Tornado Recovery Resources
We work all over Middle Tennessee, but as many of you know, Donelson/Hermitage has been our home for many years. With Ron in Donelson and Stephanie in Lebanon now, the I-40 corridor east of Nashville is our backyard. It’s a miracle that we and all of our family in the area escaped the destruction caused by the March 3, 2020 tornadoes. What our neighbors and some of our clients and friends have experienced over the past week has been absolutely heartbreaking.
There’s a lot of information floating around the internet and if you’ve been experiencing the aftermath of this disaster last week, it’s likely you may have missed something important that could be useful to you. We have listened to community meetings and sifted through tons of information online to compile the most helpful list possible for you. We aren’t experts on disaster relief and thankfully have never had to experience it first hand, but our hearts are aching for our community and we hope those who need this information will find it helpful.
Since we are located in Middle Tennessee, many of the following resources may only be available to Davidson and Wilson County residents. If you live in Cookeville and can’t find what you need below, here is a list of resources specifically for Cookeville.
Weatherproofing Your Home
As of last week, tarps were available in Nashville for victims whose homes have suffered tornado damage. Visit Nashville Organized for Action and Hope (NOAH) at Lee Chapel AME Church, located at 1200 Dr. D.B. Todd Blvd. or New Covenant Christian Church, located at 2201 Osage Street. Residents can also call 311 for assistance getting a tarp or materials to secure their homes from the weather.
How to Avoid Scams
There is an increased risk for scams during times of disaster (we heard about a lot of this after the 2010 flood). In order to avoid becoming victim to fraud, here are a few ways to protect yourself.
- Before hiring a professional such as a contractor, verify that they are properly licensed to work in Tennessee by visiting verify.tn.gov.
- Before anyone completes work on your home, ask for a copy of their liability insurance policy (and call their insurance provider to verify).
- Don’t allow any structural, plumbing, or electrical work without a permit. Not only could this create problems for you now, but it will also cause problems if/when you sell your home.
- If this tornado has left you in need of a new car, get a vehicle history report at vehiclehistory.gov and if purchasing a used car, have your own mechanic inspect it before you buy. You can also verify motor vehicle licenses at verify.tn.gov.
- Keep a record of your property damage and any repairs made to your property, and get copies of all paperwork you have signed.
- Check reviews on Google, Yelp, Better Business Bureau, and social media, and ask for references.
- Watch out for upfront fees to help you claim services, benefits, or get loans. Don’t pay for contract labor upfront or in full (some deposits may be required).
- Before providing any personal information to a FEMA Disaster Survivor Assistance team member, ask for official identification and look for a FEMA logo on their clothing.
- Avoid disaster-related scams with help from the Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs (615-741-4743).
- Get help with filing insurance claims, hiring contractors or reporting misconduct from the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance (615-741-2218).
Feel free to reach out to us for personal recommendations and we will be happy to tell you who we have had the best experiences working with on both our clients’ homes as well as our personal homes.
Before You Sell Your Property
If you’re approached by an investor who is interested in buying your property, don’t make any on the spot decisions and always consult an expert before selling. We are native Nashvillians and guide our clients in weighing the pros and cons of selling every day. Don’t hesitate to call us if you need a professional opinion.
Free Legal Advice
A toll-free legal assistance hotline is available to low-income individuals facing legal issues as a result of the tornadoes at 1-844-HELP4TN (1-844-435-7486). Callers should state that they are seeking tornado-related legal assistance. The hotline service is a partnership among the Tennessee Bar Association (TBA), the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS), the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division (ABA YLD), FEMA, and local organizations.
Survivors can also go online to ask questions to volunteer attorneys through Tennessee Free Legal Answers service: TN.FreeLegalAnswers.org.
Central Tennessee Tornadoes Home Cleanup Hotline
From now through March 20, 2020, call 800-451-1954 for help with home cleanup from the aftermath of the Central Tennessee tornado. As they are able, reputable and vetted relief agencies may assist you and your neighbors cut fallen trees, remove drywall, insulation, flooring, furniture, appliances, tarp roofs, etc. All services are free, but service is not guaranteed due to the overwhelming need. Please note: this hotline cannot assist with social services such as food, clothing, shelter, insurance, or questions about FEMA registration. Volunteers work free of charge and provide the tools and equipment necessary to complete the work. For more information, visit www.CrisisCleanup.org.
