The 2022 theme of preparedness is “A Lasting Legacy.”
The life you’ve built is worth protecting, preparing for disasters is the best way to create a lasting legacy for you and your family.
Here’s four steps Ready.gov recommends:
Build a Kit
An emergency kit should have everything you need to survive for several days. Keeping your kit stocked with necessities like food, water, and medical care can make the difference in the face of a disaster. Consider unique needs of your family. Include supplies that might be needed by pets, older adults, and those with disabilities in the event of the emergency. Don’t forget to include:
Non-perishable food and water that can last several days.
Disasters can happen anywhere, any time. That’s why it’s important you’re prepared. Do you have a plan for yourself, your pets, and your family? Consider the specific needs you might have in an emergency.
Consider any special needs your family might have.
Store important documents and information in a safe place. Items like passports, birth certificates, maps and electronics should be put in a flood-safe place like a high shelf or upper floor in resealable, water-tight plastic bags to help waterproof them. Store important documents like insurance policies digitally. Make sure you put important phone numbers somewhere besides just your cell phone.
Verify your home is fully insured for the disaster risks in your area.Talk to your insurance agent to ensure there are no gaps in your coverage, but also remember you should shop around to get the best rate. Ask about discounts that may be available and consider increasing the deductibles to reduce your premiums.
It’s never too early for your little ones to feel safe. Whether it’s knowing their phone number, guardian’s names, or address; or for teens to know how to call for help or their home’s evacuation routes — there’s steps you can take today. Every member of the family can prepare.
Ready Kids has tools and information to help before, during, and after disasters.
Inspiritus, also active in the Nashville VOAD, is looking for volunteers willing to travel to Kentucky to offer aid. Those interested in this opportunity can contact Sherry Buresh at 859-353-2243 or email her at email@example.com.
The Inspiritus Disaster Response team is currently on the ground in Eastern Kentucky running the Volunteer Reception Center and coordinating volunteer efforts.
When tornadoes ripped through Tennessee in the middle of the night on March 3, 2020, the devastated Nashville community scrambled to respond. Helpers came out in droves with chainsaws, supplies, food, and donations. Hands On Nashville alone saw more than 20,000 volunteers in the week after the tornado.
The city relies on me, as the CEO of Hands On Nashville, and my team to lead volunteer efforts after a disaster. It’s what we do.
Following the tornado, we immediately snapped into action to lead these efforts – our first disaster response effort since 2010. Our 15-person team worked around the clock to connect volunteers with needed resources. We were inundated with emails, phone calls, and walk-ins from folks wanting to or needing help. For a week, we had about 30 – 50 administrative volunteers helping us with all those things, often late into the evening. It was a challenging, heartfelt, and sometimes chaotic effort.
Since then, we’ve dedicated significant resources to disaster preparation, hiring a full-time Disaster Response Manager, and creating a comprehensive emergency response plan, which relies on Disaster Volunteer Leaders (DVL). If you are interested in supporting the city when the next disaster strikes, please sign up to be a DVL and take our free online training.
Recognizing that Hands On Nashville is stronger when we are connected with key players in the disaster response realm, I also advocated for the reformation of the Nashville VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster), reached out to key community members, and now chair the volunteer-led coalition. The group strengthens area-wide disaster coordination and preparedness by sharing programs, policies and information while engaging in joint planning, education, and training.
The VOAD’s first activations came after the Christmas Day bombing in 2020 and the South Nashville flood in 2021. Our mighty group of 41 nonprofits now stands ready to respond to whatever comes next. We also recognize that bringing in key neighborhood leaders, including those at religious institutions and neighborhood nonprofits, is critical to the success of disaster recovery.
Disaster response is exhaustive work, and our community has been stretched thin over the past two years. The sad truth is that it is difficult to convince people to dedicate resources to disaster preparation when there is not a disaster at hand, but disaster prep work is crucial to disaster response, and any support you can give will help us as we continue to do the work.
Hands on Nashville is so grateful to the amazing volunteers in this city and is up to the challenge of coordinating whatever crisis comes our way. We stand ready to provide services and to support our friends and neighbors when the next disaster hits — whether it is severe weather or, perish the thought, something like a shooting or bombing. We are #nashvillestrong, and we’ll get through it together.
