Emergency Disaster Relief Information
Emergency Disaster Relief Information for Revenue Employees
♦ Agency Volunteers................................................................................................3
♦ Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Counseling Available.........................3
♦ Housing ..................................................................................................................3
♦ Food/Water ............................................................................................................4
o Lost Food: Need Replacement Funds? .................................................4
o Food Replacement Form .......................................BACK OF PACKET
♦ Clothing ..................................................................................................................5
♦ Free Laundry Service (Wed, May 12).................................................................5
♦ Social Services via Disaster Information Centers ............................................6
♦ Calls to Make – Utility Contact Numbers .........................................................7
♦ Health & Safety Information ..............................................................................7
♦ Debris Removal .....................................................................................................8
♦ Emergency Management Agencies
o Repair Assistance: Federal (FEMA) & Tennessee (TEMA)..............8
♦ What Information Do I Need to Apply for FEMA Assistance .......................9
♦ Housing Needs....................................................................................................10
♦ Home Repair Assistance (Samaritan’s Purse) ...............................................14
o Owner’s Job Approval Form.................................BACK OF PACKET
♦ How to avoid a home repair rip‐off .................................................................15
♦ Housing Issues ....................................................................................................17
♦ Common questions related to insurance & damages ....................................21
♦ Summary: What to do after a flood ..................................................................23
♦ Tetanus Shots.......................................................................................................25
Because of the good hearted nature of our agency, many of Revenue’s employees have inquired
what they can do individually to help.
If you want to call upon these individuals to lend a helping hand, please call Connie L. Jarrett,
Director of Human Resources at (615) 741‐2828. She can put you in contact with the fellow
Revenue employees who are willing and able to assist.
Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
The floods in Middle Tennessee have level a trail of structural destruction and impacted many
lives – directly and indirectly. But what about the emotional impact? Feeling of grief, despair,
frustration and stress are normal reactions, but EAP can assist.
Counselors are available 24 hours, seven days per weeks to provide confidential assistance to
you. The toll free telephone number for state of Tennessee employees is 1‐800‐308‐4934. They
can also provide info on a variety of topics including financial issues, legal consultation, etc.
If possible, you may also visit http://www.MagellanHealth.com/member for other resources,
self‐help tools and information. If you have questions, call 615‐741‐8643.
Be aware that continued long hours of work, and losses from damaged homes can create a
highly stressful situation for cleanup workers. To be certain you do not become more
vulnerable to stress‐induced illnesses and disease, it may also be a good idea to seek emotional
support from family members, neighbors or mental health professionals, if you feel you need it.
This may help prevent more serious stress‐related problems in the difficult months ahead. Try
to avoid physical exhaustion, get the proper amount of sleep and take advantage of disaster
relief programs and services to ease your burden; you are not in it alone.
There are many temporary shelters available. If you need shelter, please call the American Red
Cross at (615) 250‐4250.
Lipscomb University Student Life Center 105 N. James Campbell Blvd.
3901 Granny White Pike, Nashville TN Columbia, Tennessee 38401
(800) 524‐0912 or (931) 388‐9406
Al Menah Shrine Temple Gordon Jewish Center
1354 Brick Church Pike, Nashville TN 801 Percy Warner Boulevard, Nashville TN
McGavock High School You can also call 211 to be connected with a social services
operator in your area. This may assist you in finding the closest
3150 McGavock Pike, Nashville TN
Several temporary stations have been setup to provide food for those in need. Consider visiting
one of the following:
New Song Christian Fellowship Una Church of Christ
2949 Nolensville Road, Nashville, TN 1917 Murfreesboro Road, Nashville, TN
(615) 837‐9353 (615) 361‐8920
Hours: Th: 2‐5; F: 11‐2 Hours: W: 9‐11
Hamilton United Methodist Church Woodmont Baptist Church ‐ Food Boxes
3105 Hamilton Church Road, Antioch, TN 2100 Woodmont Blvd, Nashville, TN
Hours: M & W: 4‐6; Sa: 9‐12
Metro government has set up Salvation Army mobile feeding stations at St. Edwards Church and
Bellevue Baptist Church to provide lunch and dinner for individuals and families who need
You can also contact a local church or call 211 to be connected with an operator in your area who
may assist you in finding food near your area.
Lost Food? Need Replacement Assistance
According to the Tennessean newspaper (May 11, 2010), Middle Tennessee residents who receive
food stamps and those who have never received food assistance before can get government help
to replace food spoiled due to the flood and related power losses.
The request for replacement funds must be made to the Department of Human Services by
Friday, May 14, 2010. ʺIf your power has been out for at least 24 hours or if you lost food in the
flood, then you can request more food stamps to replace the spoiled food,ʺ said Russ Overby, lead
attorney for health and benefits with the Legal Aid Society.
Individuals who were receiving food stamps before the flood can fill out the form, which is in the
back of this packet, and take it to the nearest Department of Human Services office to receive
replacement food aid. Those who have never received food aid can apply online at
http://www.tn.gov/foodstamps or call 1‐866‐311‐4287 for more information or
Because of the flood, the Department of Human Services will be flexible about the paperwork
needed to prove eligibility for the program during states of emergency, Overby said.
Along with many churches and neighborhood non‐profits, both the Salvation Army and the
American Red Cross have a free closet that will assist those needing clothes.
The active community relief locations of the Salvation Army include:
1. Bellevue Community Ctr., 656 Colice Jeanne Rd 37221
2. Coleman Community Ctr., 384 Thompson Ln 37211
3. Hadley Community Ctr., 1037 28th Ave S.
The Salvation Army is also providing meals, beverages and snacks to those in need in addition to
emotional and spiritual care.
