Nashville VOAD shares top 5 most important pieces of information for survivors of the 2023 tornado and storms
As tornado response and relief begins to transition to long-term recovery, volunteer nonprofit leaders help survivors focus on critical next steps.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Dec. 20, 2023) — With at least 861 homes and businesses damaged or destroyed in Davidson County by the tornado and storms on Dec. 9, members of the Nashville VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) want to ensure survivors have the most critical information needed to begin the long-term recovery process.
The Nashville VOAD, a coalition of nonprofit and community organizations, immediately activated its members following the storms to connect survivors with trusted partners offering recovery resources.
“Many of us are about to celebrate the holidays, but that doesn’t mean the disaster relief work stops,” said Tina Doniger, CEO of the Community Resource Center, and chair of the VOAD Steering Committee. “In fact, as a community, we are only just beginning the process of long-term recovery. Our member organizations will now begin providing case workers to walk alongside survivors and help them rebuild their lives. In disaster relief, we measure recovery in years, not days.”
Through online intake form available at www.nashvilleresponds.com, Nashville VOAD member organizations will offer case management to help survivors navigate the legal, financial, and logistical challenges of the long-term recovery process.
“The strength and resolve of our city is more apparent than ever at times of great need like this,” Nashville Mayor Freddie O’Connell said. “The Nashville VOAD is the embodiment of neighbors coming together to help each other. Our nonprofit community takes on the hard work of recovery strategy, coordination, and logistics so that survivors don’t have to go through the process alone. When you need assistance, we are here to help.”
Doniger said that as the tornado response work transitions from crisis response to long-term recovery, there are five things VOAD members most want survivors to know.
1. Register your needs at NashvilleResponds.com
If you were affected by the storms of Dec. 9 and live in Davidson County, the best thing you can do is go to NashvilleResponds.com to request assistance with your immediate and ongoing disaster needs, including food, shelter, home repair, debris cleanup, transportation, vehicle repair, replacement of home goods, mental health services, or assistance applying for assistance through FEMA. Nonprofit service providers in Nashville have come together to create this website as a single point of contact for providing disaster relief and recovery. These providers will work together in the coming months to support survivors who have needs that exceed their personal resources, including insurance and FEMA assistance. VOAD members work together to coordinate all available resources and support equitable recovery for all survivors. Please note that you can expect a response within four business days, as organizations gather the resources and teams needed to serve the community. The application is also available in Spanish, and accessibility options are available
2. You can get help applying for support, including FEMA assistance and unemployment benefits
It can be challenging to not only know what assistance you might qualify for, but also how to apply for or access that assistance.
Both individuals and businesses impacted by the tornadoes can get assistance directly from representatives with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, in applying for business loans with the Small Business Administration, as well as individual assistance.
- Individuals can go to the Madison Branch of the Nashville Public Library (610 Gallatin Pike S., Madison, TN 37115). They are open Monday - Saturday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
- Businesses can go to either of these locations in Hendersonville or Clarksville:
Clarksville-Montgomery County Regional Planning Commission
329 Main St. Clarksville, TN 37040
Hours: Monday - Saturday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed Sunday
Hendersonville Area Chamber of Commerce
100 Country Club Dr., Ste. 103
Hendersonville, TN 37075
Hours: Monday - Saturday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed Sunday
To read more about insurance and the FEMA claims process, visit https://sbpusa.org/start-here
Disaster Unemployment Assistance is now available for eligible individuals in Davidson, Dickson, Montgomery, and Sumner Counties. Workers impacted by recent tornadoes can apply at http://Jobs4TN.gov. More information can be found at https://loom.ly/dsH01t4
3. If you need physical supplies, such as hygiene items or food, there are locations set up to serve you
FiftyForward Madison Station (530 Madison Station Blvd, Madison, TN 37115) is serving as a disaster relief distribution site for essential cleaning and hygiene supplies to support those affected by the tornadoes. This location also offers Spanish interpretation and translation services.
Week of Dec. 17 hours: Mon. - Fri. 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m., Saturdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Dec. 26-28 hours: 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
January 2 - 5 hours: 9 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
For those needing immediate food resources, Second Harvest of Middle Tennessee has put the following locations into Disaster Response. Those affected by the storm can visit any of these locations as often as needed to keep their household stocked with food. Note that the holidays may affect hours on some days.
