Flood relief volunteers

These volunteers helped set up supplies for flood survivors at the Bellevue Community Center. As the week unfolds, more and more volunteer opportunities are expected to become available.

City officials, nonprofit groups and volunteers are working to organize volunteer efforts after Saturday’s flooding in Nashville.

“It’s been a lot of gathering up and trying to figure out, OK, what’s the plan, working with all the different organizations that are all gathered together and figuring out how to divide and conquer,” said Lindsey Turner, director of communications with Hands on Nashville on conversations with the city and Tennessee Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters.

“The city is still in response mode in terms of making sure everybody who needs food, shelter and water get to safety,” she said.

But opportunities to help for volunteers are slowly materializing as waters recede and damage is understood more fully, thereby informing response need of all involved.

“Right now we’re looking at a handful of larger projects starting later in the week in terms of volunteers getting out and helping muck out homes and things like that,” Turner said. “We’re hoping to have that information ready to share soon.

“We expect those projects like that, large scale and small scale, those will start to pick up as the system starts to be laid into place for survivors who need that kind of help to submit their needs, make projects and get them paired with volunteers.”

Specifically, a 100-person large-scale cleanup “muck and gut” project is tentatively scheduled for Thursday in Antioch.

And that’s not to say small-scale efforts haven’t popped up early, from Community Resource Center Nashville volunteers’ continuous work to prepare supply lines for survivors to hospitality work by a few dozen HON volunteers in Antioch and Bellevue over the weekend.

Volunteer opportunities for CRC, dependent on such service, can be pursued through HON.

Donation needs and an Amazon wish list can be found at crcnashville.org. Items can also be dropped off at CRC’s office at 218 Omohundro Place. Monetary donations can be made via Venmo at @crcnashville.

HON also desperately needs volunteer leaders with flexible schedules. Onboarding training is provided for such a position.

“It’s things like helping orient other volunteers, helping manage those projects, organizing supplies,” Turner said.

For more information on opportunities visit hon.org/disaster_projects. The site is continuously updated alongside the organization’s social media presence with new projects as they are released.

Like HON and CRC, the American Red Cross is in a similar relative holding pattern of gathering information while working closely with the Office of Emergency Management.

The Red Cross considers the disaster a level two with potential to become a level three, based on financial damage estimates. The March 2020 tornadoes caused damage at a level “three to four.”

“That determines how many people we’ll need to respond and how much funds go out for immediate assistance,” explained Sherri McKinney, Red Cross regional director of communications.

At the current juncture, volunteering for ARC is 50% boots on the ground, 50% virtual and phone case management.

“We are constantly in need of volunteers, especially during COVID when we have many volunteers over 60 considered at risk even with the vaccine going out. We like to use those folks virtually,” McKinney said.

But case management goes beyond taking information.

“It also involves perhaps a mental health volunteer, someone who has a medical background in mental health who can work through a case with someone,” McKinney said. “We have a lot of people after the tornado who are dealing with a whole lot from these storms. It’s tough for those folks; they’ve been through too much.”

Right now, ARC is working to prepare temporary rehousing efforts for displaced residents.

“We’re working with several of our partners to get assistance to those who need it,” said McKinney, noting the organization typically works with hotel partners and would not construct congregate housing due to the pandemic.

“We’re not the complete surgery to fix the problem; we’re the anesthesiologist to help you get through it,” McKinney said.

Particularly noteworthy are three homeless populations in the city, from which McKinney says “several” are still missing.

“Those folks want to go back to their homes,” McKinney said. “We will be helping them provide tents for them, cots or mats to sleep on.”

Donations can be made to assist the homeless population at parkcenternashville.org/donate, opentablenashville.org and roomintheinn.org.

Regardless of the situation, McKinney encouraged everyone who needs to simply ask.

“People are very proud not to ask for help ... but that’s what the Red Cross is for,” McKinney said. “Even if you have insurance, we have people who can walk people through the process. ... This isn’t something that comes naturally.”

Donations can be made and volunteer opportunities pursued at redcross.org. You can also sign up or request help by calling 1-800-733-2767.

Additionally, those in need of assistance should call the Nashville flood crisis helpline at 615-244-7444 or visit nashvilleresponds.com/assistance.

Flood damage can be reported at maps.nashville.gov/NERVE, which aids the city’s efforts in applying for aid.


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