Hands on Nashville has partnered with 311/hubNashville so that people can self-report their needs and HON can deploy volunteers to them. You can also use hubNashville or call 311 to report missing stop signs, missing trash cans or recyling bins, as well as if your trash isn’t picked up on time due to storm crews blocking the streets.
Damage to Historic Properties
If you or someone you know owns a historic property damaged by last week’s tornado, the Metro Historic Zoning Commission has essential information for you about expedited preservation permits and technical restoration assistance.
Also, keep in mind that many properties constructed prior to the 1980s were built with materials containing asbestos. Learn more about asbestos and how to keep yourself and others safe if asbestos materials have been disturbed or damaged during a natural disaster.
Recover Wilson County
Recovery teams from the City of Mt. Juliet, City of Lebanon, and County of Wilson have all partnered together to ensure assistance needs are met. Many organizations and resources are available to assist those who have been impacted in our community. Anyone who has or knows of a need (property clean up, moving assistance, money, clothing, meals, medical supplies, storage, housing, or otherwise) can complete this form to reach someone who can assist you.
Additionally, Recover Wilson County has provided a list of resources here. Their next meeting will be at 6:30pm on Thursday, March 19, 2020 at Immanuel Baptist Church (214 Castle Heights Ave, Lebanon, TN 37087).
Serving Nashville since 1912, NeedLink Nashville has partnered with the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee and the United Way to provide DIRECT emergency financial assistance to support our Nashville neighbors devastated by the storms. For emergency financial assistance, apply in person on Mondays and Tuesdays between 8am-2pm (no appointment is needed). If you are 75 or older or medically homebound, please call 615-269-6835 to make arrangements. NeedLink Nashville is located at 1600 56th Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37209 in the Nations area. Applicants are asked to bring any form of documentation of a storm-related need.
Food and Financial Help
Tennessee Department of Human Services is providing temporary cash and food assistance for residents impacted by the March 3rd tornado in Davidson County, Wilson County, and Putnam County.
U.S. Small Business Administration
U.S. Small Business Administration is now offering disaster assistance in the form of low-interest, long-term loans to those affected by the storm: homeowners, private non-profits, businesses of all size, and renters.
A Business Recovery Center is open from 9am to 5:30pm at Jefferson Street Missionary Baptist Church, located at 2708 Jefferson Street, Nashville, TN 37208.
Online applications are available at disasterloan.sba.gov.
FEMA Individual Assistance
Disaster survivors with uninsured or underinsured losses can apply for FEMA assistance by:
- Visiting DisasterAssistance.gov,
- Downloading the FEMA app,
- or Calling 800-621-3362 / 800-462-7575 TTY (multilingual operators are available). The toll-free numbers are open from 7am-10pm local time, 7 days a week.
Disaster Assistance Centers
Get direct help and other resources at various community stations set up at Hermitage Community Center, East Park Community Center, or Hadley Community Center. Departments represented at these community centers include Codes, Metro Social Services, Humane Association, FEMA registration intake, Public Health, Mental Health, Red Cross, Metro Action Commission, and TN Department of Human Services. Open 7 days a week from 9am-6pm. Visit Nashville.gov for more info.
There will also be a FEMA Mobile Registration Intake Center at the Wilson County Fairgrounds (Gentry Building, 943 E. Baddour Pkwy, Lebanon, TN 37087) from 9am-6pm daily beginning March 14.
Cookeville residents may go to Hyder-Burks Agriculture Pavilion for Disaster Assistance.
Visit tn.gov/tema for more information.
Damaged Farmland / Loss of Livestock
The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers a variety of programs and services to help communities, farmers, ranchers, and businesses that have been hard hit by natural disaster events.
Any resident whose property was affected by the tornado in Middle Tennessee may apply for mortgage/rent assistance from the National Association of REALTORS® via the REALTORS® Relief Foundation (RRF). It is not necessary to be a REALTOR® to apply. The RRF will provide up to $1,000 to each qualified applicant while funds remain available. The deadline to apply is June 30, 2020, but do not delay. To apply, please follow the instructions to complete the form at this link and email it to Tennessee REALTORS® at [email protected].