Other Emergency Assistance Locations are:
• Magness‐Potter Community Ctr ‐ 611 Stockell St., Nashville
Hours: 9 a.m. ‐ 6:30 p.m. M‐F Phone: 615‐255‐0554
• Madison Citadel Corps ‐ 425 Neelys Bend Rd, Madison 37115
Hours: 10 a.m. ‐ 7 p.m. Mon‐Sat Phone: 615‐865‐4297
• Murfreesboro Corps ‐ 1137 West Main St., Murfreesboro
Hours: 8 a.m. ‐ 4 p.m. M‐F Phone: 615‐895‐7071
Please call 615‐250‐4300 or 1‐877‐253‐4334 (toll free) from 8 AM – 5 PM on Monday – Friday to
find the American Red Cross (ARC) that is closest and can assist you the most effectively. The
middle TN ARC is made up of seven local community chapters that have offices in:
• Clarksville, TN • Metro Davidson County
• Murfreesboro, TN • Wilson County (Lebanon, TN)
• Tullahoma, TN • Putnam County (Cookeville, TN)
• Lewisburg, TN • McMinnville, TN
• Columbia, TN • Franklin, TN
Free Laundry Service
Because flood waters can be so dangerous and basic needs are so critical when disaster strikes,
Tide has created the Tide® Loads of Hope program which provides a mobile Laundromat. One
truck and a fleet of vans with over 32 washers & dryers will be cleaning loads of laundry for
free. This includes washing, drying and folding clothes to assist those affected.
It is confirmed that Tide will be in middle Tennessee on Wednesday, May 12, 2010 from
8:00 AM – 6:00 PM Central at the Dollar General Store, 2403 Lebanon Pike, Nashville, TN 37214.
If you need this valuable service, please make arrangements to transport and drop off your
Metro government has opened Disaster Information Centers to provide general information on
utilities, social service assistance, and legal and insurance information. Centers will be staffed by
volunteers, Parks Department and other Metro employees.
Disaster Information centers are currently open from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM Central at:
• Bellevue Community Center‐656 Colice Jeanne Road, 37221
• Coleman Regional Center ‐384 Thompson Lane at Nolensville Road 37211
• East Park Regional Center‐ 700 Woodland Street 37206
• Hadley Park Regional Center‐ 1037 28th Ave. N. 37208
• Hermitage Community Center‐3720 James Kay Lane 37076
Other social services, such as those needing assistance with prescriptions, transportation, etc.
may be obtained by calling 211 or contacting a local church in your area.
Work – Taking Leave
Please contact your immediate supervisor regarding your work schedule and keep us informed.
We are concerned about you and yours and continue to wish you the best.
Your House – Calls to Make/Utility Contact Numbers
In this time of crisis, it is important to call your utility company and other businesses regarding
your services. The following numbers may be useful:
• Metro Department of Public Works: 615‐862‐8750
• Metro Water: 615‐862‐4800
• Nashville Electric Service: 615‐736‐6900
• Piedmont Natural Gas: 800‐752‐7504
• Comcast: 615‐244‐5900
• AT&T: 800‐222‐0300
Health & Safety Information
There are important tips to consider after a flood. Please read and observe the following:
• Ventilate your home. Open all doors and windows to allow air to circulate and dry out
your home. Dehumidify as soon as possible after a flood.
• Mold growth can cause additional damage. Active mold growth is slimy or fuzzy and is
usually green, black, orange or purple. Inactive mold is dry, powdery and may be white.
Mold spores spread easily they are carried by air currents, pets and people. Watch out!
• Throw away any items that do not dry completely because they can harbor germs,
produce mold and irritate allergies. This may lead to respiratory or other illnesses.
Freezing inactivates mold. Keep the humidity and temperature as low as possible.
• Flood waters may contain sewage and other hazardous substances – there is some risk of
disease from eating or drinking anything contaminated with flood water.
• If you have any open cuts or sores that will be exposed to flood water, keep them as clean
as possible by washing well with soap to control infection. If a wound develops redness,
swelling, or drainage, seek immediate medical attention.
• Do not allow children to play in flood water areas, wash childrenʹs hands frequently
(always before meals), and do not allow children to play with flood‐water contaminated
toys that have not been disinfected. You can disinfect toys using a solution of one cup of
bleach in 5 gallons of water.
• If you smell the odor of natural gas in your home (similar to rotten eggs) do not turn
appliances on or off, and do not use your home phone. Leave the premises immediately
and call the gas company from a neighbor’s home or your cell phone. Do not try to turn
off your natural gas service on your own.
• If you see a downed power line wires, assume it is live and report the emergency to 911.
• Be sure to turn off all power to flooded areas in your home containing electrical wires or
appliances. Otherwise, danger could be present!
Your House – Debris Removal
As thousands of Tennessee citizens begin cleaning up from the weekend’s historic flooding,
Nashville Metro Public Works has issued the following preliminary guidelines for residents who
need to place debris curbside for collection:
• All items and materials MUST be separated into four different piles, and placed at the
curb or street side for collection. If the debris is not separated, it will not be collected.
1. White goods and metals (appliances, etc.)
2. Construction and demolition debris (lumber, windows, etc.)
3. Vegetation (brush, limbs and all other yard waste)
4. Household trash and garbage (including carpet)
• Items should NOT be placed in public alleys. Alleys need to remain clear for emergency
crews and trash collection services.
While Public Works is still finalizing a comprehensive plan and schedule for debris collection,
residents can go ahead and place items out for collection.
All debris and flood‐damaged items should be placed at the curb/streetside for collection.
Davidson County residents SHOULD NOT bring these items to Metro Convenience Centers for
disposal. For additional information, residents should call Customer Service at 615‐862‐8750.
Your House – Repair Assistance (FEMA/TEMA)
As you work through the trauma of salvaging and repairing your home, be sure to
document everything. Also, as you make necessary purchases, keep your receipts in a
safe location. They may be helpful in the future.