East Nashville Co-op
3115 Gallatin Pike
Mon. - Wed. 9 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Salvation Army Magness Potter
611 Stockell St.
Mon. - Thurs. 1 - 4 p.m.
Christian Cooperative Ministry
201 Madison St.
Monday & Wednesday 9 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.
Tuesday & Thursday 10 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.
Temple Baptist Church
3720 Kings Lane
Saturday 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
4. Rent your home? You have rights
Even if you rent your home, you have certain legal rights and protections in the aftermath of a disaster. Here are answers to a few common questions renters have when their home or community has been damaged by a natural disaster:
- Can I get out of my lease if my home is damaged? If your lease says you can or if you cannot live in part of your rented home because of damage, you can cancel the lease. If you cannot live in any part of your rental unit, you must give your landlord a written notice that you are canceling your lease. You should also ask in writing a refund of your security deposit and any pre-paid rent from your landlord.
- Can my landlord make me move immediately if I can live in my home? No. If your home is still in livable shape, then normal landlord-tenant laws apply. You cannot be evicted without reason. Your landlord can only evict you if the lease is expired or you break the lease. A landlord can only make you move by giving you a notice telling you to get out by a certain date and then filing a lawsuit after that date. Your landlord may not have to give you notice if you do not pay rent. If your lease is expired, your landlord may be able to force you to move by giving you a 30-day notice. If your landlord locks you out and refuses to give you a key, you can sue to get back in your place.
- Can my landlord make me move so they can make repairs? If you can still live in the home safely, you do not have to move until the lease is over. If you have a written lease, it may cover this problem. If not, your landlord can only make you move if your home is not safe to live in. If the landlord has to move you out to make repairs so that the home will be safe again, the landlord can break your lease. The landlord should give you 14 days to move out. The landlord should also give you back your security deposit and any prepaid rent.
- For additional legal questions about renters rights, you can call 1-844-HELP-4TN for immediate legal advice. To apply for legal assistance, please call Legal Aid Society at 1-800-238-1443 or visit www.las.org for more information.
5. Be prepared to spot and avoid construction fraud or scams
After a disaster is the prime time for unscrupulous contractors and solicitations to buy damaged homes. If you need to hire a professional contractor to make repairs or rebuild your home, here are tips to protect yourself and avoid scams:
- Call 1-800-342-4029 or visit http://verify.tn.gov/ to verify that the contractor is licensed and certified by the state.
- Verify the company’s permanent business address is in this area and not from out of state.
- Ask for references before hiring a contractor and check them.
- Ask for proof of the contractor’s general liability insurance. A reputable contractor should be able to show you an insurance certificate. Usually, the insurance carrier can have a copy of the certificate sent directly from their agency, however, this may not be realistic immediately after a disaster.
- Be wary of a contractor who wants full payment before the job begins or will only accept cash payments.
- Be wary of low bids. The lowest bid is not always the best. Do not feel any pressure from the contractor to make an immediate decision.
- In Tennessee, all jobs should be permitted and inspected. Check with the Metro Codes Department (or other local municipality or county) to verify the contractor submitted the proper permits and inspection requests.
For additional resources and information about the VOAD disaster response, visit https://www.nashvilleresponds.com.
To donate to the work of tornado relief in Davidson and surrounding counties, visit https://www.unitedwaygreaternashville.org/disaster-relief/
About Nashville VOAD
Nashville VOAD is a coalition of nonprofit, faith-based, and community organizations working together to prepare for potential disasters and coordinate support for disaster survivors. The work we do falls into three categories: 1. Building Local Resilience: We build capacity for disaster response through collective planning with member organizations and government partners, and by promoting the importance of disaster preparation with the public. 2. Leading the Volunteer Response: In the immediate aftermath of a disaster, the Nashville VOAD serves as a centralized point of contact to match nonprofit and volunteer support with the most pressing needs of survivors, including food, shelter, and supplies. 3. Staying through Recovery: Disaster recovery is a long-term process, and Nashville VOAD member organizations provide case workers who walk alongside survivors to help them navigate the legal, financial, and logistical challenges of rebuilding their lives.