NOTE: Be sure to follow the form’s instructions completely. A handwritten signature or electronic signature (such as DocuSign) is required. A signature using fonts in a Word document will not be accepted.
Mortgage Payment Relief
Was your home or your ability to make your mortgage payments harmed by an event that the President declared a disaster? You may qualify for relief to help you keep your home. Much of the mortgage industry and The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development are committed to assisting borrowers whose lives and livelihoods are thrown into turmoil by a disaster.
If you can’t pay your mortgage because of the disaster, your lender may be able to help you. If you are at risk of losing your home because of the disaster, your lender may stop or delay initiation of foreclosure for 90 days. Lenders may also waive late fees for borrowers who may become delinquent on their loans as a result of the disaster.
If you have a conventional mortgage, you are strongly encouraged to contact your lender for further information, and to see if you are eligible for relief.
If you have an FHA-insured mortgage, read here to find out what options may be available to you.
Victims of the severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding that began on March 3, 2020 in Tennessee may qualify for tax relief from the Internal Revenue Service. The President has declared that a major disaster occurred in the State of Tennessee. Following the recent disaster declaration for individual assistance issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the IRS announced recently that affected taxpayers in certain areas will receive tax relief. Individuals and households who reside or have a business in Davidson, Putnam and Wilson counties may qualify for tax relief. The declaration permits the IRS to postpone certain deadlines for taxpayers who reside or have a business in the disaster area. For instance, certain deadlines falling on or after March 3, 2020, and before July 15, 2020 may be extended through July 15, 2020. The July 15, 2020 relief applies to the individual income tax returns due on April 15, 2020 and quarterly estimated income tax payments due on April 15, 2020, and June 15, 2020,and to quarterly payroll and excise tax returns normally due on April 30, 2020. Click here for more IRS FAQs for Disaster Victims.
IRS Taxpayer Advocates will be available at the Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, March 26th from 10am-2pm and the Lebanon/Wilson County Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, April 1st from 9am-1pm. You should seek the advice of an attorney and/or certified tax specialist on any legal or tax questions and should not rely fully on any statement herein. Real estate licensees are not legal or tax experts, and therefore cannot advise you in those areas. We want to make you aware of relief opportunities that may be worth looking more into.
In addition to the possible deadline extensions above for income tax returns, there may also be possible property tax relief (Tennessee Code Annotated § 67-5-603). Check with your local tax assessors office to see if you qualify for any relief.
Low-Interest Loan Initiative to Help Residents Rebuild
Wilson Bank & Trust has announced a major loan initiative to help residents rebuild damaged homes in Davidson, Putnam, Smith, and Wilson counties. Wilson Bank & Trust has set aside $100 million for loan funding to help victims of the storm who sustained damage to their homes, including those who will need to rebuild. The bank will provide construction loans or lines of credit to those residents in affected areas with a 12-month fixed interest rate at less than half of the normal cost.
Housing and Accommodations
Airbnb is providing no-cost accommodations to Tennessee storm and tornado survivors.
Call FreemanWebb Company at 615-271-2700 for short-term lease opportunities.
Greater Nashville Apartment Association has compiled a list of communities with homes available for residents displaced by the tornadoes.
Several YMCA locations are offering free showers and coffee.
All Planet Fitness locations are offering free showers and use of fitness equipment.
Moving and Storage
Tri-Star Moving in Wilson County is offering free moving services for the next few weeks (limited availability around their current customers).
U-Haul is offering 30 days free storage at Hillwood Plaza, Fesslers Lane, and Mt. Juliet locations.
Deeds and Property Documents
Davidson County residents who are victims of the recent deadly tornado can get property documents — which they may need for insurance and mortgage purposes — from the Davidson County Register of Deeds. Copies of deeds and other documents are available at no charge to those affected by the storm.
“Some of those hit by the storm may have lost important paperwork on their property,” said Davidson County Register of Deeds Karen Johnson. “As they file claims for damages, they’ll need their documents.
“Our office is more than happy to provide free copies of their deeds and any other needed property documents that we have on file.”
The Register of Deeds office is located inside Bridgestone Arena at 501 Broadway. Free parking is provided for the office’s customers on Broadway between 6th and 7th Avenues in front of First Baptist Church. For information, call 615-862-6790.
