Tornado damage

REALTOR® Relief Fund Helps Chattanooga Residents Rebuild After Tornado

By Tanya Svoboda
January 2021

Tennessee might not technically lie in “tornado alley”, but its residents are no stranger to these devastating storms. According to the Tennessean, the Volunteer State has averaged nearly 30 tornadoes a year since 1995. This April, a tornado outbreak ripped through the region and left behind extensive damage to homes, roads, bridges, utilities, and businesses throughout Eastern Tennessee.

After surveying the heavily damaged Chattanooga area days after the storms passed, Gov. Bill Lee told the Tennessean, “There is great loss and great tragedy out there right now in this region.” He went on to say, “We will continue to help to rebuild through this tragic event.”

REALTOR® Relief Fund Helps Chattanooga Homeowners Rebuild

To assist in the rebuilding process, the Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® provided help to homeowners through the National Association of REALTORS’® (NAR) REALTOR® Relief Fund. NAR provided up to $200,000 to help Tennessean homeowners affected by the April tornadoes. The REALTOR® Relief Fund was created to help families in need of housing-related assistance as a result of a disaster.

Assistance through the REALTOR® Relief Fund provided up to $1,000 of assistance to qualified applicants in two ways. The fund helped qualified homeowners pay their monthly mortgage expenses if their primary residence was damaged by the Chattanooga Tornado Disaster. The fund also offered assistance with rental costs incurred due to displacement resulting from the Chattanooga Tornado Disaster.

Assistance was provided on a first-come, first-serve basis and while the application deadline for the REALTOR® Relief Fund was July 31st, other forms of assistance are still available to Tennesseans who continue to struggle with housing issues as a result of April’s storms.

Housing Assistance is Still Available for Tornado Victims

Four months after the Easter Sunday tornados, homeowners are still struggling to recover. Local programs are continuing to provide assistance as these residents rebuild.

  • Samaritan’s Purse of Chattanooga: This organization is providing volunteers with the hope of helping 25 homeowners restore and repair damage to their homes from the April tornado. Tony Krofchik, a representative for Samaritan’s Purse said in an ABC News Channel 2 article, “We’re focusing on folks that don’t have the resources, people that didn’t have insurance or not enough insurance, or didn’t get enough money from FEMA to get their house back together the way it needs to be again.” To apply for assistance, homeowners can email Samaritan’s Purse at chattanoogarebuild@samaritan.org.
  • The Salvation Army: The Salvation Army is offering up to $1,200 of assistance to families in need. The funding is possible through donations from Food City, the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga, and the United Way of Greater Chattanooga. Together, these organizations have provided the Salvation Army with more than $200,000 to help tornado victims.

These funds will be used to help ongoing rebuilding efforts in Chattanooga. Major Mark Smith of the Salvation Army of Greater Chattanooga said, “You have your emergency assistance phase, but when that’s over with, there are needs that are discovered.” He continued, “These needs are not immediately apparent. So, there has to be some long term care, some long term recovery, and that’s what these funds are for.”

After April’s tornados, the REALTOR® Relief Fund provided many Tennesseans the grants they needed to begin the rebuilding process in Chattanooga. The vast devastation from these recent tornadoes requires ongoing support. Through programs like Samaritan’s Purse and the Salvation Army, homeowners are receiving continued assistance on their road to recovery.


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