South Central Conference Adventist Community Services Disaster Response (ACS DR) volunteers provided disaster assistance to families impacted by the March 3, 2020, tornadoes that ripped through the Nashville, Tenn., area. The tornadoes and severe storms caused 25 weather-related fatalities, damaged or destroyed five public schools, left 101,521 residents without power, and closed the state’s government offices.
The ACS DR team met at New Life Church in Nashville, where Christopher Hughes is the pastor, to sort and assemble hygiene kits for the survivors affected by the disaster. The hygiene kits included a hand towel, bath towel, bar of soap or bath gel, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, and a hair comb.
Christine Washington, president of Middle Tennessee ACS Federation; Regina Stevenson, Federation ACS DR coordinator; and their team members walked the streets of north Nashville performing mobile distribution in the affected areas. The team distributed hygiene kits, bottled water, and sack lunches to those who were impacted by the tornado. Ronnie Forté, pastor, and members of the New Hope Church in Champmanboro, Tenn., provided sack lunches for north Nashville. Mobile distribution was used to deliver goods into areas that may have been cut off during the disaster or where no other services were provided.
Pastors James Owens and Forté provided grief counseling by praying with the survivors, and listening to their experiences caused by the tornado. After experiencing a disaster, stress and grief can be amplified by loss of life, homes, and destruction of one’s local community. Disasters can cause survivors an incredible range of emotions. The pastors and ACS DR volunteers understand the most common coping tools are the abilities to listen, talk, pray, and support disaster survivors during a devastating loss. ACS is grateful for the opportunity the pastors had to uplift, pray, and support the community.
Stevenson stated, “The survivors were so grateful and appreciative for the team bringing the hygiene kits and other items, because it made them feel normal and clean. Also, the survivors felt help for them had been slow, and they thought they had been forgotten.”
“I could not do what you are doing, being positive and having control of your emotions,” one survivor stated to Stevenson. Although the survivors were thankful for the disaster team assistance, it meant more to Stevenson because it gave her the opportunity to be on the frontline helping a community that had been displaced by tragedy.
ACS DR believes strongly that when disasters occur and people and communities are hurting, they should always know they are not forgotten and they are loved.
Any who would like to donate to the disaster relief fund may send monetary donations to the South Central Conference Office at 715 Youngs Lane, Nashville, Tenn. 37207, and label them “ACS Disaster Nashville.”
South Central | May 2020