Please check with the emergency management agency on a federal (FEMA) and state
(TEMA) level to see what assistance can be provided.
Disaster Assistance Available from FEMA – To apply by phone:
Call 1 (800) 621‐FEMA (3362) or Visit http://www.fema.gov/assistance/index.shtm
FEMA Designated Counties for Tennessee Severe Storms, Flooding,
Straight‐Line Winds, and Tornadoes
Disaster Summary For FEMA‐1909‐DR, Tennessee Declaration Date: May 4, 2010
Incident Type: Severe Storms, Flooding, Straight‐Line Winds, and Tornadoes
Incident Period: April 30, 2010, and continuing
Individual Assistance (Assistance to individuals and households):
Cheatham, Davidson, Dyer, Hickman, McNairy, Montgomery, Perry, Shelby, Tipton, and
(Assistance to State and local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations for
emergency work and the repair or replacement of disaster‐damaged facilities):
Cheatham, Davidson, Dyer, Hickman, McNairy, Montgomery, Perry, Shelby, Tipton, and
Williamson Counties for debris removal and emergency protective measures (Categories
A and B), including direct Federal assistance, under the Public Assistance program.
Hazard Mitigation Grant Program
(Assistance to State and local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations for actions
taken to prevent or reduce long term risk to life and property from natural hazards):
All counties in the State of Tennessee are eligible to apply for assistance under the Hazard
Mitigation Grant Program.
Additional designations may be made at a later date after further evaluation.
What Information do I Need to Apply for FEMA Assistance?
Call 1 (800) 621‐FEMA (3362) or Visit http://www.fema.gov/assistance/index.shtm
Whether applying online OR over the phone, you should have a pen and paper
and the following information ready:
• Your Social Security number.
• Current and pre‐disaster address.
• A telephone number where you can be contacted.
• Insurance information.
• Total household annual income
• A routing and account number from your bank (only necessary if you want to have disaster
assistance funds transferred directly into your bank account)
• A description of your losses that were caused by the disaster.
After youʹve completed your application for assistance, you will receive a FEMA
application number. Write down this number and keep it for future reference.
• Temporary Housing (a place to live for a limited period of time): Money is available to
rent a different place to live, or a government provided housing unit when rental
properties are not available.
• Repair: Money is available to homeowners to repair damage from the disaster to their
primary residence that is not covered by insurance. The goal is to make the damaged
home safe, sanitary, and functional.
• Replacement: Money is available to homeowners to replace their home destroyed in the
disaster that is not covered by insurance. The goal is to help the homeowner with the cost
of replacing their destroyed home.
• Permanent Housing Construction: Direct assistance or money for the construction of a
home. This type of help occurs only in insular areas or remote locations specified by
FEMA, where no other type of housing assistance is possible.
What Specific Items are Covered by ʺHousing Needsʺ Assistance?
ʺHousing Needsʺ assistance is assistance from FEMA that may be used to repair any of the
• Structural parts of your home (foundation, outside walls, roof).
• Windows, doors, floors, walls, ceilings, cabinetry.
• Septic or sewage system.
• Well or other water system.
• Heating, ventilating, and air conditioning system.
• Utilities (electrical, plumbing, and gas systems).
• Entrance and exit ways from your home, including privately owned access roads.
• Blocking, leveling, and anchoring of a mobile home and recon‐necting or resetting its
sewer, water, electrical, fuel lines, and tanks.
Is Disaster Help Available if I Have Insurance?
Possibly. If you have not already contacted your insurance agent to file a claim, please do this as
soon as possible. Failure to file a claim with your insurance company may affect your eligibility
for assistance. After filing a claim, if any of the following situations occur FEMA may be able to
provide some assistance:
• Your insurance settlement is delayed. Delayed means a decision on your insurance
settlement has been delayed longer than 30‐days from the time you filed the claim. If a
decision on your insurance settlement has been delayed, you will need to write a letter to
FEMA explaining the circumstance. You should include documentation from the
insurance company proving that you filed the claim. If you filed your claim over the
telephone, you should include the claim number, date when you applied, and the
estimated time of how long it will take to receive your settlement. Any help awarded to
you by FEMA would be considered an advance and must be repaid to FEMA once an
insurance settlement is received.
• Your insurance settlement is insufficient to meet your disaster‐related needs. If you
have received the maximum settlement from your insurance and still have an unmet
disaster‐related need, you will need to write a letter to FEMA indicating the unmet
disaster‐related need. You will also need to send in documentation from your insurance
company for review.
• You have exhausted the Additional Living Expenses (ALE) provided by your insurance
company. If you have received the maximum settlement from your insurance for
Additional Living Expenses (Loss of Use) and still need help with your disaster‐related
temporary housing need, write a letter to FEMA indicating why you continue to have a
temporary housing need. You will also need to provide documentation to prove use of
ALE from insurance, and a permanent housing plan.
• You are unable to locate rental resources in your area. The FEMA Helpline has a list of
rental resources in the disaster area. If no resources are available in your county, then the
Helpline agent can provide you with resources in an adjacent county.
You have up to twelve (12) months from the date you registered with FEMA to submit your insurance
information for review. By law, we cannot provide money to individuals or households for losses that are
covered by insurance.
The TN Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) advises for ʺdisaster‐relatedʺ questions, call the FEMA
Helpline at 800‐525‐0321. For people who live in counties already declared eligible for ʺfederal disaster
assistance,ʺ call FEMA on 800‐462‐9029.
Floods are prevalent in Tennessee and still cause declarations of disaster, although mitigation efforts over
the years have reduced much of the serious flooding and flash flooding that have plagued Tennesseans
before Tennessee Valley Authority dams. Floods, however, are still the number one weather‐related killer.
