by Regine A. Webster

March 22, 2024 Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee (CFMT) is pleased to announce three recent grant awards to support recovery from the destructive tornadoes that struck Sumner County on December 9, 2023.

The region, now seemingly not a stranger to severe storms in December, swept across Middle Tennessee, resulting in seven tornado touchdowns affecting nine counties.

The Clarksville and Nashville metropolitan areas were hardest hit followed by the business corridor of Hendersonville. The combined tornadoes led to seven fatalities and 84 injuries; widespread structural damage affected homes, businesses, and infrastructure.

Following this devastating weather event, CFMT activated its Tennessee Emergency Response Fund (TERF), founded in 2008, to support tornado survivor needs outside of Davidson County.

Based on careful research, CFMT looked at how the tornado damage affected Hendersonville and Sumner County specifically. The result of the research led to three grants focused on:

  • Support for social service organizations that provide programs and direct financial assistance for disproportionately affected populations;
  • Support for those advocating for and providing affordable housing, housing repair, and utility assistance;
  • Support for small or local businesses with unmet financial needs.

Gallatin Cares received a $50,000 grant from the Tennessee Emergency Response Fund. Of this, $40,000 is dedicated to tornado recovery and will provide continued direct cash assistance to families that sustained damage to their primary residence, families that lost employment due to employer-based business damages, families whose vehicles or other capital goods were damaged or destroyed, and families that needed to be relocated due to repair work. The remaining $10,000 is earmarked to support organizational capacity. Supporting Gallatin Cares ensures that residents of Sumner County (beyond Hendersonville) have access to financial assistance to direct their recovery efforts.

The United Way of Sumner County received $93,000 for continued sub-granting to organizations providing direct financial assistance and long-term recovery support, in addition to$32,000 for organizational capacity building. These funds will ensure that the United Way of Sumner County continues to thrive and that funding for essential tornado support to the entire community remains available.

The Hendersonville Chamber of Commerce received a $125,000 grant to contribute to their existing Tornado Relief Small Business Grants Program. This funding is helping the Chamber continue to help with business recovery and enable them to reopen and recover as quickly as possible. Small business support is one of the critical linchpins of the successful long-term recovery in Sumner County. The small business grant program is organized in such a way as to be nimble in its aid of businesses; grants can be reviewed and processed quickly with available funding. A highly effective program, the small grants target funding to needs unlikely to be covered by FEMA, SBA, or insurance.

CFMT is thankful for the generosity of hundreds of donors, particularly Taylor Swift and her family, who supported the Tennessee Emergency Response Fund. We are also grateful for the strong nonprofit sector that will continue to lead an equitable tornado recovery in Sumner County.