This story was updated Saturday, April 18, 2020, at 12:10 p.m. with more information.
Despite obeying Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee's stay-home order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, some Chattanoogans found both their homes and themselves in danger as a tornado swept through the city Sunday night and early Monday morning. The violent storms killed at least nine people, hospitalized dozens, damaged 150 buildings and left many in the city without power.
Chattanoogans are already eager to help their neighbors, even if they have to do so from home, as evidenced by several community groups that have quickly formed to organize local relief efforts.
The Times Free Press compiled a list of ways citizens can help with tornado relief, as well as a list of resources people affected by the storms can use to access the help they need.
Email reporter Emily Crisman at firstname.lastname@example.org if you know of any additional resources to add to the lists below.
WAYS YOU CAN HELP:
Coordinated efforts for tornado relief and cleanup are set to begin Thursday, April 16 at noon at the Hamilton Family YMCA located at 7430 Shallowford Road, according to a news release from the City of Chattanooga area.
Due to the threat of rain and thunderstorms, there will be no volunteer shifts on Sunday, April 19. The Hamilton Family YMCA will still be open for donation dropoff and curbside pickup on Sunday, April 19. There will be volunteer opportunities from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 18. Shifts are available at cha.city/volunteersignup.
Donations may be dropped off from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 18 and Sunday, April 19. From Monday, April 20 to Friday, April 24 donations can be dropped off from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Additional volunteer efforts will be taking place beginning Monday, April 20, throughout the impacted area. Information on how to get involved with these volunteer efforts next week can be found at https://www.redcross.org/volunteer/become-a-volunteer.html, https://www.ihelpchattanooga.org/agency/detail/?agency_id=67687 and by calling Samaritan's Purse at 423-883-0726.
To volunteer, call or come to Calvary Chapel Chattanooga at 7:30 a.m. or 12:30 p.m. (Monday-Saturday) for orientation and assignments. The sizes of teams are limited due to COVID-19 and projects will be filled on a first-come-first-served basis.
Volunteers need to preregister by filling out a Chattanooga tornado response volunteer interest form on the city of Chattanooga's website at cha.city/volunteer. As soon as the city has been given approval from the appropriate agencies and volunteer needs have been established, you will be contacted via the information entered into the form. Larger groups wanting to help should contact Brooke Satterfield at email@example.com. Volunteers need to park at the YMCA and will be bused in to the damaged area. Unauthorized vehicles will be towed.
There are two classes of volunteer work: manual labor (includes cleaning brush and debris, delivering food and goods to tornado victims, heavy physical labor; must wear closed toe shoes, long pants, work gloves, eye protection and face mask) and non-manual labor (includes helping with volunteer check-in, accepting and sorting donations and curb pick-up; must have gloves and face mask).
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.
"The fund will be held at the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga and its grants will be informed by a community task force that will be led by United Way with input from local officials with the aim of understanding the most pressing needs on the ground," according to a news release.
The fund's goal is to help free nonprofits up to concentrate on delivering vital services as the community sets out to rebuild and recover.
The following items are needed for donation at the Hamilton Family YMCA from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.:
(NOTE: Used items such as used clothes, used toys and used books will not be accepted for donation)
* Bottled water
* Work gloves
* Toilet paper
* Paper towels
* Contractor trash bags
* Non-perishable food items
* Personal hygiene items such as soap, shampoo, deodorant, feminine products, etc.
* Other personal items
* Baby items such as diapers, wipes, formula, etc.
* Cleaning supplies
* Unused packing boxes and materials
* Plastic storage containers
Gymnastics Center of Chattanooga is collecting disaster relief items through Friday, April 17, from 9 a.m. to noon each day at its Ooltewah location at 6855 Mountain View Road and its Hixson location at 1790 Hamill Road. Items needed are bottled water; baby food, wipes and formula; diapers in all sizes, pre-packaged snacks; garbage bags; spray cleaner; paper towels; work gloves; new socks and underwear; masks; and basic toiletries such as toothpaste, deodorant and shampoo.
NoogaRadio is collecting donations for Morning Pointe Senior Living nursing home residents, many of whom were moved to another facility without their personal items. Donations of toothbrushes, hairbrushes, slippers, shampoo and other toiletries are needed and will be accepted all day Wednesday at the NoogaRadio station, 5512 Ringgold Road, Suite 216, in East Ridge.
Support the YMCA of Metropolitan Chattanooga's tornado relief efforts — including a shelter, feeding efforts and child care for first-responders and health care workers. Make a donation at tinyurl.com/YMCAtornadorelief. The organization also encourages current YMCA members to continue their memberships, despite branches being closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, to help with the YMCA's relief efforts.
To volunteer with the Salvation Army, visit csarmy.org/volunteer. The Salvation Army says it will need increased public support over the coming days and weeks as it continues to assist with tornado relief efforts, ongoing care in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the un-housed community and meet needs through the social services office with food and utility assistance. Those who wish to contribute to The Salvation Army's efforts can do do at csarmy.org.
To help provide goods and shelter for affected families, donate to the Red Cross by texting REDCROSS to 90999, call 1-800-RED-CROSS or visit redcross.org/donate/donation.html.
Hamilton County Schools has established tornado relief supply centers as donation sites at Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts (CSLA) and Hixson Middle School.
Donations at Hixson Middle School may be dropped off Thursday, April 16, from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. or 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Donations can be made on Friday, April 17, from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Donations at Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts (CSLA) may be dropped off Thursday or Friday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.
CSLA and Hixson Middle School are accepting the following items:
* Bottled Gatorade or Powerade
* Bottled water
* Garbage Bags
* Female sanitary items
* Baby wipes
* Work gloves
* Storage bins (new)
* First Aid kits
* Pre-packaged snacks
* And any restaurant, home improvement store, or grocery gift cards
HOW TO GET HELP:
Residents in need of assistance can call the Home Cleanup Hotline at 844-965-1386. Crisis cleanup connects those in need with volunteers from local relief organizations, community groups and faith communities who may be able to assist with cutting fallen trees, removing drywall, flooring and appliances, tarping roofs and mitigating mold. All the services are free but not guaranteed due to overwhelming need. The hotline will remain open through May 15.
Curbside pickup services for families and individuals who have been directly impacted by Sunday's storms will begin Wednesday, April 15 from 2-7 p.m. at the Hamilton Family YMCA located at 7430 Shallowford Road. Some personal items will be available there, and the location will continue to serve as pickup as items are available.
Curbside pickup services will continue from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 18 through Sunday, April 19. From Monday, April 20 through Friday, April 24, curbside pickup services will be offered from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. There will also be food and shower availability from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
For assistance from the Salvation Army, call 423-305-6200.
Georgia citizens can self-report damages to their homes, businesses and public facilities using the Georgia Emergency Management Agency's Engaged Citizens Damage Assessment GeoForm at tinyurl.com/GEMAform.
Greater Chattanooga Area Tornado 2020 Facebook group volunteers are collecting donations for people sheltering at Hamilton Family YMCA. Donations can be dropped off at the Food Lion in East Ridge April 15-19 from 5-6 p.m. (green Chevrolet Silverado); at the Food City in Ooltewah April 15-19 from 1:30-2:30 p.m. (blue Ford F-150); at the Food City at Shallowford Road and Lee Highway April 15-16 from 4-6 p.m., and April 17-19 from 1-3 p.m. (maroon Toyota Tacoma); and at Pruett's Signal Mountain Market April 15-19 from 4-5 p.m. Items needed are vitamin C, hand warmers, water, sports drinks, nonperishable food, fresh fruit, baby diapers in all sizes, baby formula, toiletries, work gloves, trash bags, tarps, flashlights, batteries, blankets, cleaning supplies, all sizes of sweat pants and house shoes, new socks and underwear, and pet supplies.
Hamilton Family YMCA is serving as a shelter for tornado victims. Staff there are assisting people in finding area hotels, allowing people to remain at the branch until family members can reunite with them, assisting with getting medical care to people who may need it and providing bottled water and snacks. Unless phones are down due to power outages, the branch can be reached at 423-899-1721.
The Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) is providing replacement Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to families who suffered losses in Sunday's severe weather event. These replacement benefits are available to existing SNAP recipients who lost food due to a power outage of 12 hours or more or home damage in the April 12, 2020 severe weather event and who request replacement benefits within 10 calendar days of experiencing food loss. Applicants can request replacement benefits by filling out an affidavit and sending it to TDHS using the File Upload tool at https://fileupload.dhs.tn.gov/ . The Affidavit Request for SNAP Replacement Due to Power Outage (HS-3003) Instructions can be found at https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/human-services/hs/hs-3003.pdf. For Spanish Instructions: https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/human-services/hs/hs-3003sp.pdf Residents in Hamilton County may also leave the signed affidavit in the drop box located outside the Hamilton County DHS Office located at Eastgate Center Ste 602-A, 5600 Brainerd Road, Chattanooga, TN 37411-9949. Individuals without access to the internet are encouraged to reach out to their local office to arrange an in-person appointment. Customers can find the phone number of their local office online here.
Once approved, SNAP replacement benefits are issued on the current recipient's EBT card. Cards that are lost, destroyed, or inaccessible will be replaced. Replacement SNAP benefits will be authorized for the value of the loss only and can't exceed the current month's allotment. Individuals who are not existing SNAP recipients do not qualify for replacement benefits but they can apply for regular benefits online at https://faonlineapp.dhs.tn.gov/
If you or anyone you know was affected by the storms, reach out to the United Way of Greater Chattanooga's 211 team to speak to one of its community resource specialists and be connected with the resources you need. Dial 211, 423-265-8000, or toll-free at 1-866-921-3035; text your ZIP code to 898-211 to start a text chat; or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The free service is available Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The YMCA of Metropolitan Chattanooga is repurposing facilities to provide school-aged child care for families of health care workers and first-responders. People in need of these services can email email@example.com in Chattanooga or firstname.lastname@example.org in Cleveland.
CSLA is the pick-up site for distribution to Hamilton County Schools student and staff families in need due to damage from the tornado. Pick-up will be available from noon to 2 p.m. on Thursday and Friday. Those picking up items may be asked to share the name of the child, and the school attended.
Tips for debris management and collection
The Hamilton County Office of Emergency Management and the Hamilton County Highway Department are asking tornado victims to separate all debris at their residence in the following categories:
- Vegetation (Trees. leaves and brush); logs from tree debris should be no longer than 8 feet
- Construction debris (building materials, drywall, lumber, furniture, mattresses, plumbing)
- Large appliances
- Hazardous Materials (oil, batteries, pesticides, paints, cleaning supplies, compressed gas)
- Household garbage (needs to be in the City of Chattanooga Garbage and Recycle bins. If there is no container present, please call 311 at 423-643-6311 to request a garbage or recycling container.)
If the debris is not separated, it will not be collected.
All debris should be placed on the curbside and not block the roadway. Please note that placing debris near or on trees, poles, or other structures makes removal difficult; this includes fire hydrants and meters. Please ensure that brush is not commingled with any other material or debris.
Household trash should be set out with regular weekly curbside garbage pick-up.
Doors of refrigerators/freezers must be removed.
Try to share piles with neighbors.
Due to the amount of area damaged by the tornado, debris removal may take several weeks or months for all debris to be removed from their residence. Delays can be expected in delivery and replacement of garbage and recycling containers for the affected areas in town.
Residents who are able to do so are encouraged to utilize the city's other amenities, including the Wood Recycling Center, Refuse Collection and Recycling Collection Centers and Household Hazardous Waste Facility. Effective Wednesday, April 15, the Wood Recycling Center located at 4063 North Hawthorne Street will be open from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. Wood waste from trees and trimmings as well as leaves may be disposed of at the Wood Recycling Center at a standard rate for non-city residents and businesses.
Citizens may call 311 for any additional questions. If you or someone you know are in need of emergency assistance please call 911.