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In Tennessee, an Outreach to Houses of Worship

a broken building
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The tornado struck so quickly that Reverend Judi Hoffman barely had time to dive into the bathtub to get to safety. The storm struck in the very early morning on March 3, causing extensive damage to the 113-year-old sanctuary, parsonage and church office building of the East End United Methodist Church (UMC) in Nashville, Tennessee.

East End UMC and several other houses of worship in Benton, Carroll, Davidson, Putnam, Smith and Wilson counties sustained severe damage. FEMA, working with the State of Tennessee, wanted to make sure leaders of these institutions were aware that they might qualify for FEMA’s help in rebuilding.

Because of the nationwide coronavirus pandemic health emergency, it was not possible to hold an in-person meeting, so another solution was found. On March 26, FEMA, the DHS Center for Faith & Opportunity Initiatives, the Governor’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) conducted a webinar for 70 participants of faith-based organizations. The participants received information about FEMA Public Assistance and Individual Assistance and about SBA disaster loans.

Rev. Hoffman participated in the webinar and as a result, East End UMC is an applicant for a Public Assistance grant available to eligible houses of worship.

“East End has a tremendous tradition," said Rev. Hoffman. “The church sits on the highest point of land in the community. People look to the church as a representation of spirituality and life. It’s important that we rebuild.”

Federal Coordinating Officer Myra Shird appreciates the significance of houses of worship in the recovery from disasters. “We know that faith-based institutions are vitally important to communities and in our Tennessee operation we wanted to make sure they knew that FEMA could be a source of support as they rebuild,” she said.

Last updated July 20, 2021