A flood can happen anywhere, in the flatlands of West Tennessee, in the rolling meadows of Middle
Tennessee or along the mountainous terrain of East Tennessee.
A flood is a flow or overflow of water from a river or similar body of water, occurring over a period of time
and rising above the normal levels for water. Flooding may be caused by thunderstorms and by fronts that
may fill creeks or river basins too quickly. Even Tennessee may experience torrential rains from decaying
hurricanes or other tropical systems. The Mississippi River Flood of 1993 was caused by repeated heavy
rain from thunderstorms over a period of weeks.
Flash floods are quickly‐rising floods, usually occurring as the result of very heavy rain over a short period
of time, and typically surge through dry creek beds or ditches unexpectedly. Flash floods can be caused by
ice jams on rivers in conjunction with a winter or spring thaw or a dam or levee break. The constant influx
of water finally causes a treacherous overflow which can sweep away vehicles, uproot trees, rip away
propane tanks, level buildings, roll boulders into roadways, and drag bridges off their piers. Most
surprising is the speed with which the water rises.
A frightening example of a flash flood that combined with other disasters to kill a large number of people
was the Johnstown Flood of Pennsylvania on May 31, 1889. Johnstown was a steel manufacturing
community that did not recognize the danger they were in from a dam 14 miles upstream. The South Fork
Dam, stressed beyond its ability, failed during several days of torrential downpour. The dam released 20
million tons of water and debris that rose at times to 60 feet high and rushed downhill at 40 mph sweeping
nearly all homes, factories, equipment, bridges and other paraphernalia in its path. The debris piled against
a stone bridge in Johnstown that became oil soaked and which then caught fire. Eighty survivors who had
avoided drowning and who were on the debris or who were floating down the river into the debris were
burned to death. The flood leveled 1,600 homes, and the flood and fire killed 2,209 people. SOURCE:
Safety Tips for Flood Victims
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends several safety tips to the victims of
floods. This safety alert illustrates some dangerous practices which consumers may be tempted to engage in
during efforts to rebuild or while staying in temporary housing, tents, or partially damaged homes. This
information is provided in an effort to prevent injuries and deaths from consumer products as flood
survivors make new beginnings.
ʺWe hope this information helps prevent product‐related injuries and deaths during these difficult times.ʺ
‐ Chairman Ann Brown
Do not use electrical appliances that have been wet. Water can damage the motors in electrical appliances,
such as furnaces, freezers, refrigerators, washing machines, and dryers.
If electrical appliances have been under water, have them dried out and reconditioned by a qualified
service repairman. Do not turn on damaged electrical appliances because the electrical parts can become
grounded and pose an electric shock hazard or overheat and cause a fire. Before flipping a switch or
plugging in an appliance, have an electrician check the house wiring and appliance to make sure it is safe to
Electricity and water donʹt mix. Use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) to help prevent electrocutions
and electrical shock injuries. Portable GFCIs require no tools to install and are available at prices ranging
from $12 to $30.
When using a ʺwet‐dry vacuum cleaner,ʺ be sure to follow the manufacturerʹs instructions to avoid electric
shock. Do not allow the power cord connections to become wet. Do not remove or bypass the ground pin
on the three‐prong plug. Use a GFCI to prevent electrocution. NEVER allow the connection between the
machineʹs power cord and the extension cord to lie in water. To prevent a gas explosion and fire, have gas
appliances (natural gas and LP gas) inspected and cleaned after flooding.
If gas appliances have been under water, have them inspected and cleaned and their gas controls replaced.
The gas company or a qualified appliance repair person or plumber should do this work. Water can
damage gas controls so that safety features are blocked, even if the gas controls appear to operate properly.
If you suspect a gas leak, donʹt light a match, use any electrical appliance, turn lights on or off, or use the
phone. These may produce sparks. Sniff for gas leaks, starting at the water heater. If you smell gas or hear
gas escaping, turn off the main valve, open windows, leave the area immediately, and call the gas company
or a qualified appliance repair person or plumber for repairs. Never store flammable materials near any gas
appliance or equipment.
Check to make sure your smoke detector is functioning. Smoke detectors can save your life while fires are
still small. Check the battery frequently to make sure the detector is operating. Fire extinguishers also are a
good idea. Keep them current.
Gasoline is made to explode! Never use gasoline around ignition sources such as cigarettes, matches,
lighters, water heaters, or electric sparks. Gasoline vapors can travel and be ignited by pilot lights,
thermostats or other ignition sources. Make sure that gasoline powered generators are away from easily
Chain saws can be hazardous, especially if they ʺkick back.ʺ To help reduce this hazard, make sure that
your chain saw in equipped with the low‐kickback chain. Look for other safety features on chain saws,
including hand guard, safety tip, chain brake, vibration reduction system, spark arrestor on gasoline
models, trigger or throttle lockout, chain catcher, and bumper spikes. Always wear shoes, gloves, and
protective glasses. On new saws, look for certification to the ANSI B‐175.1 standard.
When cleaning up from a flood, store medicines and chemicals away from young children. Poisonings can
happen when young children swallow medicines and household chemicals. Keep household chemicals and
medicines locked up and away from children. Use the child resistant closures that come on most medicines
and chemicals. Burning charcoal gives off carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide has no odor and can kill
you. Never burn charcoal inside homes, tents, campers, vans, cars, trucks, garages, or mobile homes.
WARNING: Submerged circuit breakers and fuses pose explosion and fire hazard! Replace all circuit
breakers and fuses that have been under water:
GAS CONTROL VALVES on furnaces, water heaters, and other gas appliances that have been under water
are unfit for continued use. If they are used, they could cause a fire or an explosion. Silt and corrosion from
flood water can damage internal components of control valves and prevent proper operation. Gas can leak
and result in an explosion or fire. Replace ALL gas control valves that have been under water.
