Tornado and Severe Weather Response
On April 12, 2020 East Tennessee was impacted by widespread tornadoes, severe storms, and flooding. This page offers resources for those recovering and will be updated regularly.
Federal Disaster Assistance
On April 24, 2020, President Donald J. Trump declared a Major Disaster for the state of Tennessee as a result of severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding that occurred on April 12-13, 2020.
This declaration makes federal funding available in Bradley, Campbell, Hamilton, Marion, Monroe, Polk, Scott, and Washington counties. Impacted individuals in Bradley and Hamilton counties can apply for FEMA's Individual Assitance (IA) program. News releases for the disaster declaration can be found here.
If you have a homeowner’s policy, file your insurance claim immediately before applying for disaster assistance. Get the process started quickly. The faster you file, the faster your recovery can begin. Take photos and videos of all damage before you start cleaning up.
To apply for assistance, visit DisasterAssistance.gov or call 800-621-3362 (800-462-7585 TTY), multilingual operators are available, press 2 for Spanish. The toll-free numbers are open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. EDT, seven days a week.
You will need the following to apply for assistance:
• Social Security number;
• Daytime telephone number;
• Current mailing address and address and zip code of the damaged property; and
• Insurance information, if available.
Home and Property Clean Up Help
A Crisis Cleanup service is in place for Tennesseans who need help with debris removal and home cleanup from the recent widespread tornadoes and servere weather. All services are free, but service is not guaranteed due to the expected overwhelming need. Individuals needing assistance should use their website at https://www.crisiscleanup.org or the hotline at 1-844-965-1386.
The American Red Cross
The American Red Cross continues to serve those affected by the recent tornadoes. Emergency assitance is available to individuals in Hamilton and Bradley counties whose homes were destroyed or majorly impacted. For more information, please contact the American Red Cross by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
Notify your county emergency management agency about damages and issues, especially if you don’t have resources for repairs and need help. A list of county EMA contacts by region is available at www.tn.gov/tema/prepare/regional-ema-contacts.html
Tennesseans who need assistance with downed trees can email the Tennessee Volunteers Active in Disasters (TN VOAD) at firstname.lastname@example.org
After a disaster, letting your family and friends know that you are safe and well can bring your loved ones great peace of mind. The Safe and Well website is designed to help make that communication easier
Tennessee Statewide Crisis Phone Line
Call 855-CRISIS-1 (855-274-7471) to speak with a caring, trained mental health professional, 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week, if you are experiencing a mental health emergency. You can also text TN to 741741.
SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline provides 24/7, 365-day-a-year crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters. The Disaster Distress Helpline, 1-800-985-5990, is a 24/7, 365-day-a-year, national hotline dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster. This toll-free, multilingual, and confidential crisis support service is available to all residents in the United States and its territories. Stress, anxiety, and other depression-like symptoms are common reactions after a disaster. Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor. https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/disaster-distress-helpline
In times of disaster, financial donations are the best way to aid those in need. Cash can be used immediately in response to a crisis, and allows disaster relief organizations to purchase exactly what is needed, when it’s needed. Cash gives relief organizations the means to procure supplies near the affected area, which cuts down on transportation time and cost. Monetary contributions also support local economies and ensure that businesses can operate when relief supplies diminish.
The Tennessee Region of the American Red Cross is directly supporting tornado relief efforts in the State, https://www.redcross.org/local/tennessee.html.
The Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga is currently partnering with the United Way of Chattanooga to launch the Tornado Relief Fund, which will provide grants to nonprofits providing immediate and long-term vital services.
Coordinated efforts for tornado relief and cleanup are set to begin Thursday, April 16 at the Hamilton Family YMCA located at 7430 Shallowford Road, Chattanooga, TN. Volunteers need to pre-register online.
If you live in Tennessee and want to volunteer to help tornado survivors in other counties, please visit the Tennessee Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (TN VOAD), https://tnvoad.shutterfly.com/. If you'd like to volunteer and live outside of Tennessee, please visit the national site for the Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters, https://www.nvoad.org/
Disaster Unemployment Assistance
Workers in Hamilton and Bradley counties can now apply for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA). DUA provides temporary benefits to workers or self-employed individuals whose livelihood was lost or interrupted as a direct result of a major disaster and do not meet eligibility requirements for regular unemployment.
While many people seek to help during times of disaster, unfortunately there is also an increased risk for scams and fraud. Watch out for upfront fees to help you claim services, benefits, or get loans. The Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs can be reached at (615) 741-4737 or online at www.tn.gov/consumer.
The Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance licenses many of the professionals who play a role in rebuilding, including contractors, home inspectors, and insurance agents, among others. If you witness unlicensed activity or other potential violations of laws and rules involving our licensees, visit www.tn.gov/commerce to file a complaint.
Filing Insurance Claims
After a disaster, file your claim as soon as possible. Call your insurance company or agent with your policy number and other relevant information. Your policy may require that you make the notification within a certain time frame. Save all receipts, including those from the temporary repairs covered by your policy. TDCI’s Insurance Division can be reached at (615) 741-2218 or online at www.tn.gov/commerce.
Before hiring a professional such as a contractor, consumers should first verify that the individual is properly licensed to work in Tennessee by visiting www.verify.tn.gov to conduct a license check. Keep a record of your property damage and any repairs made to your property.
If you are dealing with a company or person who promises to remove debris from your property, ask them to list the services they will provide in writing. The Tennessee Board for Licensing Contractors can be reached at (615) 741-8307 or online at www.tn.gov/commerce.
Always buy from a licensed seller and do your due diligence before you buy. The Tennessee Motor Vehicle Commission can be reached at (615) 741-2711 or online at www.tn.gov/commerce.
Tennessee Department of Tourism
Effective April 2, Tennessee is under a statewide “Safer at Home” order to further mitigate the spread of coronavirus. While there are no travel restrictions, the order mandates Tennesseans stay home unless conducting essential business. Businesses that cannot safely operate during the current health crisis are closed, including Tennessee attractions.
We will welcome you with the warm hospitality Tennessee is known for when the time is right. Until then, explore “The Soundtrack of America. Made in Tennessee.” through a number of virtual attractions and live experiences.
Tennessee Housing Development Agency
Individuals or households that have been displaced by storm damage can use this resource to locate short-term or permanent rental housing options. The listings have been provided by property managers and landlords and the site includes the information about specific needs, like income restrictions, pets and accessibility. The site is also available in Spanish.