Accountability wanted in flood recovery funds

Published: Jun. 27, 2022 at 12:34 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 27, 2022 at 5:15 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - New legislation could mean victims of major disasters, like tornadoes and floods, get more help from charities faster.

This comes after WSMV4 Investigates exposed that relief dollars for 2020 tornado victims still had not been dispersed, two years later.

For two years, tens of thousands of donated dollars sat undistributed, waiting to be handed out to victims of the 2020 tornadoes.

“I think they should’ve used it all up. There shouldn’t be money left,” said Tina Brown who lost her house and had to completely rebuild after the 2020 tornadoes swept through Nashville.

Additionally, more than a year after the Christmas Day bombing, over $100,000 remained.

“I’m going to need to ask for some more support,” said Ashley Bergeron who lost her home and art gallery downtown on Christmas Day 2020.

Then, again after the devastating floods of 2021, WSMV4 Investigates found more than $2 million still sitting with The Community Foundation.

“There’s so many people in need who need stuff now,” said Loyce Holland back when we interviewed her last fall. She lives in Waverly and owns a small business there.

The victims are upset to learn money was still available, as is Tennessee Senator, Mark Pody.

“I want to make sure that money is being accounted for in a proper way and being given to the people who need it at the time they need it,” Senator Pody told WSMV4 Investigates.

Senator Pody represents Wilson County which was one of the hardest hit areas during the 2020 tornadoes.

He thought all the money had already been given to victims and had no idea tens of thousands of dollars were still available for tornado victims, two years later.

“I was actually shocked by that. We need that money out in the community right away,” said Pody.

As we learned over the course of our investigation, there isn’t a law that requires nonprofits to hand out money that’s been donated to victims in a certain time frame.

Pody says he wants to change that and is now in talks with major charitable organizations, like The Community Foundation, to streamline the recovery process.

“We want that money going to help the people who need it, not the people running the organizations,” said Pody.

People like Richard Grady could have used more money after one of the tornadoes in 2020 ripped through his home.

“Quit holding that money. People still need that money,” said Grady.

Our series of investigations found that The United Way of Wilson County, for example still had $50,000 still available for tornado victims 2 years later.

We checked back and since our story aired all of it but $8,000 has been given out. These funds are still available if you need it. Just be sure to contact The United Way of Wilson County and The Upper Cumberland.

We plan to follow State Senator Pody’s efforts to change the law and let you know what progress is made.

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