Free copies can also be obtained online by using this Parcel Viewer link. Certified copies must be obtained at the Register’s Office.
If you or someone you know needs a certified copy and can’t make it downtown, we’ll be glad to pick up what you need and get it to you.
Lost IDs and Transportation
The Tennessee Department of Safety has Drivers Services Mobile Units in Cookeville and Nashville to help those who have lost IDs during the storms: Centennial Sportsplex (225 25th Ave N, Nashville, TN 37203) and Cookeville Community Center (240 Carlen Ave, Cookeville, TN 38501).
There is also a mobile unit at Lebanon Outlet Mall (1 Outlet Village Blvd, Lebanon, TN 37090) for those who have lost their driver’s license, or lost their home and need internet service or office space.
LYFT is also offering discounted rides (use code: NASHVILLERELIEF20).
SNAP Food Replacement
Assistance is available for current SNAP recipients who lost food in the March 3 storms. If you lost food due to a power outage of 12 hours or more, or lost food due to home damage, you may request replacement benefits within 10 days of experiencing food loss at one of the TDHS offices: Honey Alexander Center (2400 Clifton Avenue, Nashville, TN 37209) or Nashville State Community College – East Davidson Campus (2845 Elm Hill Pike, Nashville, TN 37214). Visit this link for more info or call 866-311-4287.
If you have lost medication due to the tornado, Nashville General Hospital may be able to assist you with being checked out and regaining your medication. Located at 1818 Albion Street, Nashville, TN 37208.
Hearing Aid Replacement
Lifetime Hearing Clinic in Lebanon will provide replacement loaner hearing aids for individuals who lost their hearing aids due to the storms at no cost. They will allow you to wear the loaners until you can find your hearing aids and will contact the hearing aid manufacturers for you to see if they can have your hearing aids replaced free of charge if you cannot find them. They will do this for anyone who has suffered through the tornadoes whether they purchased their hearing aids from Lifetime Hearing Clinic or not. All you have to do is contact Lifetime Hearing Clinic, located at 1430 W Baddour Pkwy Suite D, Lebanon, TN 37087, at 615-443-4070.
Mental Health Resources
Tennessee’s Crisis Phone Line is 855-274-7471 to speak with a trained mental health professional, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can also text TN to 741741.
Lantern Lane Farm in Mt. Juliet is offering tornado support groups for adults, teens, and children to safely process feelings such as worry, anxiety, guilt, and confusion from storms and related experiences. There is no fee, but donations are accepted. Register by text or phone at 615-973-5454.
Lost and Found Items
If you lost or found something in the March 3, 2020 tornado, there are two Facebook groups set up to help reconnect lost items with their owner.
Preparing for Next Time
We hope that we never experience a natural disaster like this again. However, tornadic events are commonplace in Tennessee, and part of living here is knowing how to prepare for them. As Nashville natives, some of the following tips are second nature to us but we realize that many people who have relocated here have no idea what they should do to stay safe.
Most weather professionals recommend taking shelter in the lowest level of your home, in the centermost room such as a closet or bathroom with no exterior walls or windows if possible, when there is a tornado warning in your area. There are also several different types of tornado shelters you can install in your home if that’s something you’re interested in.
It’s also a good idea to stock your “safe place” with some or all of the following items, and if you want to be extra prepared, all of these items.
- Helmets (full-face motorcycle helmets or, at the very least, regular bike helmets)
- Weather radio (we chose the Midland WR-120 because of its SAME technology)*
- Extra batteries for flashlight and weather radio
- Portable charger for cell phone
- First aid kit
- Dog leash (to keep your pet from running away)
- Dog whistle (so a search & rescue canine can find you if needed)
- Bottled water and non-perishable snacks (extra bottles, formula, and baby food if you have an infant)
- Extra change of clothing (Many tornadoes hit overnight when you’re less likely to be fully dressed.)
When a tornado warning happens, have EVERYONE put on shoes. If the worst happens, you don’t want to be climbing over rubble barefoot or in your socks.
*In addition to a weather radio, we recommend having several weather apps on your smartphone that will alert you when there is a tornado warning.
Reach out to your councilman/woman if you need anything else and don’t know where to find the right resources. Likewise, please feel free to reach out to us at any point if there’s anything we can do to help or if we can connect you with someone who can!
If needed, you can find your council members here: