds of displaced residents.

“Nashvillians have shown tremendous resiliency and support for one another over the past year,” said Mayor John Cooper. “The residents whose lives were upended by recent flooding are looking at a long road to recovery. But with community support, survivors will get the help they need to recover and rebuild.”

Residents from nearly 500 houses have reported the need for assistance with demolishing damaged walls and floors, removing debris, and moving furniture. Volunteers recruited by Hands On Nashville (HON) have spent more than 3,200 hours canvassing, cleaning up debris, mucking and gutting houses, and distributing food and supplies.

“We are truly grateful to the volunteers and organizations helping these survivors recover,” said HON President & CEO Lori Shinton, who chairs the Nashville VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster). “But the reality is a lot of people who need help haven’t gotten it yet. So sustained community involvement is absolutely critical.”

HON and other members of Nashville VOAD — a coalition of more than 50 nonprofits, government departments, and community organizations that work together to provide survivor support in the aftermath of disaster — are collaborating to meet the needs of survivors through supply distribution, cleanup work, case management, and more. Saturday’s volunteer cleanup event was held in collaboration with disaster-relief organizations and Nashville VOAD members including Inspiritus, Team Rubicon, Rebuilding Together Nashville and Westminster Home Connection. The Community Resource Center and HON supplied PPE, tools and other equipment for the projects.

“The flood in South Nashville has impacted the Hispanic community in ways that most people don’t see or fully understand,” said Diane Janbakhsh, founder and CEO of the Hispanic Family Foundation. “The families that were affected don’t have access to the resources necessary to rebuild and move on, and subsequently fall through the cracks when it comes to disaster recovery.”

Janbakhsh chairs the Long-Term Recovery Group (LTRG) for the flood, and said she aims to foster a better understanding of the needs of immigrant communities within the group.

“The trust that the Hispanic community has in the Hispanic Family Foundation and our commitment to them creates a unique opportunity to serve them more effectively and opens the door to trust in LTRG’s mission to help and serve all families affected by disasters regardless of race, sex, language, or religion,” Janbakhsh said.

Continue reading Volunteers clean up flood-damaged homes as long-term recovery efforts continue

Thank you for loving Nashville.

Last Saturday we said there was a need and volunteers showed up. Because of you, many residents in South Nashville are a step closer to recovering from recent flooding that devastated so many neighborhoods. Thank you!

On April 3, 350 volunteers cleaned up at around 90 houses. They hauled supplies with their pickup trucks and helped other volunteers find parking and get checked in. They translated languages to help keep the communication flowing. They also handed out more than 400 boxes of food, 420 flood buckets, and 100 hygiene kits to families in need.

And thank you to the many partners that helped put the day of service together: the Nashville Office of Emergency Management, American Red Cross, Conexión Américas, WeGo, Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee, Community Resource Center, Nashville Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, Metro Parks and Recreation, Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, and the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands.

There’s still LOTS more work to be done in South Nashville, and we need your help. Find a project here:

Nashville VOAD Members Partnering for Large Community Cleanup from Weekend Flooding Saturday, April 3

NASHVILLE, TN – April 2, 2021 – Nashville Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) is a collaboration of nonprofit, faith-based and community organizations from across the city that step in to help Davidson County recover when disaster strikes.

In response to the near record flooding from this past weekend, Nashville VOAD members will be working together in South Nashville to help clean up storm damage and provide much needed resources and supplies to the community between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday, April 3rd. More than 7 inches of rain fell between March 27-28, causing flash flooding that resulted in multiple deaths, devastated neighborhoods, and displaced residents – the second worst flood event in Nashville history.

With plans to canvas and assist over 800 flood-damaged homes on Saturday, the Nashville VOAD wants to bring awareness, and help, to those affected.

“We know that this year has been filled with disaster after disaster to our community, but Nashville has always stood up to help our neighbors. It is now time to stand up for the people of South Nashville and help restore their hope, their lives and their homes. We are calling on all of our neighbors here in Nashville to join us to make sure that happens,” states Lori Shinton, Chair of Nashville VOAD and CEO of Hands On Nashville.

Volunteer spots are still available for the event, and anyone can sign up at HON.org.

Several Nashville VOAD members will be participating in the event on Saturday:

Hands On Nashville will coordinate hundreds of volunteers who will spread out into the community to canvass neighborhoods to determine needs, clean up debris, and conduct drywall demolition in affected homes.

Community Resource Center (CRC) is providing all the materials for the community clean up event.  From muck buckets to hygiene kits and tools for cleanout, the CRC has been the leader on the front lines providing materials in the Nashville area for disaster clean up and relief support.

American Red Cross will provide snacks and drinks for the volunteers, as well as clean-up kits for survivors.

The Salvation Army will provide a hot lunch for survivors.

