Habitat for Humanity steps up to help families rebuild after flood

Wednesday, June 23, 2010 at 10:13pm

Many Nashville area residents are still recovering from devastating floods last month. Some are still in shock.

After watching floodwaters swallow their homes, they realized their insurance didn’t cover flood damage or the coverage they had was not enough to pay for repairs.

Several groups — including the Federal Emergency Management Agency — have stepped in to address the region-wide need for relief.

Over a month and half after the waters receded, Habitat For Humanity has intensified its effort to aid flood victims in the construction of new homes and reconstruction of old ones.

“Habitat is about recovery not relief,” said Chris McCarthy, director of Nashville Area Habitat for Humanity. “We generally get involved eight weeks to six months after a devastating event like these floods.”

McCarthy said the request for services has picked up over the last two weeks. They now get hundreds of calls a day from families requesting aid in recovering from flood damage.

“We have tons of families applying to us for help as they find out what they are getting from FEMA and loans,” she said.

The two programs Habitat offers are Critical Home Repair, for damaged homes, and New Home Construction, for residences that were damaged beyond repair.

Critical Home Repair allows homeowners with flood damage to apply for financial aid and zero percent interest loans to fund reconstruction of their property.

“An existing homeowner who meets our qualifications can apply to get a home repaired with a cap of $40,000 per house,” McCarthy said.

Donations from local business have helped jumpstart the rebuilding process.

The Tennessee Association of Realtors injected $50,000 into the home repair project. On Wednesday, Opry Mills announced a $60,000 donation to build two houses in Habitat’s Timberwood neighborhood in north Nashville.

“Opry Mills had to endure their own horrible flooding experience and yet they still want to get more families into homes,” McCarthy said. “They are really great corporate and community citizens to be doing this.”

The donation also includes 240 volunteers to work on the houses.

“As a native Nashvillian I have been extremely anxious to get involved and get the rebuilding started,” McCarthy said. “I am thankful to these two organizations that have stepped up to help us.”