Lori Shinton is President and CEO of Hands On Nashville and the Chair of Nashville VOAD. For a full list of Nashville VOAD member organizations, visit NashvilleResponds.com.
Earlier this week FEMA shared some updated messaging regarding applying for assistance, what types of assistance FEMA offers, deadlines to apply, and information on applying for Small Business Administration (SBA) Loans. For questions regarding this information, please visit fema.gov/disaster/4637.
These updates are accurate as of Feb. 17.
One Month Left to Apply for FEMA Assistance Since the devestating December 2021 storms, more than $4.4 million in federal funds has been provided to residents to assist in their recovery. Survivors who still need to apply for FEMA assistance have until March 15, 2022, to do so.
Funding is available to residents in Cheatham, Davidson, Dickson, Gibson, Henderson, Henry, Lake, Obion, Stewart, Sumner, Weakley, and Wilson counties.
Applying for FEMA assistance is free and easy. To start your claim, use any of the following options:
Go online to DisasterAssistance.gov.
Use the FEMA app, which can be easily downloaded to a smartphone.
Call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362. Specialists are available from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. local time, seven days a week. Multilingual services are available.
If you use a relay service, such as video relay service (VRS), captioned telephone service or others:
Update the “Current Phone” field using the relay service phone number
Add “Relay Service” to the Note box; provide FEMA with your number.
FEMA Housing Inspections FEMA Housing Inspectors will make an appointment before visiting your property to assess damage. The inspector may call and confirm the last four digits of your FEMA application number and then schedule an appointment seven to 10 days from the date your initial application is submitted.
Over the past month, FEMA Disaster Survivor Assistance teams have gone door-to-door in the 12 declared counties, interacting with 2,061 individuals to help them apply for assistance and to provide referrals to other resources.
NOTE: Apply Even If You Have Insurance If your personal property or primary residence was damaged when a line of tornadoes touched down in middle and west Tennessee in December, consider applying for FEMA assistance even if you have insurance. Don’t wait until after you receive your insurance settlement to apply. First, file your insurance claim, then apply for FEMA. FEMA cannot duplicate benefits, but once you are in the agency’s application system, you can submit documentation on your insurance settlement or claim denial when you receive it, and any uncovered damages will be considered.
What FEMA Individual Assistance Does and Does Not Cover
Under a recently signed Major Disaster Declaration, homeowners and renters in Cheatham, Davidson, Dickson, Gibson, Henderson, Henry, Lake, Obion, Stewart, Sumner, Weakley and Wilson counties whose primary residence and/or personal property was damaged or destroyed by the December
What is not eligible?
FEMA does not offer housing assistance for secondary homes; you may only receive FEMA assistance for disaster damage to your primary residence. Additionally, FEMA does not provide assistance to small businesses. Our partner, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), offers low interest disaster loans for that. Business owners, renters and homeowners may obtain information and loan applications by calling the SBA Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 (If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability, please dial 7-1-1 to access telecommunication relay services), or by emailing DisasterCustomerService@sba.gov. Disaster loan applications can also be downloaded at sba.gov/disaster.
What FEMA may cover
Tornado survivors in middle and west Tennessee are eligible to apply for grants that cover temporary housing, repairs and other uninsured or underinsured losses. However, those who still have questions can speak with a FEMA representative at 800-621-3362 to learn how the agency can assist with their disaster recovery. Here is an abbreviated list of assistance available:
Temporary Housing Assistance: Funds for temporary housing, such as rental assistance or reimbursement for hotel costs, while you are unable to live in your home due to extreme tornado damage.
Lodging Expenses Reimbursement: Reimbursement of hotel expenses for homeowners or renters for short periods of time because they can’t access their disaster-damaged primary residence, or a utility outage makes the home unlivable.
Home Repair or Replacement: FEMA may assist with the replacement of, or repairs to, a disaster-damaged primary residence in certain circumstances. This assistance is not intended to restore your home to its pre-disaster condition. Instead, grants cover uninsured essentials like doors, windows, a roof, critical utilities, toilets and other necessities. The homeowner may apply for an SBA disaster loan to help with additional repairs beyond what FEMA may provide. FEMA may also consider funding for hazard mitigation measures, such as roof, furnace, water heater, or main electrical panel mitigation, to help reduce the amount of damage to the home in future disasters, if those items
Other needs: Financial assistance is available for necessary expenses and serious needs directly caused by the disaster, including:
Medical and dental expenses
Funeral and burial expenses
Damage to essential household items; tools required for your job; necessary educational materials (computers, schoolbooks, supplies)
Fuel for the primary heat source (heating oil, gas)
Clean-up items (wet/dry vacuum, dehumidifier)
Damage to an essential vehicle
Moving and storage expenses caused by the disaster. This is moving and storage of essential household goods to prevent further damage, such as ongoing repairs, and returning property to the applicant’s primary residence.
Other necessary expenses or serious needs as determined by FEMA
Everyone Has the Right to Appeal a FEMA Determination If you receive a determination letter advising you are ineligible for assistance or that your application is incomplete, do not be frustrated or discouraged. Instead, just read the entire letter to find out what’s needed for FEMA to continue processing your application. Many times, it’s a simple fix. You have 60 days from the date on your FEMA decision letter to submit a written appeal and supporting documentation.
Disasters often bring communities together but con artists, identity thieves and other criminals may target survivors working to rebuild after last December’s severe weather and tornadoes. The most common types of post-disaster fraud include phony housing inspectors, fraudulent building contractors, bogus pleas for disaster donations, fake offers of municipal or federal aid and charging for free services.
If you need help day or night, call the local police and the FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721.
Major Disaster Declaration Amended to Include FEMA Public Assistance
Thirteen Tennessee counties are now eligible to receive FEMA Public Assistance reimbursement funds to help communities repair and replace damaged infrastructure, public buildings and some facilities operated by private nonprofits, such as houses of worship. The PA declared counties are Cheatham, Davidson, Decatur, Dickson, Dyer, Gibson, Henderson, Henry, Lake, Obion, Stewart, Sumner, and Weakley.
Small Business Administration (SBA) Loans
What is a SBA loan? The SBA offers disaster assistance in the form of low interest loans to businesses, nonprofit organizations, homeowners, and renters located in regions affected by declared disasters. SBA also provides eligible small businesses and nonprofit organizations with working capital to help overcome the economic injury of a declared disaster.
There is no cost to apply for a SBA disaster loan, or to accept the loan if approved. However, if FEMA refers you to SBA, you must apply before you can be considered for certain kinds of FEMA grant money. If you are not approved for a loan, FEMA may be able to provide grants to cover disaster related expenses for personal property, vehicle repair or replacement and/or moving and storage feed.
Homeowners may be eligible for a disaster loan up to $200,000 for primary residence structural repairs or rebuilding. SBA may also be able to help homeowners and renters with up to $40,000 to replace important personal property, including automobiles damaged or destroyed in the disaster.
Businesses and nonprofit organizations may be eligible to borrow up to $2 million for repair costs and disaster related working capital needs.
On December 10-11, a line of severe storms and tornadoes swept across the country and resulted in fatalities, damaged structures and residences in more than six states. This page offers resources for those recovering and will be updated regularly.
To sign up as a Disaster Volunteer Leader with Hands On Nashville, click here.
Give In times of disaster, financial donations are the best way to aid those in need. Cash can be used immediately in response to a crisis, and allows disaster relief organizations to purchase exactly what is needed, when it’s needed. Cash gives relief organizations the means to procure supplies near the affected area, which cuts down on transportation time and cost. Monetary contributions also support local economies and ensure that businesses can operate when relief supplies diminish.
American Red Cross The American Red Cross continues to serve those affected by the recent severe weather. Emergency assistance is available to individuals whose homes were destroyed or majorly impacted. For more information, please contact the American Red Cross by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
Crisis Cleanup A Crisis Cleanup service is in place for Tennesseans who need help with debris removal and home cleanup from the recent severe weather. All services are free, but service is not guaranteed due to the expected overwhelming need. Individuals needing assistance should call the hotline at 1-800-451-1954.
Tennessee Statewide Crisis Phone Line Call 1-855-CRISIS-1 (1-855-274-7471) to speak with a caring, trained mental health professional, 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week, if you are experiencing a mental health emergency. You can also text TN to 741741.