For ʺdisaster‐relatedʺ questions, call the FEMA Helpline at 800‐525‐0321.
For people who live in counties that have already been declared eligible for ʺfederal disaster assistance,ʺ call
FEMA at 800‐462‐9029.
Home Repair Assistance (Samaritan’s Purse)
Samaritan’s Purse is partnering with Bethel World Outreach Center for Tennessee’s disaster relief
after this past weekend’s thunderstorms caused widespread flooding in Nashville and the middle
TN area. Samaritanʹs Purse specializes in meeting critical needs for victims of war, disaster,
famine, and epidemics in the worldʹs most troubled regions. The organization matches resources
to needs, personnel to situations, capabilities to opportunities.
If you are a homeowner affected by the flood, Samaritan’s Purse would like to help you. Please
call 615‐346‐1310 and give us detailed information about where you live, the damage in your
area/home, and what help you need. You can also email these specifics to firstname.lastname@example.org
Samaritan’s Purse will help clear the damaged area (including mud and belongings from the
house), remove carpets, stripping ruined sheetrock & drywall, pulling up flooring, and treating
the area to kill mold.
You will need to sign the “Owner’s Job Approval Form” before Samaritan’s Purse can come out to
you. The “Owner’s Job Approval Form” is in the back of the packet for you to complete or you
can download it from http://bwoc.org/Articles/1000068389/Publisher/File.aspx?ID=1000018154
How to Avoid a Home Repair Rip‐Off
Many times following a natural disaster, one of the major problems faced by the victims is
predatory home repair rip‐off artists. To be sure, there will be individuals who legitimately want
to help and are simply offering to provide you with a valuable service. These builders or
contractors, who are properly licensed and credentialed, are your best bets during this difficult
Beware of the Following:
• High pressure door‐to‐door tactics
• Offers of reduced prices due to “leftover materials” from other jobs
• A builder or contractor who asks you to pay for the whole job at the beginning
• Signing a contract for building or repair service which requires you to use your home or
property as security or collateral for the work
• A builder or contractor who shows up in an unmarked truck, van, or other vehicle
• Requests that you pay in cash
Identify a reputable builder or contractor:
• Deal only with licensed and insured (or bonded) contractors. Make sure you know the
person with whom you are dealing and the company he or she represents. Require
documentary proof of the identity of their company and of the license and insurance.
• To investigate the person or company, get a list of references with phone numbers and
addresses and check them out. Call the Better Business Bureau to see if there are any
complaints lodged against them, and to report any suspicious or inappropriate actions on
the part of the contractor or builder.
• Write down the license plate number of the vehicle driven by the builder or contractor for
possible referral to the authorities and to aid in identification. Take note of the color,
make, and model of the vehicle that is being driven, with special attention to whether or
not the vehicle has company logos, names, addresses, phone numbers or identifying
information. Be especially suspicious of unmarked trucks, vans, or other vehicles. If you
have already been scammed, do not hesitate to call law enforcement.
• You should never pay even a deposit until you are sure of the contractor and the
company. Even then, it is recommended that you should never pay more than one‐third of
• It is recommended that you pay by check, or perhaps money order, but not cash. This is so
you have a record of the transaction. You should question the builder or contractor very
closely about whether or not his company is insured against claims of such things as
Worker’s Compensation, property damage to your home, and general liability.
• Never write a check or pay cash to the individual contractor for building materials. A
better practice is to make the builder give you a written list of the materials required for
the job, and then you go directly to the supplier of your choice, and consult with them.
Many times these stores will have personnel who know the contractor, and who may
know about the materials needed for the job. Once you purchase the materials and they
are delivered, you should monitor the use of the materials by the builder.
• If you have insurance, you should contact your insurance agent immediately. If at all
possible, you should wait for the adjuster, since your insurance policy may require the
adjuster’s visual inspection before the insurance authorizes payment for repairs. Again, if
possible, you should make only temporary repairs until an adjuster looks at the damage. It
is recommended that you get at least three estimates from three different reputable firms.
Ask if there is a charge for the estimate. Remember that the best person for the job is not
necessarily the lowest bidder.
• When you decide on a builder or contractor, don’t let them force you to sign the contract
immediately. First, read the contract carefully and ask as many questions as it takes to
understand the terms. If you can’t read, or don’t read well, ask someone you trust to read
it to you, or consult a lawyer. You should make sure that the contract specifies when the
work will start, and when it will finish. Make sure it has clear, understandable terms as to
what happens and who is liable if either party “breaches” (doesn’t act according to the
terms) the contract.
Monitor the Work:
• Always check the credentials and credibility of everyone working on your property. Use
a local company if possible as it is easier to track the work history of locally‐based
companies and easier to find someone from a local company if repairs do not live up to
• Maintain contact with the materials supplier and ask them to contact you if the builder
attempts to return or exchange any materials, especially in return for cash. Remember that
you purchased the materials; you own them, and the builder or contractor should not be
allowed to take away the “leftover” materials that are in good condition. The contractor or
builder may, however, be required under the provisions of the contract, to clean up the
work site and haul away scraps and trash.
• Keep a written record of your activities in a diary, notebook, or calendar. This is an
important source of information when trying to recall details about your discussions with
the contractors and builders and other post disaster events.
• Be extremely careful about signing a contract for the work. Never let anyone rush you into
signing the contract. Even though you may feel pressured to make a decision quickly, you
should proceed cautiously and methodically.
• Never sign a contract with blanks that are not filled in properly. Never release the final
payment for the work until all of the work is completed according to the contract. If there
is anything about the contract that you do not understand, you should consult a lawyer.
