Preparation Key As Severe Weather Season Arrives
Three years after deadly and destructive tornadoes swept through Middle Tennessee in the early hours of March 3, 2020, rebuilding is winding down to the last few homes.
For many survivors, shattered hearts and broken families and businesses can only be mended so far, though. Their healing will continue indefinitely.
The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, through the Middle Tennessee Emergency Management (MTER) Fund, has remained committed to helping people impacted by the tornadoes. Throughout this three-year process, we have worked diligently to connect your donations — more than $12.5 million in gifts received to date ($12,533,622.77) — with the needs of tornado survivors through local organizations meeting a broad spectrum of need.
We, and the hundreds of survivors affected by the tornadoes, continue to be grateful to the generous donors to the Middle Tennessee Emergency Response Fund. it continues to make a world of difference.
Here are the most recent developments:
- As of March 1, 2023, the MTER Fund has granted more than $10 million ($10,247,180.19) for tornado response.
- This represents a total of 206 grants deployed to 112 nonprofits to support tornado recovery.
- As case management for individual survivors reached single digits, members of the Middle Tennessee Emergency Response Fund committee gathered on Feb. 10, 2023. Eight new requests for funding totaling $307,085.25 were granted to support the repair/rebuild of homes for three survivors as well as to provide additional funding for services addressing needs from the March 2020 tornado, including mental health support. Grants include:
- Hands on Nashville: $14,500 for reimbursement for storage for tornado survivors displaced through home repair/construction;
- The Hope Station: $20,000 to replenish funds to for providing mental health counseling to tornado survivors;
- KEVA: $10,000 to replenish funds for providing financial support to North Nashville tornado survivors;
- Nashville Tree Conservation Corps: $15,000 for Operation Overstory tree replanting;
- St. Vincent de Paul Church: $10,000 to replenish funds for providing financial support to North Nashville tornado survivors;
- Westminster Home Connection: $127,582.25 for direct construction costs for tornado survivor case TRC0394;
- Westminster Home Connection: $10,000 for direct construction costs for tornado survivor case TRC094. (Roof replacement);
- Westminster Home Connection: *Up to $100,000 for direct construction project for N. Nashville survivor with major home repair needs. *Grant approved based on construction estimate but not yet distributed.
The committee also voted to establish and release a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the numerous houses of worship that continue to look for resources to fill a gap in funding that remains after receiving insurance payouts that were not substantial enough to fully pay for repairs needed to meet city codes. Funding approval will be determined by the committee.
If a balance remains in the Middle Tennessee Emergency Response Fund once eligible houses of worship have been funded, the committee has agreed to review a number of grant requests, which include various support to prepare for future disasters.
The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee continues to be committed to the recovery of our neighbors impacted by the March 2020 tornadoes. For more information, visit www.tornadoresponse.com.House of Worship Request for Proposal Visit TornadoResponse.com
Be prepared for severe weather season
About those future severe-weather disasters: They’re coming. We just don’t know exactly when.
March marks the beginning of severe weather season in Tennessee and a plan to be prepared for disaster can make all the difference in the safety of individuals, families and pets.
Severe weather can encompass floods, heavy rains, tornadoes and high winds, and thunderstorms and lightning. And March is the start of Severe Weather Preparedness season — as Middle Tennesseans have been reminded with catastrophic tornadoes and floods in recent years.
To help you prepare, Nashville VOAD — Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster — reminds that severe weather can happen at any time and any place, and that preparedness should be a priority.
The collaborative, which includes The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee among its many members, has put together a wealth of resources and tips on its website.
“Unfortunately, we cannot stop natural disasters. Therefore, it is crucial that families and businesses prepare for the unthinkable,” said DarKenya Waller, Executive Director of the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands, a Nashville VOAD member.
“Disaster preparedness ensures we have a plan to keep our families safe and can locate essential paperwork if a disaster occurs,” Walker continued. “Paperwork such as passports, driver’s licenses, insurance policies, child custody paperwork, property records, and estate planning are often critical to disaster recovery.
“We highly encourage families and businesses to think beyond immediate safety planning. Having essential paperwork like a power or attorney or will, completed and securely stored, can help when deciding on behalf of a loved one if they cannot decide for themselves, or sadly, when a life is lost.”
The VOAD website offers a number of downloadable Emergency Guides that cover categories such as Severe Weather, Extreme Heat, Flood, Power Outage, Tornado, and Active Shooter.
Preparedness tips for a tornado include:
- Know the signs of a tornado, including a rotating funnel-shaped cloud, an approaching cloud of debris, or a loud roar—similar to a freight train.
- Sign up for your community’s warning system. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts. If your community has sirens, become familiar with the warning tone.
- Pay attention to weather reports. Meteorologists can predict when conditions might be right for a tornado.
- Identify and practice going to a safe shelter for high winds, such as a safe room built using FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) criteria or a storm shelter built to ICC 500 standards. The next best protection is a small, interior, windowless room in a sturdy building on the lowest level.
Preparedness tips for floods include:
- Know your area’s type of flood risk. Visit FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center at https://msc.fema.gov/ portal for information.
- If flash flooding is a risk in your location, monitor potential signs such as heavy rain.
- Learn and practice evacuation routes, shelter plans, and flash flood response.
- Gather supplies in case you have to leave immediately or if services are cut off. Keep in mind each person’s specific needs, including medication. Don’t forget the needs of pets.
- Obtain extra batteries and charging devices for phones and other critical equipment.
- Obtain flood insurance. Homeowner’s policies do not cover flooding. Get flood coverage under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
- Keep important documents in a waterproof container. Create password-protected digital copies.
- Protect your property. Move valued items to higher levels. Declutter drains and gutters. Install check valves. Consider a sump pump with a battery.
For more information locally, visit the Nashville VOAD site at https://nashvilleresponds.com/get-prepared/, go to the U.S. Government website www.ready.gov, the State of Tennessee TEMA site https://www.tn.gov/tema.html, or the National Weather Service at https://www.weather.gov/safety/tornado-prepare.