Tag Archives: nashville voad

Lori Shinton, the CEO of Hands On Nashville and Board Chair with Nashville VOAD, talks with a volunteer following the March 2020 Tornado.

A word from our CEO: How Nashville’s volunteer group is prepared to support city through any disaster 

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.   

Lori Shinton, CEO of Hands On Nashville and Board Chair of Nashville VOAD.

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 

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. 

The latest FEMA information regarding the Dec. 2021 storms

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.

Latest news:

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.

For nonprofits: FEMA continues to support state and local leaders to provide Public Assistance funding for storm-related emergency response and the restoration of infrastructure, damaged public facilities and certain private nonprofits, like houses of worship. To learn more, go to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency “Active Disasters” page, and click on FEMA-4637.

Read the full FEMA press release here.

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:

  • Child-care expenses
  • 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.

Key messages:

Tennessee Tornado Survivors: Avoid Contractor Fraud

  • 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.


Read the full press release by FEMA here.

For more information on Tennessee’s disaster recovery, visit www.tn.gov/tema.html and www.fema.gov/disaster/4637. You may also follow FEMA on www.facebook.com/fema and Twitter @FEMARegion4.

How to Help December Tornado Survivors

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.

Volunteer
Volunteers can connect with Tennessee Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster at www.tnvoad.org/volunteer, or the Kentucky Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster at voadkentucky.wpengine.com/volunteer.

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.

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.

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