• Homeowners should also be aware that, under certain circumstances, builders,
contractors, and suppliers can take legal action to secure payment for such things as labor,
materials, or payment for work that is partially completed. This legal action may be called
a lien. It may be against you, under the appropriate circumstances. If you have this
happen to you, contact an attorney immediately.
• A proper contract should contain a section that addresses the “buyer’s right to cancel.”
Usually, the homeowner has up to three business days to cancel the contract, but the
cancellation should be in writing. Many times the homeowner will get promises from the
builder or contractor to do other repairs or work that is not in the contract. This might
come up when the homeowner notices additional damage or wants to change the way
something is being done. It is extremely important to add these additional matters to the
contract, in writing. If you don’t do this, the builder or contractor may not have to do them
or may fail to do them, claiming no memory of your discussion.
1. My house was damaged and I cannot live in it. Do I need to pay my mortgage?
You must pay your mortgage even if your house is damaged and you cannot live in it.
However, check with your lender, as many companies offer a grace period of several months
to delay payments (although interest may continue to accrue). In the event you are able to
reach an agreement, it is important to request that the lender verify the agreement in writing.
2. What if I cannot pay my mortgage?
If you have received a written foreclosure notice as a result of a disaster‐related financial
hardship, you may be eligible for FEMA payments to help you with your mortgage. If you
have income and you want to keep your house, you may be able to file for bankruptcy
protection. For instance, you may file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy,
the homeowner proposes a plan of how he or she will pay regular mortgage payments and all
other living expenses, and also pay an amount every month toward the mortgage arrears. If
you think you want to file for bankruptcy protection, you should consult with an attorney.
3. What if I live in a condominium?
If you live in a condominium or pay maintenance to any type of homeowners’ association,
you still need to pay your maintenance fees even if your homeowners’ association is not fixing
the common areas or you do not like the way they are handling repairs. You should attend
homeowners’ association meetings to voice your concerns and talk with other homeowners
and members of the board about your complaints. A group of residents may decide to seek
legal advice. If you simply stop making your maintenance fees, however, you may be subject
to foreclosure and other financial penalties.
4. I have homeowner’s insurance, but was told it will take months for an adjuster to look at
my house and that it will take even longer for a check to be issued. Am I eligible for any
type of assistance in the interim?
If you have homeowner’s insurance, you most likely will be eligible for funds to help with
living expenses while you cannot live in your house. You need to contact your insurance
company. If you do not have homeowner’s insurance then you may be eligible for assistance
under FEMA’s Individual and Family Grant (IFG) program to pay for necessary repairs to
essential parts of your home. You may apply for IFG funds by telephone at (800) 462‐9029.
For TDD assistance, call (800) 462‐7585.
5. What if my landlord won’t negotiate with regard to my apartment?
In Nashville, if the home and the property is damaged to the extent that it is substantially
impaired, then the tenant may immediately vacate the premises and provide the landlord
with written notice within fourteen (14) days of vacating the premises. If this is done, then the
lease is terminated and the landlord must return all prepaid rent and security deposits.
Further, an apportionment of rent must be made as of the date of the disaster.
The rental contract should be examined to determine its provisions with regard to destruction
of the premises. If the lease is silent, then the tenant is responsible for all rent if the tenant
leases the entire premises. If the rental property is a portion of a larger building, then the lease
is terminated as of the date of disaster, assuming it substantially impairs the tenant’s use of
the property. In either case, tenants should send a certified letter, return receipt requested, to
the landlord notifying him or her of their actions.
6. All my stuff was destroyed when the roof fell in on the place I rent. What help can I get?
If you had renter’s insurance at the time of the disaster, contact your insurance company. If
your situation is desperate, make sure you describe your situation to the insurance company.
If the company agrees that there is coverage, you can ask for an advance payment to cover a
part of your loss. See the “Common Questions Related to Insurance” section on page 12 of this
document for information about preparing for an adjuster’s visit and handling insurance
7. What if I do not have insurance on my property?
If you do not have renter’s insurance, see if your landlord had insurance to cover your
belongings. However, this is not likely. If your losses are not covered by any insurance policy,
you may be able to get Individual and Family Grant (IFG) money from FEMA for replacement
of necessary items of personal property. You may apply for IFG funds by telephone at (800)
462‐9029. For TDD assistance call (800) 462‐7585.
8. My landlord told me to move out the next day because he wants the apartment for his
daughter who lost her home in the disaster. He told me that if I do not leave, he would
change the locks. Do I have to move?
Tennessee law does not allow a landlord to lock you out, turn off utilities or use any other
“self help” means to get you to leave. The landlord must file an eviction action (called a
detainer warrant) in court. You only have to move out after the judge in your case enters a
final judgment. In Nashville, the landlord must give you written notice before filing a detainer
warrant. Furthermore, if the landlord locks you out or terminates utilities to get you out, then
the landlord can be subject to an action for damages. If the landlord does lock you out, you
can call the police to re‐gain entry. You should also consult an attorney.
9. Must I continue paying rent even though my apartment or office has been completely
destroyed or severely damaged?
In Nashville, if the rental unit or property is damaged to the extent that it is substantially
impaired, then the tenant may immediately vacate the premises and provide the landlord
with written notice within fourteen (14) days of vacating the premises. If this is done, then the
lease is terminated and the landlord must return all prepaid rent and security deposits.
Further, an apportionment of rent must be made as of the date of the disaster. If the property
is not covered by the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, then it must be
determined whether the property is a portion of a building or a single unity, such as a leased
house. In either event, the rental contract should be examined to determine its provisions with
regard to destruction of the premises. If the lease is silent, then the tenant is responsible for all
rent if the tenant leases the entire premises. If the rental property is a portion of a larger
building, then the lease is terminated as of the date of disaster, assuming it substantially
impairs the tenant’s use of the property. In either case, the tenant should send a certified
letter, return receipt requested, to the landlord notifying him or her of the situation.
