May 5, 2010
As rainfall subsides and floodwaters recede, monetary relief is beginning to flow into Tennessee, where 52 of the state's 95 counties have been declared eligible for both individual and public federal funding.
"We don't have a good count yet for the number of homes affected," says Florence Coppola, UCC executive minister for Disaster Ministries, "but local communities are getting organized with state Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) and FEMA. Immediate money is available for housing rentals, which is great. People can now register with FEMA, and that will be the focus for now."
At least 28 deaths have been attributed to recent storms and flooding in the Southeast, including 19 in Tennessee.
UCC disaster response representative Connie Waidman, a long-term volunteer at Back Bay Mission in Biloxi, Miss., is working with the UCC's Southeast Conference team to plan best steps in assisting flood victims.
"We're sending out personal-protection equipment for homeowners and volunteers to use when cleaning out their homes," says Coppola. "I'm sure there will be people uninsured or underinsured. A lot of them don't have flood insurance because they don't live in a flood plain."
The National Weather Service today predicted the next chance of precipitation will be Friday, and "that doesn't look like much," says forecaster John Cohen of the National Weather Service. "So we are very fortunate. Very fortunate, indeed."
On May 4, the Cumberland River, which flows through Nashville, was at 51.8 feet – 11.8 feet above flood stage, according to the National Weather Service. While the Grand Ole Opry has sustained damage and a few high-profile entertainers have incurred loss, Coppola says televised news coverage of the flood paints only a swath of the bigger picture.
"Those aren't the people who are going to need the assistance," says Coppola. "Please don't look at that as all that's happened. What viewers aren't seeing are the homes of the people."
Gifts to aid flood recovery efforts may be made in checks payable to Wider Church Ministries. Gifts may be sent to: UCC Financial Services, Wider Church Ministries, 700 Prospect Ave., Cleveland, OH 44115. Please note in the memo portion of the check "OGHS special fund Emergency USA: 2010 Tennessee Floods."
To make a secure on-line donation, click here.