After tornadoes leave Tennessee in ruins, how can you help?

·5 min read

The deadliest day of tornadoes in the United States since 2013 claimed at least 24 lives, while leaving many others injured, still others unaccounted for and an entire state turned upside down throughout Tennessee. The series of Tuesday morning twisters leveled much of Nashville and other majorly populated areas, as drone footage captured the swath of destruction that leveled hundreds of structures throughout the state.

On Wednesday, preliminary findings from the National Weather Service (NWS) found the tornado damage in Putnam County, where at least 18 people died and 88 others were injured, to be the result of an EF4 strength twister with 175 mph winds. In Davidson, Smith and Wilson counties the strength was rated EF3 with estimated peak wind speeds at 165 mph and a path length of 53.4 miles and a maximum path width of 800 yards.

Rescue workers such as firefighters have worked tirelessly in the aftermath to reach trapped people. Fire Chief Jamie Luffman of Mt. Juliet had one particularly special rescue on Tuesday night. In a video shared online, Luffman can be seen carrying his son Brock to safety while telling the boy jokes to ease his anxiety.

Since the disaster, support has streamed in from around the country, yet still more is needed.

A Wednesday morning update from Nashville Mayor John Cooper on Twitter said that over $350,000 has been donated to the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee thus far, as over 5,000 people have signed up to volunteer with Hands On Nashville.

Nashville Mayor John Cooper meets with victims impacted by the deadly tornadoes that tore through dozens of buildings in the city. (Twitter/ @JohnCooper4Nash)

"Hands On Nashville is working closely with the City of Nashville and the Office of Emergency Management to ensure all of the available resources are in place to help our community in the wake of last night's destructive tornadoes throughout Davidson and surrounding counties," the organization posted on its website Tuesday.

"We are so grateful for the outpouring of support and generosity this community has shown. At this time, we are collecting contact information for those who would like to volunteer to help in the recovery and cleanup. We will share more details about specific volunteer opportunities as we learn those details from the city," the post read.

In Hands On Nashville's most recent blog post, shared on March 4, the group thanked its supporters for their quick-acting willingness to serve and volunteer their time. In a tweet, Hands on Nashville asked residents to share cleanup projects that need volunteers using #NashvilleStrong to spread awareness.

"We know when disasters strike, there are no quick fixes," said Ellen Lehman, president of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. "We need to support the affected communities and the nonprofits on the ground helping victims and addressing their needs."

To donate money, individuals can do so via the Middle Tennessee Emergency Respond Fund, which will help provide vital short-term and long-term funds.

Those who are interested in donating food can do so through the Second Harvest Food Bank. In the organization's most recent blog post, the team shared that they started working immediately after the disaster to assist the Middle Tennessee community.

"All of us at Second Harvest are devastated by the tornadoes that struck Nashville and surrounding counties in our service area such as Benton, Putnam and Wilson last night," said President and CEO Nancy Keil. "Our team is working diligently to provide all the resources we can. We've appreciated the outpouring of support, and if members of our community would like to volunteer, please check our website secondharvestmidtn.org for details and opportunities as we work around the clock to help."

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee stands by damage amid Nashville. On Twitter, Lee said the Red Cross was on hand to help displaced residents. (Twitter/ @GovBillLee)

Second Harvest added that they are partnering with the Red Cross and the Nashville Office of Emergency Management to identify additional food resource needs at specific shelters and also providing continued support for displaced residents.

Along with food banks offering goods, numerous restaurants have given away free meals throughout the week. On Tuesday, AccuWeather National Reporter Bill Waddell spoke with the owner of Uncle Bud's Catfish, who has given out hundreds of free meals to survivors.

"Woke up this morning and tornadoes hit our East Nashville right next to one of our restaurants," owner Craig Dever told AccuWeather. "And came in with no power so we just loaded up one of our trailers with our food and thought we'd go out and find a place to feed some people"

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Hands On Nashville also shared that the donation of items should be sent to the Community Resource Center (CRC), with multiple drop-off locations available. They added that personal hygiene items such as razors and shaving cream are needed along with large trash cans, adult socks, laundry detergent and underwear.

According to a Facebook post from the organization, volunteers started showing up to work and sort donations before the group had even called for help yet.

Nashville Volunteers Shine At Resource Center

We hadn't even issued the call to help yet and volunteers were already showing up and getting to work. The sun wasn't the only thing shining today! Warehouse is accepting donations this week Wed thru Fri 9am-8pm and Saturday 9am-5pm. If you know of anyone with an external secure storage place to house our overflow donations, please reach out. #nashvillestrong #ibelieveinnashville

Posted by Community Resource Center on Tuesday, March 3, 2020

For pet services, the Nashville Humane Association partnered with the Centennial Sportsplex and the Holy Rosary Church in Donelson to shelter residents and pets for families with damaged homes. The association asked for support from the community to spread the word about their availability.

"More updates to come. Please help us by spreading the word," the group said on Facebook. "There are many people who are unaware of these options available to them and it's likely other shelter locations are not able to accommodate for pets. Thank you for your continued support."

The United Way of Greater Nashville is accepting donations for the Restore the Dream Fund, a long-term disaster recovery support effort for those impacted by the tornadoes.

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