New Resource Available for Tennessee Tornado Survivors

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Physical Distancing Creates New Challenges for Long-Term Recovery

An innovative project of the Tennessee Conference of the United Methodist Church is virtually linking hands with survivors of the March 3, 2020, tornadoes in Tennessee.

The Tornado Recovery Connection (TRC), funded by a grant to the conference from the Middle Tennessee Community Foundation, provides a listening ear for those who have experienced a variety of tornado-related losses, connecting callers to resources for their immediate needs. The project will also capture survivors’ long-term losses, those things they cannot immediately fix, that they will need to fully recover.

Fourteen volunteer and paid outreach workers are staffing 615-270-9255 to talk with survivors about their immediate and long-term needs, including how the COVID-19 virus is impacting their ability to recover. These outreach workers care about every loss a survivor might have experienced, from a broken house to a broken heart. The immensely valuable data from these calls will help generate resources needed for community recovery. TRC has already begun speaking with survivors.

Tennessee Conference Disaster Response Coordinator Rev. Robert Craig sought the grant. He sees this project as a way to expedite recovery by locating survivors quickly to assess how many case managers will be needed.

“The initial relief efforts of the Tennessee Conference were made possible by funding from the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR),” said Craig. “As we have been working to transition from relief to the recovery work, UMCOR consultants Christy Smith and Angela Overstreet have been instrumental gifts to our Conference and our communities. The work of the Tornado Recovery Connection also has been made possible by a generous grant from the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.”

Just over two months since the tornadoes struck, the Tennessee Conference is well ahead of the usual disaster response timeline, according to UMCOR. Despite hurdles caused by the communities’ COVID-19 lockdowns, tornado recovery planning has continued virtually with an active Nashville planning group and long-term recoveries forming in Wilson and Putnam counties.

With the information gathered, disaster case management and recovery plans for survivors can be ready when volunteer rebuild teams are able to come in person to serve in Metro Davidson, Wilson, and Putnam Counties in middle Tennessee.

“The ministry of long-term recovery in Middle Tennessee will be a joint effort with many organizations. The Tennessee Conference will be heavily involved in the work of Disaster Case Management as well as repair and rebuild projects. This ministry will be funded by the generosity of our local churches, sister conferences, UMCOR grants, and the Community Foundation,” said Craig.

Survivors who would like to partner with The Tornado Recovery Connection Long-term Recovery Group, should contact the phone number for unmet needs. Survivors will then be referred to disaster case managers who will assist as they navigate the obstacles they are confronting as they plan for and live into recovery.