Second Harvest of Middle Tennessee will provide 500 food boxes for survivors.

Legal Aid Society of Middle TN and the Cumberlands will be providing legal information for canvassing around hiring contractors, renters’ rights, recovering important documents and filing insurance claims. 

Catholic Charities and Conexión Américas will be providing Spanish translators to accompany volunteers into the community as they work with residents.

Individuals needing assistance recovering from the storm can go to https://nashvilleresponds.com/assistance/ and fill out the form. For individuals requiring help to request assistance or those who do not have access to a computer, a Crisis Line has been activated and language translation services are available. Calls can be made 24 hours a day at 615-244-7444. A case worker will follow-up within 24 to 48 hours of your call or form submission.

Flood survivors requiring assistance with storm drain clearing, street side debris removal, or other city-related services can call 311 or go to https://hub.nashville.gov. Those impacted also can report damage with the Office of Emergency Management at  https://maps.nashville.gov/NERVE/

To find additional information on survivor resources, volunteer opportunities, and a list of items needed or to make a gift to The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee’s  Metro Nashville Disaster Response Fund to support the organizations assisting survivors, visit https://nashvilleresponds.com/flood-resources/.

About Nashville VOAD

The purpose of the Nashville VOAD is to strengthen area-wide disaster coordination and preparedness by sharing programs, policies, information, and engaging in joint planning, education, and training. During times of active disaster, it provides a single point of coordination for all organizations seeking to assist survivors in our community so that needs are met in the fastest most efficient manner possible.

Volunteers needed to respond to recent flash flooding

More than 7 inches of rain fell between March 27-28, driving flash flooding in many areas across Middle Tennessee. The floods resulted in several deaths as well as devastation of homes and businesses. Hands On Nashville is working with with Nashville’s Office of Emergency Management to safely deploy volunteers to areas in need of help. Volunteer opportunities will be posted to the link below with the hashtag #NashvilleFlooding. We anticipate more projects will be posted over the coming the days and weeks. Follow us on social media or subscribe to our newsletter for the latest updates!

We are so grateful for the outpouring of support and generosity this community shows in times of need. 

Resources for survivors

11,689 vaccines in arms, all because of volunteers like you!

WOW. That’s about all we can say about the mass vaccination event on March 20. Hundreds of volunteers — including many medical professionals — helped vaccinate thousands at Nissan Stadium, Lee Chapel AME, and Music City Center on Saturday. It was an emotional day, but many volunteers said they would do it again in a heartbeat. In total, 11,689 people were vaccinated with the help of volunteers. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Photographs by Madison Thorn, HON volunteer 

In it for the long haul: The Davidson County Long-Term Recovery Group focuses on getting resources to survivors

Several members of the Davidson County Long-Term Recovery Group (LTRG) — of which Hands On Nashville is a part — reflect on the recovery efforts since the March 2020 tornadoes that devastated many of Nashville’s iconic neighborhoods.

In the video above, several representatives of the LTRG share their stories and updates on how recovery is going: Kathy Floyd-Buggs, Director of Neighborhoods for the Nashville Mayor’s Office; Keith Branson, Executive Director of Westminster Home Connection; Tina Doniger, Executive Director of Community Resource Center; Amy Fair, Vice President of Donor Services at The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee; Alisha Smith Haddock, Community-Based Services Director at Catholic Charities of Tennessee, Eileen Lowery, Director of Tornado Recovery Connection at Tn Conference of UMCOR; and Lori Shinton, Executive Director of Hands On Nashville.

Finding and serving tornado survivors — in the midst of a worldwide pandemic and economic crisis, no less — remains the laser-like focus of the LTRG.

The LTRG is a volunteer collaboration of multiple organizations, including but not limited to nonprofit agencies, community civic and service groups, faith-based, and educational groups that meet and work together to address the long-term needs of Metro Nashville residents who have been affected by disaster.

As detailed in its bylaws, the LTRG’s mission is to provide coordinated management of the long-term recovery response to individuals in Nashville/Davidson County affected by disaster.

The LTRG offers additional long-term assistance to individuals affected by the disaster who do not have adequate personal resources, and stewards volunteer, material and financial resources.

Its goal is to provide cost-effective and coordinated delivery of services so that survivors receive unduplicated assistance in a timely, efficient and equitable manner.

With more than 80 individuals representing 30 organizations participating on regularly scheduled calls, the group has, to date:

• Identified the areas of greatest need

• Identified organizations capable of addressing those needs

• Worked to ensure it is supporting each organization’s services while providing support to survivors from all of the impacted areas in Nashville

Learn more at www.nashvillerelief.com.

‘You always have something you can do,’ says volunteer who logged hundreds of hours of tornado relief activities

When the tornadoes hit, Melissa Alexander wasted no time finding a volunteer project to help survivors.

