With the Louisiana oil spill and failed Times Square bombing grabbing recent headlines, a national disaster has largely flown under the radar for those of us outside the affected region. Heavy weekend rains flooded rivers and creeks across Tennessee, killing 28 people, forcing mass evacuations and shutting down down much of Nashville. The Red Cross estimates that nearly 1,000 people are living in emergency shelters right now. More than 10, 000 residents are without power. The waters have begun to recede, so hard hit areas that are no longer underwater are drowning in mud and muck. In short, Tennessee needs our help.
Luckily, Americans always demonstrate the generosity and compassion we’re known for in the aftermath of disasters. Even our convicts have the volunteer spirit. Nashville inmate volunteers worked more than 36 hours laying sand bags to protect the city’s lone working water treatment plant. The grave situation in Nashville didn’t grow even more dire thanks to their hard work.
There are a number of ways we can take our cue from the Nashville inmates and help the region. If you’re near Nashville and want to volunteer, the city asks that you register with Hand On Nashville at www.hon.org, or by calling 615-298-1108. The Nashville Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management is coordinating all volunteer requests with the local non-profit organization. The web site’s servers appears overwhelmed by the traffic, so you’ll probably have better luck registering by phone. The Community Foundation’s Nashville Flood Relief Fund also needs donations. Grants from the fund will be made to nonprofits supporting relief, restoration and clean-up efforts in the Davidson County area in the aftermath of the flooding and storms. Make your donation at www.cfmt.org/floodrelief, or call 888-540-5200.
The venerable Red Cross is also responding to the flood with its usual aplomb, serving food in shelters and delivering hot meals to those stranded by the flood. The best way to support the Red Cross efforts in Tennessee is with donations. You can donate to the Nashville Red Cross at www.nashvilleredcross.org, or by calling 615-250-4300. Text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a quick and easy $10 donation. The Heart of Tennessee Red Cross is distributing flood cleanup kits. You can make a donation to support that effort at www.midtnredcross.org.
Tennessee needs our help, so let’s open our hearts and wallets and give it to them!