UMCOR / News Room / News & Features / Archives 2010 / 0607 - Love and Hardship in Tennessee

Love and Hardship in Tennessee

June 7, 2010—“There is so much energy and love outpoured; it breaks your heart thinking about the hardships that lie ahead,” said Rev. Jason Brock, Disaster Response coordinator for the Tennessee Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Brock was at once talking about  the enormous goodwill of United Methodists and other people of faith in the wake of record-setting floods in his state, and the fact that the disaster is far from over. Your help is urgently needed.

 So much rain fell in two days in Tennessee—15 or more inches in some spots—that some experts refer to the event as a “1,000-year flood,” not expecting to see another like it in that span of time. 

Besides middle and western Tennessee, rain also poured over south-central and western Kentucky, and northern Mississippi. Creeks and rivers overflowed their banks and caused flash flooding and inundation. Thirty-one people died in total in the event, 24 of them in Tennessee. 

Crops—especially in the western part of the state—suffered severe storm damage, and once picturesque farmlands were littered with cars, tree limbs and other heavy debris carried by the floodwaters.  For families without flood insurance—and most had long thought themselves safe from such an event—the losses are catastrophic.

National news coverage of the disaster receded far faster than the floodwaters.  In Nashville and Memphis and in scores of towns and villages spread over 52 counties, vulnerable people only knew they were not alone because of the compassion and generosity of neighbors near and far united in a connectional web of caring.

Neighbor lent a hand to neighbor, and volunteers arrived by the busload. Those who were unable to come in person, assembled cleaning buckets and sent them to UMCOR Sager Brown and annual conference depots to be delivered to those in need. More than 12,000 have been received.

Many more sent monetary gifts through UMCOR’s US Disaster Response program. Those funds will help repair and rebuild homes and places of worship.

“It becomes more and more clear to me as we move from disaster to disaster,” said Rev. Jay Voorhees of Antioch UMC, “that there is a great need simply for cash. It’s true in Haiti and it’s true here, too. Just after the flood, we were running short of face masks.  Having the cash on hand to just go out and purchase them would be so helpful.”

Pastor Voorhees said the same will hold true when rebuilding begins.  “We’ll need to purchase building materials and tools. It really comes down to having the dollars on hand to buy the things we need immediately.”

The best estimates say it will be at least two years before the people of Tennessee fully recover from the flood of 2010.

The floodwaters carried away many things—a wedding album, an heirloom, a life—that cannot be replaced or restored. While your gift of compassion can’t bring these back, it can help those impacted by this disaster to start again, knowing that their pain is not dismissed, their plight is not forgotten.

Please give to U.S. Disaster Response, UMCOR Advance #901670 and help the people of Tennessee rebuild. Please give generously.