Rx Open Rx Open provides information on the operating status of healthcare facilities in areas impacted by a disaster. Visit their website at rxopen.org.
By Sophia Bobrowsky, AmeriCorps Volunteer Project Leader with Hands On Nashville
Once recovery began following the March 2021 flooding, Hands On Nashville and our disaster partners set a goal — rebuilding 30 homes within a year of the flood. On Nov. 5, we celebrated another milestone toward that goal by completing our latest home rebuild, just in time for the holidays!
Walking up to the Inspiritus construction site for the last time, I was greeted by Robert Zavala, the contractor who has overseen the home construction for the past three months. He’s contracted through Inspiritus, a nonprofit that offers disaster relief and long-term recovery solutions to people in need.
I stood in the kitchen of the newly remodeled home in awe as NCCC members steadily cleaned around me. A dozen or so members were busy wiping dust from the trim, and putting the final screws in kitchen cabinets.
Robert chuckled at my excitement, and was quick to credit all the volunteers for their hard work.
“NCCC is absolutely wonderful, I love them to death,” Robert said. “They come with a big crew and get everything knocked out very fast. It’s nice to have a crew you can train, and that works together for a longer period of time.”
Robert explained NCCC didn’t come with formal training, but like volunteers who sign up for Inspiritus projects, they’re excited to learn, and always give 100 percent. Together, volunteer teams rebuilt this home from the ground up — the walls were gutted, the flooring torn out, and the HVAC system had to be completely cleaned and repaired.
Of the projects, the flooring took the longest, Robert said. From ripping up the flooring to repairing the subfloor and then laying new tile — it’s a tedious process that takes time to be done right.
Robert is the only Inspiritus construction manager in Tennessee, and he assists in matching volunteers with projects that are safe , sources and purchases materials for home repairs, and trains the volunteers completing the work.
Following my talk with Robert, I continued to explore the house and see what my fellow AmeriCorps members were working on. I spoke with Marisa Switzman, a Team Lead with Americorps NCCC.
NCCC is different than the traditional Americorps program I am currently participating in, as this cohort travels the country for 10 months, spending no more than a few weeks in each city they visit. NCCC members meet community needs in the areas of energy conservation, infrastructure improvement, natural and other disaster services, and urban and rural development.
Marisa said she said she really enjoys the hands-on experience of NCCC, and learning so many different life and teambuilding skills.
“It’s been super rewarding to give back to the community and to specific people like this homeowner,” Marisa said. “That’s why we joined NCCC because it’s all about that:, giving back. The most challenging part is making mistakes — but that’s part of the learning process, and Robert has shown us mistakes are really easy to fix.”
Zach King, also an NCCC member, was serving alongside Marisa, and agreed about the construction skills. This is the first construction project he’s attempted during his term, and said so far each site has presented a different set of challenges.
“In terms of the whole year — Mammoth Cave was the most physically demanding, but NOLA was emotionally demanding,” Zach said.
His cohort spent the first month of their term rebuilding hiking trails at Mammoth Cave, Ky., and the following few weeks offering relief to survivors of Hurricane Ida in New Orleans. For the next few weeks Zach and his team will stay in Davidson County continuing to support disaster relief efforts in South Nashville.
“So far my term has been super good — in NOLA everyone was super thankful, and the people were very vocal about that. In Mammoth [Cave] our work was lasting as the trails will be used by hikers for a while. However, here it’s massive for this homeowner to have a house to get into by Thanksgiving,” Zach said. “That’s incredible, and a really cool goal to have someone in their house by the holidays.”
We are extremely gratefulto VOAD and CFMT for providing the funding to HON and our partnering organizations to assist in flood-relief efforts. To read more about their impact, click here.
NCCC is a federally-funded program that Hands On Nashville applied for and was granted following the March flooding. For more information about NCCC, click here. To volunteer for a disaster relief project, click here.
1. Connect with survivors who may still need support: Small groups of volunteers will canvass flood-affected neighborhoods on Nov. 12. We especially need Spanish speakers to ensure we can connect with as many families as possible!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
TheHumphreys County Sheriff’s Officeposted 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.
At this time volunteer efforts are being organized by theWaverly 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.
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.
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.