As hundreds of families across middle Tennessee continue the difficult task of cleaning up their homes and starting to recover from the recent catastrophic flash flooding, officials are warning that Tropical Storm Ida may strike the same area, bringing the risk of new flooding.
The American Red Cross is working alongside emergency officials and community groups to help those in need with a safe place to stay, food to eat, critical relief supplies, emotional support and comfort for families affected by the deadly flooding.
Ida could bring another 6 inches of rain to Middle Tennessee from Tuesday into Wednesday. On Saturday, August 21, relentless rain — as much as 17 inches in less than 12 hours — inundated Middle Tennessee knocking homes off their foundations, damaging bridges, roads, schools and cutting off access to some areas completely. According to impact assessments, more than 600 homes were either heavily damaged or destroyed by the flash flooding.
RED CROSS RESPONSE Sunday night, four emergency shelters provided refuge for some 40 people. Since Aug. 28, community organizations have provided 543 total overnight stays.
Red Cross emergency response vehicles are circulating through accessible areas to distribute hot meals, water and critical relief supplies including cleanup kits, hygiene items, gloves, shovels and tarps. Some 180 trained Red Cross volunteers are working alongside our partners and have helped to provide more than 7,500 meals and snacks and distribute more than 5,200 relief supplies to people in need.
Trained Red Cross volunteers are also helping people cope with this heartbreaking situation, as well as replacing prescription medications, eyeglasses or critical medical equipment like canes and wheelchairs that were left behind in the rush to get to safety. Volunteers have already made more than 1,000 contacts providing emotional support, health services and spiritual care for people during this challenging situation.
In the coming days, the Red Cross will be reaching out to families that need recovery assistance to offer support. We plan to provide financial assistance to help families replace clothes or food, offset transportation costs, or support any other immediate need. In Waverly, the Red Cross is meeting with people at a multi-agency resource center people can learn about available services and programs to help them rebuild their lives.
HOW YOU CAN HELP You can help people affected by disasters like floods and countless other crises by making a gift to Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift is a commitment to helping people in need, and every single donation matters. Financial donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Visit redcross.org, call 800-RED-CROSS, or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
SAFETY AFTER THE FLOOD
- Pay attention to how you and your loved ones are experiencing and handling stress. Learn more here about how to recover emotionally.
- Do not use water that could be contaminated to wash dishes, brush teeth, prepare food, wash hands, make ice or make baby formula.
- Watch pets closely and keep them under your direct control.
- Help people who require special assistance—children, older adults, those without transportation, large families who may need additional help in an emergency situation, people with disabilities, and the people who care for them.
- Stay away from floodwaters. Beware of snakes, insects and other animals that may be in or around floodwaters and your home.
- If power lines are down outside your home, do not step in puddles or standing water. Report them immediately to the power company.
- Throw out all food, beverages and medicine exposed to flood waters and mud. When in doubt, throw it out. This includes canned goods, plastic utensils, baby bottle nipples and containers with food or liquid that has been sealed shut.
- Wear protective clothing, including rubber gloves and rubber boots, and be cautious when cleaning up.
- Be careful when moving furnishings or debris because they may be waterlogged and heavier.
- Pump out flooded basements gradually (about one-third of the water per day) to avoid structural damage. If the water is pumped out completely in a short period of time, pressure from water-saturated soil on the outside could cause basement walls to collapse.
- Service damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits, and leaching systems as soon as possible. Damaged sewage systems are health hazards.
- Take pictures of home damage, both of the buildings and its contents, for insurance purposes.
SAFE SHELTER COVID-19 has not changed the Red Cross mission. We are helping families in the same way we always have — and ensuring people have a safe place to stay during disasters is a critical part of that support. How we support sheltering efforts may be different in each community, depending on local emergency plans and the scale of the disaster.
To help keep everybody safe, everyone in Red Cross emergency shelters is required to wear face coverings.
In addition, we’re using health screenings, enhanced cleaning procedures and encouraging social distancing as much as possible. The Red Cross helps anyone in need after a disaster, and everyone is welcome in our shelters.
We encourage people who plan to stay in a Red Cross shelter to bring prescription medications, extra clothing, pillows, blankets, hygiene supplies, other comfort items and important documents. Don’t forget to bring any special items for children, such as diapers, formula and toys, or for family members who have unique needs.