10. Can I sue my landlord for injuries I suffered in my apartment or office during the disaster?
When injury results from the disaster itself and not from defects in the demised premises
(which the landlord may be obligated to repair), the landlord has no liability for such injuries.
As such, there is no implied promise by the landlord that no harm will come to the tenant
from a natural disaster.
11. Is the damage to my home covered under my insurance policy?
Hazard insurance (i.e., homeowners policies or other fire and extended coverage policies)
from the private sector generally does not cover flood damage. It may cover water damage
inside the home but damage from floods or surface water is usually specifically excluded.
Windstorm insurance is normally limited to greater‐than‐normal wind conditions.
The federal government provides coverage for flooding under the National Flood Insurance
Program (NFIP). Policies can be purchased from any state licensed agent. Individuals can
search for an agent in their area by city, state or zip code on FEMA’s web site at:
Even if policies extend coverage to the type of disaster damage that occurred, they may limit
coverage to losses directly resulting from the disaster. Courts generally have found coverage
if the covered risk was the efficient cause, if not the only cause, of the loss and even if the
other concurrent causes are otherwise expressly excluded from coverage.
12. May I sue the person from whom I bought my home for not telling me about the possibility
If an affirmative misrepresentation was made by the seller concerning the possibility of
flooding, an action for fraud may be maintained, assuming all other elements of fraud are
present. It is important to note that an action based solely on the residential disclosure
statement required under Tennessee law must be brought within one (1) year from the date
the purchaser received the disclosure statement or the date of closing, whichever occurs first.
13. Does my automobile insurance cover damage to my car resulting from the disaster?
Normally, auto insurance will cover damage under the comprehensive policy coverage,
although the particular language and exclusions of the policy will control. Even if an
exclusion from comprehensive coverage exists for damage caused by natural disasters,
coverage may exist under a collision policy if the natural disaster and event causing the
damage could be construed as a collision.
Common questions related to Insurance & Damages
IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT EACH INSURANCE POLICY IS DIFFERENT AND ANY ANSWER GIVEN TO VICTIMS ABOUT
THEIR RIGHTS IS SUBJECT TO THE PROVISIONS OF THEIR PARTICULAR POLICIES. (This is not legal advice. For specific questions,
contact an attorney.)
1. How can I preserve my claims and protect my right to repayment from insurance coverage?
If you have an insurance policy that you think may cover your damage, whether it is a
homeowner’s, renters or auto insurance policy, call your agent, broker or insurance company
immediately to report your loss. Many policies exclude coverage for failure to timely report a
claim. While this is not likely in a disaster, it is not worth taking a risk. It is always a good idea
to contact your insurance company both by telephone and in writing. Even if there is no
coverage for your particular claim, it never hurts to ask. If you believe the insurance company
is incorrectly denying your claim, you may wish to seek further legal counsel. A list of lawyer
referral services can be found below.
2. What if I live in a condominium?
If you own a condo, you should look at coverage provisions in both your association
insurance policy and your individual unit owner’s insurance policy.
3. How do I get an insurance adjuster to come to my home and assess the damage?
Immediately following a disaster, you should contact your insurance company both by phone
and in writing. Most insurance carriers have toll‐free numbers that are designed to handle
new claims. Your carrier should send an adjuster out to inspect your damage within days. If
you are not satisfied with the timeliness of their efforts, contact the Tennessee Department of
Commerce and Insurance’s Consumer Insurance Service at (800) 342‐4029.
4. What can I do to prepare for the insurance adjuster?
If circumstances allow, make a list of all property damaged or destroyed, take pictures, collect
names, addresses and telephone numbers of witnesses, obtain repair estimates, keep a record
of expenses (such as alternative housing, etc.) and locate original bills and receipts for lost
items. Submit these along with your claim to the insurance company.
5. What if I cannot wait for the insurance adjuster?
Some insurance policies provide for reimbursement for temporary housing relocation costs
while your home is being repaired and for car rental costs while your car is being repaired or
replaced. Check your policy or call your insurance company.
If your situation is desperate, make sure to let the insurance company know and, if the
company agrees that there is coverage, ask for an advance payment toward your losses. Do
not begin to replace lost or damaged property on the assumption that your carrier will cover
the loss. Make sure you speak to your insurance company before replacing items.
6. What if the insurance company offers to settle?
You should consult an attorney before signing any release or waiver and before cashing any
check from the insurance company that could be deemed full and final payment of your
claim. Before you settle with the insurance company, be aware of the full extent of your
damage and the full value of your claim. You might want to get multiple estimates before
settling. While you may not wish to hire an attorney, this is the safest thing to do to protect
your interests. A list of lawyer referral services can be found on page 80 of this document.
7. What if the insurance company denies my claim or offers me less than I think I am entitled
You should demand that the insurance company give you in writing its reasons for denying
the claim. Insurance companies are subject to the bad faith laws of the state of Tennessee.
Thus, they must be very certain when denying or compromising your claims. In this
circumstance, you will want to consult with an attorney.