That’s who Melissa is, though — she goes above and beyond for people, and doesn’t seem to think twice about it. That makes her among the most prolific tornado-response volunteers in HON.org’s database, having registered for dozens of projects and logged hundreds of volunteer hours.

“After the tornado hit, I knew I couldn’t just stay home,” she says. “I’m from Texas, and that’s just not what you do there. After a disaster, if someone needs your help, you just go.”

Melissa Alexander, left, spent more than 300 hours volunteering in response to the 2020 tornadoes.

Melissa lives in Hermitage, about a block away from the path of destruction that spanned more than 60 miles overnight on March 2, 2020. She was without power for four days, and, looking back, is grateful to have had the opportunity to get out of the house and be of service to others.

She began volunteering at the Hermitage Community Center, sorting donations of apples, oranges, and other food and essentials. After about a week, when the center was running smoothly, she began looking for other ways to help. She had already attended volunteer leadership training at the Hands On Nashville headquarters. A liaison from Mayor John Cooper’s office determined she would be a great fit to begin supporting case management by alerting survivors to the resources that were available.

Melissa began canvassing the Hermitage area daily, going door to door to ask residents a series of questions:

“Are you working with a good contractor? Are they licensed?”

“Do you have your tetanus shot?”

“Do you know how to get to the community center?”

“Do you have your water and power turned on?”

It was more or less what she had been trained for, Melissa says, and she enjoyed the spark of hope residents would show when she was able to share information on a resource they were previously unaware of.

“‘They would ask, ‘Who are you with?’” and I would say, ‘Oh, I’m just a volunteer with Hands On Nashville, going around to make sure you’re aware of all of the services available in the community after a tornado.’ They loved it,” she says. “They were so grateful that somebody was just coming around and checking in on them.”

Melissa volunteered for weeks this way, reporting each morning to the city’s liaison, receiving her neighborhood assignments, then heading out with her bags of apples and oranges to distribute throughout the community. She estimates she spent more than 300 hours volunteering over the course of three months.

One day in particular stands out to Melissa — the day she was reassigned to North Nashville, on March 27. Rain was moving into the area, and the city needed additional help identifying houses that needed tarps.

“I went to Project Connect Nashville and started volunteering over there, four days a week, for about three months,” she says. “I’m still pretty committed to Project Connect. They do a lot for that North Nashville community.”

Once in North Nashville, Melissa says she found strength in the community to keep coming back day after day. The work was tiring, but, without fail, each morning when she arrived, there would be 30 people waiting outside Project Connect’s doors for a hot meal.

“When you see that many people waiting to get a hot meal, you can’t just say no,” Melissa says. “And the people were so eager for help. They wanted to know what resources were available or how to do something.”

Melissa Alexander and Mary.
Melissa (left) with Mary.

And that’s how Melissa met Mary.

“She’s the lady who made me cry on my first day,” Melissa says. “A neighbor had called to bring her meals, and I was the first one to have checked up on her since the storm. That day she was upset because her FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) request was denied, and she just bawled.”

Melissa bonded with Mary, who is 83 years old, right away. She worked to get Mary’s phone back in service, reinstall her security light, and create some raised garden beds for her. They still talk or text regularly.

“I even helped her organize the inside of her house, and we shredded papers for three days,” Melissa says. “She kept everything. She had checkbooks from the ’80s. So I helped her shred papers, and it was so fun. Older people have the best stories.”

Throughout the COVID-19 lockdowns, Melissa continued to work with Project Connect. She’s an avid mask-wearer, and says she practiced good hygiene long before the pandemic, crediting her work as a behavioral analyst who often worked with clients with auto-immune disorders. She says the Red Cross and Project Connect were thorough with their protocols, and that she never felt unsafe while volunteering.

Call the Tornado Recovery Connection at 615-270-9255 to get help.

Melissa’s background has proved invaluable throughout her time volunteering. Being from Texas, she was familiar with disaster response and FEMA, and by working with lower-income families she’s also familiar with food-assistance and housing programs. As Project Connect transitioned their services to working mainly from the resource center, Melissa jokes that she became known as the “resource guru.” To this day she has about 60 bookmarks — in multiple languages — stored in her phone to offer to people for help.

“You always have a skill,” she says, “and you always have something you can do that goes toward something that someone else needs.”

And while the recovery process has spanned the past year, Melissa knows there’s still more recovery and healing that needs to happen.

“There’s so many houses still not touched,” she says. “You can drive through Hermitage now and see the changes. But in North, there’s still boards on the windows, tarps on the roofs. There’s still so much work to be done.”

Tornado survivors can get access to a variety of resources and support through the Tornado Recovery Connection. If you know any tornado survivors, please make sure they know to call TRC at 615-270-9255.