When I found out that Parthenon had decided to offer its employees one paid vacation day to help with flood recovery here in Nashville, my first thought was how generous that was.
My second thought was to ask myself what was the most effective way I could help my neighbors given one full day to help.
Enter the West Nashville Flood Recovery Network.
The network comprises churches, nonprofits and concerned individuals in the West Nashville area whose goal is to create a sustainable, long-term recovery plan for its community.
The Problem: A Community Dispersed
Richland Creek runs north through West Nashville on its way to the Cumberland River, and when the waters rose this past May it left a swath of homes destroyed in its path. Many of those homes have since been re-designated as within a flood zone, which prohibits those owners from rebuilding. For those with modest means and a reasonable support network, moving may constitute a life-altering experience, but a manageable one. For those without the help of family and friends, on the other hand, the flood was truly devastating.
In addition to the numerous possessions lost in the muddy waters, many also no longer enjoy access to the Internet, phones and a place to stay: all of which makes keeping in contact with people much more difficult.
The challenge was to create a comprehensive needs assessment plan to track people over time, and potentially share that information with other agencies.
The Plan: A Scalable Solution
Working with the West Nashville Flood Recovery Network, and borrowing heavily from information gathered by the Southeast Nashville Flood Relief Team, Parthenon launched a front-facing website with resources for victims, volunteers and other organizations. The website, which is coupled with a robust, back end database where volunteers can enter data on various houses, individuals and families in West Nashville, is intended to help the network provide long-term recovery assistance the families of West Nashville.
(For geeks, I used Drupal to power the website and configured CiviCRM to power the database. And the danland theme is extremely CiviCRM-friendly.)
As the subhead above suggests, the site will need to grow and evolve along with the recovery efforts which is why I chose a platform that supports more sophisticated activity than we now need (fundraising, e-newsletters, events, etc.).
Until then, we encourage you to remember that the flood left a wake of destruction that will require a sustained, multi-year effort to repair.
To learn more about how you can help in your neighborhood, Hands on Nashville provides a great place to start.