8. What if my insurance does not cover all of the damage to my home or personal property?
You may be eligible for benefits under the FEMA program if you are unable to pay for the
repair or replacement of essential parts of your home or essential personal property. See the
“Housing Issues” section of this manual for a discussion of FEMA benefits. You also may file
your losses with the IRS on your income tax return the following year. Make sure to keep all
repair and replacement receipts. For information on this option contact the IRS at (800) 829‐
INSURANCE COMPANY HOTLINES
Allstate Insurance Company (800) 255‐7828
American National Property & Casualty (800) 333‐2860
AIG Insurance Company (877) 638‐4244
American Superior (800) 342‐2762
Auto‐Owners (888) 252‐4626
Cincinnati Insurance Company (877) 242‐2544
Cotton States (800) 457‐1658
Encompass Insurance (800) 340‐3016
Fireman’s Fund (888) 347‐3428
Grange (800) 445‐3030
Hartford Insurance Company (800) 637‐5410
Liberty Mutual (800) 633‐1833
Nationwide (800) 421‐3535
Progressive (800) 776‐4737
Prudential (800) 346‐3778
Safeco Insurance (800) 332‐3226
State Farm (800) 732‐5246
St. Paul/Travelers (800) 252‐4633
Tennessee Farm Bureau (800) 836‐6327
If you cannot reach your agent or your insurance company, or if you have problems with your
claim, contact the Tennessee Department of Insurance at (615) 741‐2241.
Lawyer Referral Service ‐ The Nashville Bar Association
315 Union St., Ste. 800, Nashville, TN 37201
(615) 242‐6546 or visit http://www.nashbar.org/NewPages/LawyerReferral.htm
You may also contact Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (http://www.tals.org)
Summary ‐ What to do after a flood:
As soon as floodwater levels have dropped, it’s time to start the recovery process. Here’s what
you can do to begin restoring your home.
• Check for structural damage before re‐entering your home to avoid being trapped in a
• Take photos of any floodwater in your home and save any damaged personal property.
• Make a list of damaged or lost items and include their purchase date and value with
receipts. Some damaged items may require disposal, so keep photographs of these items.
• Boil water for drinking and food preparation until authorities tell you that your water
supply is safe.
• Prevent mold by removing wet contents immediately.
• If your home has suffered damage, call your insurance agent to file a claim.
Donʹt return to your flood‐damaged home before the area is declared to be safe by local officials.
Returning home can be both physically and mentally challenging. Above all, use caution.
Check for injuries. Do not attempt to move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate
danger of death or further injury. If you must move an unconscious person, first stabilize the neck
and back, then call for help immediately.
• Keep a battery‐powered radio with you so you can listen for emergency updates and news
• Use a battery‐powered flash light to inspect a damaged home.
Note: The flashlight should be turned on outside before entering ‐ the battery may
produce a spark that could ignite leaking gas, if present.
• Watch out for animals, especially poisonous snakes. Use a stick to poke through debris.
• Be wary of wildlife and other animals
• Use the phone only to report life‐threatening emergencies.
• Stay off the streets. If you must go out, watch for fallen objects; downed electrical wires;
and weakened walls, bridges, roads, and sidewalks.
Before You Enter Your Home
Walk carefully around the outside and check for loose power lines, gas leaks, and structural
damage. If you have any doubts about safety, have your residence inspected by a qualified
building inspector or structural engineer before entering.
Check for structural damage before re‐entering your home to avoid being trapped in a building
Do not enter if:
• You smell gas.
• Floodwaters remain around the building.
When you go inside your home, there are certain things you should and should not do. Enter the
home carefully and check for damage. Be aware of loose boards and slippery floors. The
following items are other things to check inside your home:
• Natural gas. If you smell gas or hear a hissing or blowing sound, open a window and
leave immediately. Turn off the main gas valve from the outside, if you can. Call the gas
company from a neighbor’s residence. If you shut off the gas supply at the main valve,
you will need a professional to turn it back on. Do not smoke or use oil, gas lanterns,
candles, or torches for lighting inside a damaged home until you are sure there is no
leaking gas or other flammable materials present.
• Sparks, broken or frayed wires. Check the electrical system unless you are wet, standing
in water, or unsure of your safety. If possible, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box
or circuit breaker. If the situation is unsafe, leave the building and call for help. Do not
turn on the lights until you are sure they’re safe to use. You may want to have an
electrician inspect your wiring.
o Keep power off until an electrician has inspected your system for safety.
• Roof, foundation, and chimney cracks. If it looks like the building may collapse, leave
• Appliances. If appliances are wet, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit
breaker. Then, unplug appliances and let them dry out. Have appliances checked by a
professional before using them again. Also, have the electrical system checked by an
electrician before turning the power back on.
• Water and sewage systems. If pipes are damaged, turn off the main water valve. Check
with local authorities before using any water; the water could be contaminated. Pump out
wells and have the water tested by authorities before drinking. Do not flush toilets until
you know that sewage lines are intact.
o Boil water for drinking and food preparation until authorities tell you that your
water supply is safe.
• Food and other supplies. Throw out all food and other supplies that you suspect may
have become contaminated or come in to contact with floodwater. Your basement. If your
basement has flooded, pump it out gradually (about one third of the water per day) to
avoid damage. The walls may collapse and the floor may buckle if the basement is
pumped out while the surrounding ground is still waterlogged.
• Open cabinets. Be alert for objects that may fall.
• Clean up household chemical spills. Disinfect items that may have been contaminated by
raw sewage, bacteria, or chemicals. Also clean salvageable items.
• Call your insurance agent. Take pictures of damages. Keep good records of repair and
cleaning costs. If your home has suffered damage, call your insurance agent to file a
o Take photos of any floodwater in your home and save any damaged personal
o Make a list of damaged or lost items and include their purchase date and value
with receipts. Some damaged items may require disposal, so keep photographs of
o Prevent mold by removing wet contents immediately.
o Wear gloves and boots to clean and disinfect. Wet items should be cleaned with a
pine‐oil cleanser and bleach, completely dried, and monitored for several days for
any fungal growth and odors.
For those who need protection from rusty nails and any other contaminated debris, please be sure
and get a tetanus shot. These are being provided at Lentz Health Center free of charge. Although
it has not been confirmed, you may also consider checking the availability with the State of
Tennessee Employee Health Services Center at 615‐741‐1709.